Epsom Salt Experiment

January 09, 2010

I overdid it at the gym on Wednesday.  Which means my back, butt and hamstrings complain every time I stand up, sit down, walk, bend over, and move about in general.  So, after sitting in a steaming tub full of epsom salts and experiencing three noticeable benefits I was curious to learn about how the salt works.

First, the benefits:

1. The very reason I got into the tub in the first place was noticeably diminished.  No my butt wasn’t smaller, it was just less sore.  The stiffness wasn’t completely gone, but it had definitely improved.

2. My sinuses felt like they’d been blasted clean by Indoor Plumber, that’s because my salt had essential oils in it (marjoram and lemongrass to be precise).

And 3.  I was exceedingly pink.  This might not seem to be a benefit to you, but take it from someone who eats a lot of carrots – it’s better than yellow.

Second, the how: In my efforts to find some scientific explanation of how the salts helped me, I found…well, almost nothing.  What I did find was an unpublished study showing that magnesium sulfate (the salt) enters the body when bathing.  But I couldn’t find anything on how the salt actually makes the muscles feel better.  What I do know is that magnesium is necessary for proper muscle function, and helps heal micro-tears in the muscle, which is what soreness is.  I’m not a chemist – but does it seem too far fetched that the magnesium in the salt would act the same way magnesium in a supplement does?

What I experienced was what I expected and hoped for – so was it a placebo effect?  I don’t know.  But I do know that I can stand up without whimpering, I can breathe clearly (a nicely unexpected side effect), and I’m a pleasant pinkish hue – until my next salad.

If your muscles are stiff and sore, give Epsom salts a try.  I’d be most intrigued to hear your conclusions.