Epsom Salt: You wouldn’t think that a common mineral could do so much. Magnesium sulfate,
better known as Epsom salt, is popular in stress-reducing, skin-softening, and acherelieving soaks. Outside of the remedy arena, gardeners swear by it because it
helps roses thrive. And raccoons, for some reason, hate it: Epsom salt drives them
What’s it good for?
• Calluses and Corns
• Dry Skin
• Foot Odor
• Muscle Cramps
• Poison Ivy
Epsom salt is found anywhere mineral or seawater evaporates. It takes its name from a mineral spring in Epsom, England. Not long ago, Epsom salt was given as part of the spring round of purgatives to cleanse the body of “toxins” that supposedly built up over the winter. One reason was probably its laxative effect. Until a few decades ago, when commercial laxatives began to line pharmacy shelves, Epsom salt was a popular shortcut to regularity. The active ingredient in milk of magnesia, Epsom salt is a saline-type laxative: The magnesium pulls fluids from the blood into the intestine, making stools softer while triggering intestinal contractions that stimulate bowel movements.
Occasionally, people still take one or two teaspoons of Epsom salt in a glass of water to ease constipation. The problem with this remedy is that it’s often too powerful, causing diarrhea or abdominal cramps. And it can interfere with the body’s absorption of nutrients. So it’s not recommended unless you’re under a doctor’s care.
Soaks and Softeners
External uses of Epsom salt, on the other hand, are entirely safe—and incredibly handy. Among other things, Epsom salt can be used to:
• Draw out splintersand stingers. Epsom salt draws toxins from insect stings and pulls splinters to the skin’s surface. If you add water to Epsom salt to make a paste and apply it to the affected area, it will usually go to work in about 10 minutes. You can also soak in an Epsom salt bath to soften the skin and help draw out the splinter.
• Deep-clean pores. Add a teaspoon Epsom salt to a quarter-cup warm water, and rub your skin with the mixture to dislodge blackheads, open pores, and freshen skin.
• Ease muscle aches. Epsom salt draws fluid out of the body and helps shrink swollen tissues. As it draws fluid through the skin, it also draws out lactic acid, the buildup of which can contribute to muscle aches. Add a cup or two of the salt to a hot bath and enjoy a relaxing soak.
• Sprains and bruises. Epsom salt will reduce the swelling of sprains and bruises. Add 2 cups Epsom salt to a warm bath, and soak.
• Help hemorrhoids. Because it shrinks swollen tissues, Epsom salt makes an excellent sitz bath for hemorrhoids.
• Soften skin. Massage handfuls of Epsom salt over your skin while bathing. The massaging action will exfoliate the skin—that is, slough off dead skin cells— leaving your skin looking smoother and refreshed.
Soothing Foot Soak:
This recipe for “fabulous feet” comes from the Epsom Salt Industry Council.
Mix the following ingredients in a foot basin or large pot:
2 cups Epsom salt, 1 cup Dead Sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil 1/4 cup plain oatmeal (non-instant)
Approximately 4 gallons warm-to-hot water Soak your feet until the water
turns cold, then, using a pumice stone, buff all the rough areas of skin. Rinse
your feet in cold water and dry thoroughly. Then slather petroleum jelly on
your skin and slip into thick socks. (Don’t try to walk around until you put
on the socks. Petroleum jelly will make your feet very slippery.) Keep socks
on overnight for best results. Repeat as often as needed.