What Is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate. It’s a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.
It gets its name from the town of Epsom in Surrey, England, where it was originally discovered.
Despite its name, Epsom salt is a completely different compound than table salt. It was most likely termed “salt” because of its chemical structure.
It has an appearance similar to table salt and is often dissolved in baths, which is why you may also know it as “bath salt.” While it looks similar to table salt, its taste is distinctly different. Epsom salt is quite bitter and unpalatable.
Some people still consume it by dissolving the salt in water and drinking it. However, due to its taste, you probably don’t want to add it to food.
For hundreds of years, this salt has been used to treat ailments, such as constipation, insomnia, and fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, its effects on these conditions are not well researched.
Most of the reported benefits of Epsom salt are attributed to its magnesium, a mineral that a lot of people do not get enough of.
You can find Epsom salt online and at most drug and grocery stores. It’s typically located in the pharmacy or cosmetic area.
Benefits of using Epsom salt
A person with any underlying medical condition should speak to their doctor before trying Epsom salt. People living with kidney disease must not consume Epsom salt.
Magnesium from oral supplements or an Epsom salt bath may provide the following health benefits:
Improving exercise performance and recovery
Some people take magnesium before a workout. This may help remove the lactic acid that builds up in muscles during exercise and improve future performance.
In a small 2015 studyTrusted Source, researchers found short-term magnesium supplementation was associated with improved bench-press performance among 13 athletes.
When a person takes magnesium after a workout, it may also reduce recovery time and prevent muscle soreness. In a 2014 animal studyTrusted Source, researchers treated rats with either magnesium sulfate or saline before placing them on a treadmill.
The rats that received magnesium sulfate had higher glucose levels during exercise and cleared lactic acid faster during recovery.
People who do not have enough magnesium may experience painful muscle crampsTrusted Source and chronic inflammation. Underlying health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, may also affect magnesium absorption.
An Epsom salt bath may help soothe sore muscles and reduce inflammation. However, experts are unclear whether Epsom salt is directly responsible for these effects.
Magnesium contributes to the synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transport signals between neurons, or nerve cells. These chemical messengers impact every aspect of daily life, including sleep, mood, and concentration.
According to a 2017 review in the journal NutrientsTrusted Source, having low levels of magnesium could harm a person’s quality of sleep and ability to cope with stress.
If a person takes an Epsom salt bath, it may help their skin absorb magnesium, which could relieve stress and promote relaxation. But, other studies investigating this show conflicting results.
For many people, drinking Epsom salt is generally safe. However, those with kidney disease or heart disease, pregnant women, and children should not consume it. A person should speak with their doctor if they are unsure about drinking Epsom salt.
People can use Epsom salt as a laxative to treat constipation. This treatment method involves dissolving a small amount of Epsom salt in water and drinking the mixture.