Epsom Salts- A Grandma’s Cure

Epsom Salts also known as Magnesium sulfate, are gaining a new generation of fans looking for a safe, inexpensive alternative to high- priced over-the-counter remedies. For hundreds of years, this salt has been used to treat ailments such as: constipation, healing wounds, insomnia and fibromyalgia. Although its effects on these conditions are not well researched or proven scientifically, many people swear by this folk remedy. Its potential uses are numerous as a natural remedy with plenty of health benefits, for beauty purposes to improve the quality of hair and skin, for household related uses and as a garden fertilizer.

Becoming a sought-after cure for constipation, for hundreds of years, following a happenstance discovery. During a drought in 1618, a local cow herder called Henry Wicker bent down to drink from a pool of water on Epsom Common. He found the water tasted acidic and bitter. As the water evaporated, Wicker noticed white residue left behind and realized after drinking the water that it had a laxative effect. The term Epsom salt and its medicinal properties were established by a chemist Nehemiah Grew in 1695. He called the mineral found in the spring water after the nearest town, Epsom. Nehemiah acquired a royal patent for the exclusive manufacturing of Epsom salt, which soon became cheaply available over the counter. He called it Bitter Purging Salts and this was the first recorded laxative.

Until early 17th century, Epsom was only a small rural community. After the discovery of the springs rich in Magnesium sulfate, it expanded and developed into a spa town, one of the earliest in Britain. The water was said to have purgative powers and was drunk on empty stomach from stoneware mugs. People came from all around Europe to drink the healing waters. Though originally known as a spa town, little remains today apart from a water pump. Epsom was unable to compete with other developing Spa towns like, Bath and Harrogate, because of the low supply of spring water.

 In 1755, a British chemist and physicist named Joseph Black conducted experiments on the chemical properties of Magnesium sulfate. He proposed that Magnesium be classified as an element.

Due to the specific composition, the benefits and actions of Epsom salt are different from those of sea salt or common bath salts. While bath salts usually contain various ingredients as part of their proprietary blend, Epsom salt is a pure mineral compound of Magnesium and sulfate. There are major differences in how Epsom salt and sea salt are obtained. While Epsom salt is usually refined in a chemical process or boiled down, sea salt is obtained by evaporating sea water. Sea salt is edible and widely used in cooking. Where as Epsom salt can be unpalatable because of the bitterness it is edible in very small amounts. It’s often referred to as bitter salt.

Magnesium is essential in the human body for muscle and nerve function and maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s also needed to maintain a regular heartbeat, sufficient blood glucose and strong bones. Most of the reported benefits of Epsom salts are attributed to its Magnesium content, a mineral that most people lack. When Epsom salt is dissolved in water it releases Magnesium and sulfate ions. It is involved in more than 325 biochemical reactions that benefit your heart and nervous system.

As a medication administered intravenously, it can stave off premature birth and alleviate seizures caused by several conditions, including magnesium deficiency, pre-eclampsia, and eclampsia.

The benefits of a soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts are many; easing of muscle soreness and stress, relieving cramps, skin irritation and inflammation, soothing sunburn and treating sprains. When used as a footbath it soothes sore feet. (Apply a paste from 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt mixed with water) To take an Epsom salt bath; add 2 cups of Epsom salt to the water and soak your body for at least 15 minutes. While Magnesium sulfate can be taken as a supplement it is claimed that Magnesium may be better absorbed via an Epsom salt bath than when taken orally.

NB. It should not be added to a bath for anyone with an open wound, severe burns, severe skin inflammation or a skin infection.

Integrative medical specialists (a healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person including lifestyle) often recommend Epsom salts for both physical and mental health benefits. Adequate magnesium levels are essential for sleep and stress management. Magnesium may also help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

It serves important bodily functions too, taken by mouth as a laxative as Magnesium is often used to treat constipation. It appears to be helpful because it draws water into your colon, which promotes bowel movements. If you use it as a laxative, make sure to drink plenty of water.

I do hope I have shown you some of the benefits of adding this affordable product to your life, I’ve used this myself for many years. I would advise that you only buy the salt from a reputable source such as a leading health store or chemist and make sure to buy 100% Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulfate) and not a blended version as this does not contain the same health benefits.

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