Magnesium sulfate, known to most people as Epsom salt, is a natural chemical compound made from magnesium, sulphur and oxygen. The common name comes from the salty spring waters of Epsom, a small town in the county of Surrey, England. The porous chalk hills of North Downs feed this bitter spring, where the salt compound occurs naturally as a pure mineral.
Magnesium sulfate has numerous uses and benefits, from government-approved medicinal treatments to natural home remedies. Epsom salt is ideal for relieving muscle aches to relieving constipation. It is a natural, low-cost alternative to pricey skin and hair care treatments. In fact, it is the ultimate soothing ingredient to have around the house. Here are five everyday uses for Epsom salt.
Muscle Pain Reliever
Magnesium sulfate is most often used to treat muscle aches, cramps and sprains. The two chemicals found in this compound, magnesium and sulphur, work together to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Epsom salt works in a bathtub, foot bath or skin compress. Add a cup of salt to a pan of warm water to ease tired feet. Two cups of salt in a bath produces a relaxing overall soak. Foot soaks and salt baths reduce the swelling associated with bruises, strains and sprains as they relax and sedate the body.
Itchy Skin Reliever
Magnesium sulfate is also a good topical remedy for dry and itchy skin. Sunburn, insect bites and stings, poison ivy and other summer ailments respond well to Epsom salt treatments. A saltwater soak also draws out plant stickers and wood splinters from the skin.
Epsom salt is a natural laxative approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This over-the-counter (OTC) medication is a proven remedy for constipation. According to the Mayo Clinic, it works by drawing water from surrounding body tissues into the colon. This softens the stool and allows for easier passage.
Using Epsom salt for constipation may come with unwanted side effects such as bloating, cramping, gas and diarrhea. Follow the dosage directions on the package to prevent or lessen these effects. As with all OTC products, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor before ingesting Epsom salt.
Skin Care Ingredient
Epsom salt is a good natural skin care product. To exfoliate the skin, gently rub handfuls of the dry salt over wet skin, from the feet to the face. Rinse off in a warm bath.
Magnesium sulfate also works wonders as a face cleanser and skin mask. Create a soothing cleanse by adding a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt to regular cleansing cream. Rinse off with cold water. Many recipes also use Epsom salt as an ingredient in natural skin masks.
Hair Care Ingredient
Epsom salt is an excellent hair care tool, as well. Used with shampoos that are appropriate for the hair type, Epsom salt absorbs excess oil from the hair. It is effective as a hairspray remover. Mixed with hair conditioner, it serves as a hair volumizer too.
The healing properties of Epsom salt make it an important natural ingredient to have on hand. From pain reliever to face scrub to hair cleanser, magnesium sulfate really is the ultimate “cure-all” ingredient.