How Bout an Epsom Salt Bath??

How Bout an Epsom Salt Bath??

We work out hard, and all of us get sore muscles.  There are a few options to help mitigate Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) such as staying properly hydrated and regularly taking a tablespoon or so of fish oil each day, but has anyone heard of taking an Epsom Salt Bath?

Growing up, I was exposed to epsom salts by my mother.  Whenever one of our horses, dogs, or cats showed up with an injury, laceration, or bad abrasion she would religiously soak a towel with a hot water and epsom salts mixture and apply the compress to the site of the wound.  I do recall one of our clumsier horses getting tangled in our pasture fence and giving himself a nasty four inch laceration near his right hoof.  The horse’s leg had swollen and the injury was borderline vet material.  We treated the injury by applying an epsom salt compress twice a day for a week and in that time the swelling reduced within two days, and by the end of the week the wound was almost completely healed.

This recollection makes a compelling case for epsom salts.  However, in preparation for this post, I decided I’d see if could dig up any scientific studies or other hard data on epsom salts.  I’ve gleaned the following information from my search.

What it is:
Epsom salts are manufactured from a rock substance called Dolomite.  Epsom salts are slightly different than regular table salt with which we are more familiar.  Epsom salts do not occur naturally, but are created using the magnesium rich Dolomite combined with oxygen and sulfur.  The resulting compound is referred to chemically as Magnesium Sulfate (epsom salt).

Claim of Benefits:
During the manufacturing of the epsom salts, carbon found naturally in Dolomite is replaced by sulfur.  Without getting too Chem 101 on this, carbon is the base building block in nature.  Plants, animals, and we humans are carbon based.  The magnesium in epsom salts is jaded about losing its carbon, and it prefers being associated with carbon over sulfur.  Therefore epsom salts have a strong affinity for carbon.

The human body excretes carbon as waste, mainly through our lungs or bronchial tubes as carbon dioxide.  However, when our blood and tissues don’t receive enough oxygen, retarded combustion occurs and partially oxidized carbon waste collects in the blood and tissues. Now, because our epsom salts really like carbon, when we apply epsom salts externally they are said to be able to draw out these remnants of carbon waste that collect in our blood and tissues.

Cases For/Against Use:
I found no published scientific studies on the claimed benefit of using epsom salts for the purpose of drawing out impurities or carbon buildup in our bodies.  The logic is there, and makes sense to me, however I always like to see some sort of study to really buy into a product’s claim.

I did find a few interesting blog posts making cases either for or against the benefits of using epsom salts.  They’re worth a read if you’re interested.

Where do We Find This Stuff:
Epsom salts can be purchased at most grocery stores, Wal-Mart, or drug stores.  You don’t need a prescription, and they’re reasonably priced.  I’ve often seen them packaged in a cardboard milk carton type container.

How do We Use It:
Add about 2 cups of epsom salts to a warm bath and soak.  It’s that simple.

In Summary:
Baths feel good, and I’ve always found them helpful in getting me to relax.  I’ve taken epsom salt baths before, and they do make the water feel saltier, more like ocean water, which to me feels good.  I can’t for sure tell you that you’ll feel less sore, or that epsom salts will cure those aches and pains we all feel after going hard in class for a week.  However, a nice hot bath with some epsom salts sure won’t hurt you.

Sound off in the comments if you have any interesting additions or dig up any science on the subject.  I’m always curious by nature!

The O-Board Says…

6 Rounds for Reps
Ring Push Ups
Hang Power Cleans
Double Unders

For each – 45 sec work, 15 sec rest

Posted by Stets