Epsom salts can treat many conditions and disorders, including inflammation and muscle soreness, stress, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and other common aches and pains. Keep Epsom salts on hand around your house for use in soothing baths, as a cleanser and as a poultice for sore muscles.
How Epsom Salts Work
The main ingredient in Epsom salt is magnesium, which is "the second-most abundant element in human cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body," according to the Epsom Salt Council 1. Magnesium relaxes muscles, reduces swelling, improves heart and circulatory health, improves the body's ability to use insulin, helps flush toxins, improves nerve function by regulating electrolytes, and reduces stress. You can take magnesium as a dietary supplement, but it also can be absorbed through the skin. An Epsom poultice draws magnesium in through the skin, delivering it directly to sore muscles rather than waiting for an oral pain reliever to travel through the bloodstream to the affected area.
Poultice packs made with Epsom salts are easy to make to treat muscle sprains and strains. They can be messy though, so use this treatment in the bath or bathroom, or wherever you can easily clean up. Mix Epsom salts with enough water to make a paste that will cover the area you are treating. Prepare a damp, warm towel and set it aside. Apply the thick paste to the sore area and spread it in an even layer over the skin. Take the warm towel, wrap it around the area covered with Epsom salts and secure it. Let the poultice sit for at least 20 minutes and then wash off the paste. You can add some intermittent heat directly to the moist towel with a hairdryer, but be careful not to burn yourself.
Overuse of Epsom salts may lead to magnesium toxicity, so as with all supplements, use it in moderation. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure whether Epsom salts are safe to use for specific conditions, and pregnant women should always consult with their physicians before using this treatment.