If you’ve ever been in or near the sea, then you have felt the positive effects that salt water and air have on the body. Negative ions, which are abundant in nature, help us with overall health and well-being in a variety of ways including:
“So sure, baths can be good for me you say, but give me some real reasons to carve time into my busy schedule and soak in the tub and WHY would I add salt?”
You will have benefits from soaking in a non-salted baths, but why not add some negative ions to your experience? Your own cozy, affordable, delicious smelling and clean ocean right at your fingertips. Read above bullets for why this is a pretty cool thing.
Salt water (i.e. saline) can help clean and promote healing through a process called osmosis. In less scientific terms, salts will pull excess fluid out of the body, leading to a cleaner and less inflamed shallow wound on the skin. This will help to promote healing of minor cuts, scrapes, fissures and ulcers. This antibacterial and anti-inflammatory property of salt baths can also reduce redness and itching from skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and can promote extraction of small objects lodged in the skin’s surface, for example, splinters and ingrown hairs and toe nails.
Disease cannot live in an alkaline state. There is absolutely no scientific proof that through osmosis a salt bath will transfer liquid via your skin so both your blood and the water have equal salinity (in fact, your skin sure is water-proof thanks to that lipid barrier and thank God for this as, otherwise, we’d be walking raisins)… HOWEVER… floating in an alkaline state sure does feel good. Additionally, your skin may move to a more alkaline state, killing bacteria (like yeast and those pimple causing kinds.) So, why not?! Goodbye Dis-Ease… hello ease and flow!
Epsom salt granulates are relatively large and because it is a magnesium salt it is less drying and irritating than its harsher cousin sodium chloride.
In yoga, we call it Pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses. When we lie in a pool of water that is highly concentrated with salt, we naturally and effortlessly float. With our eyes closed, our ears submerged in water and our body relaxed in a warm bath we can allow our attention to turn inward. I can feel and hear my heartbeat and breath like no other time than when I am floating. Withdrawing from our external stimuli can create a space of relaxation and quietness that may be difficult to achieve otherwise. This quiet place may allow you to drop into a meditative state and there is a LOT of science behind the benefits of meditation. That’s for another blog post. 😉
“All of this sounds lovely, but where’s that TRUTH bomb you mentioned?”
It is folk tale that soaking in Epsom salt baths will dramatically help to alleviate muscular and joint aches and pains caused by workouts, fibromyalgia or arthritis versus simply soaking in a warm bath without salt. This is simply stated due to the lack of current scientific research proving there is a good or specific reason why it would. There HAS, however, been studies that show (relatively weak) results that magnesium sulphate ions CAN be absorbed through the skin with the help of hair follicles. Additionally, heat has been proven to help ease myofascial trigger points which cause much of the muscular pain that we experience throughout our body. SO, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. In my totally biased and humble opinion, though salt-soaking might not help with sores, aches and pains… maybe soaking in salt COULD help, and when I am in pain I will try anything. 😉
“Ah, I see… now that I’ve made up my mind, HOW do I go about procuring one of these potentially magical bath experiences?”
You can typically find Epsom salt in two places at your local pharmacy or grocery: A) the first aid supplies section (as it is sold as a treatment for sore muscles and because magnesium sulphate is an effective, naturally occurring laxative for short term constipation.) B) the bath/soaps/soaks section. If you want salt that smells nice, go to the bath section. If you want plain salt so that you can add your own essential oils, go to the first aid section. Or you can simply click HERE for Amazon to ship it right to your front door!
Need I say more here?
I really enjoy a totally effortless float so I typically will add a bit (a lot) more salt than the bag says to. Please use your discretion and personal preference here. If you prefer, you can add 30-ish drops of your favorite essential oil to the salts prior to pouring them into the bath (it is not desirable that essential oils come in direct contact with your skin.) Pour your salt under running water so it easily dissolves.
Aim for at least 20 minutes. The longer you soak the more magnesium you may absorb, the more relaxed you will be, the better the overall wellness you will feel! (Remember, something is better than nothing. Thus, if all you can handle or squeeze in is 10 minutes, don’t NOT do it!)
How often are you doing things for other people? How many times a day do you put extra effort into creating some type of beautiful experience for your partner, kids, friends and loved ones? How often do you do it for YOURSELF? Maybe put on some relaxing tunes (note* sound therapy), make a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine, dim the lights, light a candle or an essential oil diffuser. Go for what it is that you need in the moment. Don’t let it become an “I should” or “Have to” but rather let the process flow for what you are feeling today.
I try to soak at least once a week. I find that it aids to keep my anxiety at bay, helps with my psoriasis patches and is a perfect check off the self-care list! Remember, we can all always make time for the things we want, we simply choose to do it or we don’t.
Hot baths are dehydrating and exhausting for the body.
Reread: hot baths are dehydrating and exhausting for the body. Plan to take your bath in the evening or on a rainy weekend without much else to do.
Allow for some heat to leave your body through your head, hands or feet by sticking them out of the tub. I like to submerge my head and place my feet up the wall (a sneaky and restorative inversion yoga practice here!)
This could feel like a shock to the system… because it is. Hot and cold therapy is commonly used for the aid in pain and injuries. Cold water can help further to alleviate inflammation of the skin and lymph. Cold water will help direct blood flow away from the skin and back inward toward the organs, helping with circulation and organ function. Cold water will help close the pores of the skin and to cool the body over-all. Closing the pores will help to stop sweat glands from producing more sweat and it will help to keep bacteria out. Cold water will help to increase your heart rate again and bring you to a more alert state.
Fun Fact: Epsom is a place in England where the salts are cultivated from natural springs.
Another Fun Fact: the amniotic fluid that we were born in is the same mineral composition as the ocean. No wonder we are so drawn to and healed by the powers of Mother Nature’s version of amniotic fluid!
DISCLAIMER: There has been little to no scientific proof that any of this stuff actually works. It seems as though magnesium sulphate’s effects on the body is not enough of a pressing topic to be researched (or shall I say funded to be researched.) This article is simply information that I have gathered (via other biased opinions on the internet) and results that I personally have experienced with testing on myself. As all information you receive on the internet, take it with a grain of salt (pun intended) and be sure to seek a doctor before self diagnosing and prescribing any major medical condition. You are the only expert on your own body, trust its guidance!
Chelsea interviews professionals to bring YOU today’s most updated knowledge on nutrition and wellness.