How did we come to use the famous Epsom Salts in our everyday life?

Epsom Salts ‒ all you need to know!

History

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, in the 1600s a cowherd named Henry Wicker discovered a pool of water for his cows to drink at. On approach, they refused to drink it due to its bitter taste. It is said that on evaporation the salt became a laxative and was used for the treatment of constipation for the next 350 years.

Henry Wicker also noticed that the wounds on his cows that went through the water appeared to heal more quickly. People came from far and wide to visit Epsom for treatment, it was then that it became known as a spa town.

It wasn’t until 1695, that the salt was deemed the Epsom salt. A scientist named Nehemiah Grew tried to make more of the salt too, but the wells in Epsom soon dried up as did the town’s reputation as a spa destination.

What are the salts used for today?

These famous Salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, are still used today. However, its effects are not well researched, so its use remains as a home remedy for relaxation and sleep. Due to its ability to be dissolved in water, it is often added to baths, despite there being no evidence that your body can absorb minerals (magnesium or sulfates) through the skin.

Here are 6 things you might want to know about Epsom Salts:

1) Do not eat me!

Epsom Salts are for external use only and not to be confused with table salts; they are extremely bitter and should not be eaten!

2) An aid to relaxation

A warm Epsom salt bath can help relieve stress and anxiety due to its therapeutic nature which could help you to get a better night’s sleep.

3) Ease muscle and joint pain

It is said that its relaxing elements can help to ease muscle and joint pain, decreasing swelling and inflammation, which is why it is often used to aid muscle recovery after exercise. It is also associated with soothing dry skin, reducing foot odour and helping draw out infections from feet and ingrown toenails, though there is little scientific evidence towards this and the salts should not be used if you have any open wounds.

4) 15 minutes should do the trick

The Epsom Salt Council recommends placing 300 grams of Epsom salt into a bathtub filled with hot water. A nightly soak could help to ease pain, soothe muscles, relax the mind and lead to deeper sleep. The market for the salts is quite crowded so be sure to check that it is 100% magnesium sulfate. You can purchase it from most health shop’s and pharmacy’s and can often find it in supermarkets.

OK, so there isn’t a lot of evidence to support this old salt. Whilst most of its benefits are anecdotal, you could try magnesium supplements instead which may benefit sleep, stress, digestion, exercise, and pain in people who are deficient. Consult your doctor if you are considering trying this at home.