Best-selling author Dr. Mao Shing Ni Says Health Benefits from the Magnesium and Sulfate in Epsom Salt Include Easing Sore Muscles, Improving Sleep, Fighting the Cold and Flu
An award-winning doctor and best-selling author says he recommends soaking in Epsom salt to help improve sleep, fight the cold and flu, soothe sore muscles, relieve itchy scalps and reduce discomfort in the eyes and neck.
“Epsom salt has so many beneficial uses,” says Dr. Mao Shing Ni, author of the best-selling book Secrets of Longevity and cofounder of two Southern California institutions – Yo San University , a leading school of Traditional Chinese Medicine that’s on the forefront of integrative healthcare education, and the Tao of Wellness, an acclaimed center for nutrition, Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
“It’s such a benign substance, but it has so many healing properties.”
Dr. Mao’s recommendations are highly regarded. He’s a 38th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine, an award-winning expert who’s regularly featured in national media outlets and author of a new book, Live Your Ultimate Life – Ancient Wisdom to Harness Success, Health and Happiness. He’s also earned two impressive nicknames. On the show “Sex and the City,” he was affectionately called “Dr. Wow.” Others call him “Doctor to the Stars,” and the covers of his books include testimonials from Robert Downey Jr., Jim Carrey, Helen Hunt, Arianna Huffington and Dr. Oz.
Dr. Mao often recommends Epsom salt, which is actually magnesium sulfate, as a home remedy. He suggests adding 1 to 2 cups in a bath (2 or 3 depending on the size of the tub and the amount of water) and soaking daily for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also add lavender to increase the calming, relaxing benefits, he says.
The magnesium and sulfate is easily absorbed through the skin, Dr. Mao says, comparing the baths to hot springs in Europe. He says soaking in Epsom salt offers several health benefits, including:
- Easing pain and aches in muscles and joints – That includes discomfort caused by strains, sprains and arthritis. “The daily bath therapy is so wonderful – people do feel great from it.”
For arthritic patients, Dr. Mao says soaking in Epsom salt improves circulation. “This becomes a daily part of the health regimen. I recommend it for everyone.”
- Fighting colds and the flu – The soaks increase your body’s temperature, causing you to sweat and helping your body’s immune system fight germs, he says. The sulfur from Epsom salt also helps kills bacteria and fungus, Dr. Mao says.
“Sulfur compounds are, in fact, used in antibiotics for a reason,” he says. “For people with common colds, this can shorten the duration of the ailment.”
- Improving sleep – Muscle tension is a big reason people can’t sleep, Dr. Mao says, and it’s often because their blood pressure is too high. The magnesium in Epsom salt helps improve blood flow and relax your muscles and extremities.
“It helps people relax not only their bodies,” he says, “but also their minds.”
- Relieving an itchy or oily scalp – Dr. Mao recommends taking half a handful of Epsom salt and scrubbing your scalp in the shower for 10 minutes, before washing it off and shampooing. The magnesium reduces itching, and the sulfur is a natural anti-bacterial agent.
“It acts as an exfoliant,” he says.
- Relaxing and lowering blood pressure – If a bath is not possible, Dr. Mao recommends soaking your feet in Epsom salt for 15 to 20 minutes and breathing deeply while meditating. The combination of the soak and stress release meditation has immediate benefits, he says.
“It’s proven in my practice to be extremely effective,” Dr. Mao says. “We check blood pressure before and after, and, lo and behold, it drops by eight to 10 points.”
- Relieving either headaches and neck pain or discomfort in the eyes from issues such as staring at computer screens for too long – Fill a cheesecloth with Epsom salt, Dr. Mao says, and dip it in hot water for 20 seconds. Then let it drip and cool off slightly before using it as a compress on your eyes or the back of your neck. After the compress cools further, place it back in the hot water, and keep doing this for seven to 10 minutes, he says.
“The results are pretty stunning,” he says. “Within 10 minutes, there should be a visible decrease in the pain.”
Epsom salt can also be ingested to help with constipation. Dr. Mao doesn’t recommend consuming it on a regular basis, but for a temporary laxative, he says people can add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to a tall glass of water. Depending on the results, people can either add or subtract Epsom salt, he says.
Note: For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.