Uses and benefits of Epsom salt

What is Epsom salt?

Epsom salt is a pure mineral compound made of magnesium and sulfate. These naturally occurring minerals have numerous health, fitness and beauty benefits ─ and it can even be used in the garden or to make crafts. You can find Epsom salt almost anywhere you purchase personal care items, including grocery stores, pharmacies and popular online retailers.

For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.

Epsom salt soak to boost magnesium


Prevent magnesium deficiency

Most Americans do not get enough magnesium from their diets, a problem that causes a range of health risks, according to a 50-year veteran widely considered one of the world’s leading magnesium researchers.

Many Americans are deficient in magnesium due to diets high in processed foods. Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D. N.D., a member of the Magnesium for Health Foundation, says a lack of magnesium can contribute to dozens of health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, fatigue, muscle cramping and inflammation.

To increase your body’s magnesium levels, Dr. Dean recommends soaking in Epsom salt:

  1. Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater
  2. Take Epsom salt baths daily

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Fight off colds and the flu

Dr. Theresa Ramsey, cofounder of the Center for Natural Healing in Arizona, says that soaking in Epsom salt helps spur a process called vasodilation, which increases white blood cell production and helps the body fight illnesses quicker. In addition, Dr. Margaret Philhower says Epsom salt baths can help relax muscles and relieve body aches.

To fight off colds and the flu, Dr. Mao Shing Ni, an award-winning doctor and best-selling author, recommends soaking in Epsom salt:

  1. Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater
  2. Soak daily for 15 to 20 minutes
  3. Optional: Add lavender for additional calming, relaxing benefits

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Treat sunburn, bug bites and rashes

Dr. Joe Matusic, a pediatrician and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics, says Epsom salt can help soothe mosquito bites, bee stings, mild sunburn, poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac by reducing itching and swelling.

Dr. Matusic recommends treating itchy skin with the following home remedies:

  • Make a compress by soaking a cotton washcloth in 1 cup of cold water and 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt, then apply to the skin.
  • Take an Epsom salt bath by adding 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater and soaking for at least 12 minutes.

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Soothe sore feet, fight foot fungus and treat blisters

Dr. Jeffrey Bowman, an award-winning foot doctor, recommends soaking your feet in Epsom salt to reduce foot odor, ease muscle and joint pain, soothe swollen and inflamed feet, and fight foot and toe fungal infections. According to Dr. Bowman, Epsom salt helps draw out infections and prevents them from growing larger.

Dr. Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare in Manhattan, recommends the following foot soak to eliminate calluses and treat blisters:

  1. Mix 4-parts water, 1-part apple cider vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of Epsom salt
  2. Soak your feet for 20 minutes
  3. Apply castor oil, tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil and exfoliate with a pumice stone

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Reduce PMS symptoms and hormonal migraines

Dr. Taz, who has served as the medical expert for CNN Headline News and has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, says a magnesium deficiency could be a contributor to many common women’s health conditions, including Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), hormonal migraines, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

To help treat the symptoms of these women’s health conditions, Dr. Taz recommends:

  • Taking Epsom salt baths
  • Eating magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, almonds and dark chocolate
  • Taking a magnesium supplement

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Epsom salt to achieve fitness goals


Ease muscle aches and joint pains

Dr. Mao, an award-winning doctor and best-selling author, recommends soaking in Epsom salt to improve blood flow and ease aches and pains caused by strains, sprains and arthritis:

  1. Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater
  2. Soak daily for 15 to 20 minutes

Marni Sumbal, an exercise physiologist and board-certified sports dietician, recommends soaking in Epsom salt after a workout to help repair muscle damage and offset delayed inflammation:

  1. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a lukewarm bath
  2. Soak for 20-40 minutes
  3. Alternative: If a bath isn’t an option, use Epsom salt as a body scrub during a shower

Pain expert Vicky Vlachonis recommends a Salt & Pepper bath for chronic pain to help soothe muscles, heal the mind and lead to a deeper sleep:

  1. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater
  2. Add 3 to 5 drops of aromatherapy black pepper oil (not applied directly on the skin)
  3. Soak for at least 10 minutes

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Improve sleep

A magnesium deficiency can lead to restless nights. Carolyn Dean, M.D. N.D., one of the nation’s top natural physicians, says the reason Epsom salt helps you sleep is because the magnesium relaxes muscles, improves digestion, balances blood pressure, and in turn, gives you more energy.

Wellness guru Chris Johnson recommends Epsom salt baths and foot soaks to restore magnesium levels in the body:

  1. Add 3 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater
  2. Soak once or twice a week for 10 minutes
  3. When a bath isn’t an option, add 3 cups of Epsom salt to a foot soak or create a way to soak your feet while showering

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Reduce stress

Excess adrenaline and stress are known to drain the body of magnesium. A deficiency in magnesium can reduce your levels of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.

Jeff Halevy, a fitness expert, recommends Epsom salt soaks along with meditation and yoga to help reduce stress:

  1. Add 1 cup of lavender-scented Epsom salt to your bathwater
  2. Soak for 10 minutes

Dr. Susan Albers, a nationally recognized psychologist, says the water therapy of soaking in an Epsom salt bath helps quiet and relax the body, as well as center you and help you make better choices.

Here are two different bath recipes recommended by Dr. Albers:

  • Add 2 cups of Epsom salt and ½ cup of olive oil into warm bathwater and soak for 15 minutes
  • To help relax your body as well as soothe tired muscles, mix ¼ cup mustard seed powder, ¼ cup Epsom salt, ½ cup baking soda and six drops of your favorite essential oil. Then, pour the mixture in a hot bath.

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Natural beauty treatments with Epsom salt


DIY bath salts and bath bombs

Bath salts and bath bombs make great gifts and perfectly complement self-care routines. Natural beauty expert Janice Cox recommends using Epsom salt in bath salt recipes to help relieve stress, soothe sore muscles, improve sleep and fight colds.

Here is Janice Cox’s recipe for her relaxing lavender oatmeal bath:

  1. Place ¼ cup dried lavender flowers and ½ cup oatmeal (whole oats) in a food processor or blender and process on high until you have a fine mixture that resembles whole grain flour.
  2. In a bowl, stir the lavender-oatmeal mixture with 1 cup Epsom salt, and pour into a clean, dry container.
  3. Add ½ cup to your bathwater as you fill the tub.
  4. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Exfoliate face and body

Epsom salt is a great natural skin exfoliant recommended by beauty experts due to its all-natural ingredients and affordability.

During the summer months, try this DIY body scrub from celebrity skin care guru Ole Henriksen to boost circulation before sun exposure and allow for better absorption of sunscreen:

  1. Mix 4 oz. of Epsom salt and 4 oz. coffee grounds in a medium bowl, then add 1 tsp. eucalyptus oil and just enough sesame oil to form a smooth paste.
  2. Get in the shower, wet your skin and then turn off the water.
  3. Use the entire palm of each hand to vigorously scrub your body from your neck to your feet.
  4. Rinse.

During the winter months, try this DIY face mask to moisturize your skin from Dale Noelle, founder of TRUE Model Management:

  1. Mix 1 cup rolled oats, 2 tbsp. Epsom salt, 1 cup water and 1 tsp. honey until combined.
  2. Wet your face and apply the mixture to your skin in circular motions, covering your face evenly.
  3. Leave the mask on for 5 minutes.
  4. Rinse your face with warm water.

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Prep for a manicure or pedicure

Epsom salt can be used both as a soak to help soften skin and cuticles, and as an exfoliant to remove dry skin, calluses, and rough patches from your feet.

Celebrity podiatrist Dr. Suzanne Levine recommends soaking your feet in Epsom salt to combat swelling and soothe sore feet:

  1. Add ½ cup Epsom salt to a gallon of lukewarm water
  2. Soak your feet for 15 minutes at least three times a week

Dr. Levine also recommends using Epsom salt to create a natural foot exfoliant to remove callouses and hard skin:

  1. Mix ½ cup Epsom salt with a holistic, natural moisturizing agent, such as 5% or 10% glycolic cream
  2. Massage into tough patches of skin to smooth and soften your feet
  3. Store in an air-tight container in the shower

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Fertilize garden with Epsom salt

Gardening with Epsom salt

Epsom salt can be used in the garden to replenish the important nutrients magnesium and sulfate in the soil. These naturally-occurring minerals can help seeds germinate and produce vitamins for higher yields and more blooms. For best results, have your soil tested by your county extension agent to see if your soil has a magnesium or sulfate deficiency.

Here’s how to prep your garden with Epsom salt:

  1. Sprinkle 1 cup of Epsom salt over every 100 square feet of your garden
  2. Mix into the soil before planting

Epsom salt can also be used to help grow house plants, peppers, tomatoes, roses, fruit, and lawns, trees and shrubs. Learn more.

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DIY bath bombs with Epsom salt

Crafts with Epsom salt

Epsom salt is a go-to craft ingredient for its likeness to fresh fallen snow. There are a number of holiday-themed crafts you can make, from shimmering luminaries to ice-frosted windows and indoor snowballs. Epsom salt can also be used for science crafts for kids, including a crystal garden and a unique suncatcher. Get some inspiration via our articles below, and from Amanda Formaro, who runs the website Crafts by Amanda.

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