Can You Really Detox From An Epsom Salt Bath?

If you've heard of or researched integrative medicine, a healing-oriented medical practice that incorporates therapeutic approaches alongside conventional medicine, you're probably no stranger to Epsom salt. A much-hyped ingredient, Epsom salt is a popular quick fix for the treatment of swelling, arthritis pain, fibromyalgia, ingrown toenails, insomnia, psoriasis, and sore muscles, among other types of minor aches, WebMD points out. To reap the supposed health benefits of Epsom salt, some people soak themselves in relaxing Epsom salt baths or take Epsom salt by mouth as a supplement or laxative dissolved in water.

In recent years, the popularity of Epsom salt in the medicine world has crossed over into the skincare world, where many skincare fans and estheticians claim that people can use Epsom salt baths to detox and flush toxins out of their bodies. Today, the word "detox" is often used lightheartedly and dubiously, with products, dietary plans, and home remedies boasting supposedly detoxing benefits all over the place. In alternative medicine, detoxification is the process of naturally ridding the body of toxins and toxicants that supposedly result from daily exposure to hazardous elements in the environment and the things we consume, per Medical News Today. That's why our body needs detoxing so our energy can be boosted and our immune system strengthened. But does Epsom salt actually offer these benefits?

An Epsom salt bath might not be the detoxing internal shower you need

The first thing you need to know about Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is that it's not actually salt. It's a chemical compound containing high concentrations of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen and takes on a crystallized form similar to table salt, per Pharma Spa. Epsom salt got its name from the little town of Epson in the southwest of London, where it was discovered in 1618. Obtained by evaporating lake water rich in magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt doesn't contain sodium chloride and cannot be used to flavor or preserve food like sea salt.

Although Epsom salt baths have been extensively acclaimed for their benefits in treating magnesium shortage, constipation, and muscle stiffness, their ability to detox the skin has been called into question. A widely circulated theory about detoxing Epsom salt baths is that when in water, Epsom salts dissolve into magnesium and sulfate, which penetrate the body through the skin. What follows is a process called reverse osmosis, where these minerals remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Responding to this theory, physician Dr. Nitin Kumar (via Shape) argues there's no scientific evidence to back up the assertion that particles can pass through the skin in scientifically relevant amounts and draw substances out in the claimed manner. If there are real detoxing effects from an Epsom salt bath, they are based on only anecdotal evidence and not supported by scientific data.

Who shouldn't use Epsom salt baths

Although there's barely any conclusive study to back up the benefits of Epsom salt baths, claims of the healing power of Epsom salt baths in the integrative medicine circle remain in circulation. Generally speaking, Epsom salt baths or foot soaks are safe, and you can try them at home and see for yourself the benefits they bring. If you have constipation issues, you can take oral Epsom salt alongside prescribed medication, as the FDA Report has listed it as a laxative that helps with occasional constipation.

Those who shouldn't avail themselves of Epsom salt or should check with their healthcare providers in advance, according to WebMD, are people with excessive magnesium or low amount of calcium in their blood, myasthenia gravis, progressive muscle weakness with carcinoma, kidney diseases, or severe renal impairment. People with diabetes should steer clear of Epsom salt baths or foot soaks, as they can exacerbate foot and skin conditions. Epsom salt baths are also not recommended for people with skin infections, open wounds, or severe burns. If you'd like to try out Epsom salt baths or take oral Epsom salt, you should check with your healthcare provider in advance to prevent any sudden discomfort or drastic changes to your body.