Maybe you’re too young to remember it. But if you’re a fan of nostalgic TV, perhaps you recall the “Calgon, take me away,” commercial.
Taking a luxurious bath is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s also one of the best ways to manage stress.
For decades, people have been taking salt baths to relieve sore, achy muscles.
And for even longer, people have been soaking to detoxify the body with magnesium salts. But are there any epsom salt detox bath side effects to worry about?
Now, to be sure, detox is a trendy word. There’s detox juices, detox pills, and cleanse programs. But in essence, all you need to do to detox is poo.
Unfortunately, because of poor diet and environmental pollution, not everybody is a prolific poo-er. Of course, there are different ways to relieve constipation.
There’s fiber supplements (which aren’t the best as consuming fat is much better for constipation). But sometimes, these cause even more bloating and abdominal pressure. There’s also the chalky taste.
There’s also enemas … what sounds more pleasant to you: an epsom salt detox bath or an enema?
A Very Brief History of Detox Baths
If you’re eliminatory system is backed-up, yes, taking a salt bath probably sounds delightful. (It may also help relieve hemorrhoids.)
After all, how can a natural substance containing just a couple minerals—magnesium and sulfate—be bad for you?
But as you’ll find out shortly, taking one of these soaks can be deadly.
Don’t freak out. You’ll probably be fine taking a salt soak. And, you probably won’t experience Epsom salt detox bath side effects.
However, it’s a good idea to keep reading to find out why side effects can occur and how much magnesium sulfate is too much.
First, though, let’s take a look at how the detox bath became a thing….
In this research article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal from over 100 years ago, the author writes:
“‘There is nothing new under the sun’ is a common saying, and never was this truer than in regard to the use of that old medicinal friend, magnesium sulphate [this is how British spell the mineral]. This drug has, of course, been used internally as a mild hydragogue for many generations….”
What’s a hydragogue?
The medical definition is, “a cathartic that causes copious watery discharges from the bowels.”
Indeed, what a feeling of catharsis it is to have a bowel movement after being constipated for so long.
The article from 1917 goes on to say that magnesium sulfate is good for relief of pain in local inflammatory conditions.
Epsom Salt Detox Baths: 400-Year Old Health Fad
But the use of it as a therapeutic bath dates much further back. The author of the 1917 article, one Colonel R. D. Rudolf, describes the discovery of Epsom salt and its subsequent healing benefits:
A farmer named Henry Wickes, or Wicker, in 1618, discovered a small watering hole. This was in Epsom, England.
However, the farmer’s cattle had no interest in drinking the water. Says Col. Rudolf,
“This led to much talking and further examination of the well, and then someone suggested that it might be a medicinal water, and soon the local people began to use it as such in the bathing of various open sores and painful affections.”
In 1645, a man named Lord Dudley North, published a book. And this book is thought to be the first to describe the virtues of Epsom waters “to the King’s sick subjects.”
Soaking in this healing water was far more practical for English peasants than other alternatives. Lord North writes, “The journey to the German spas being too expensive and inconvenient to sick persons, and great sums of money being thereby carried out of the Kingdom.”
Fast forward a few centuries. Because of modern-day Standard American Diets (SAD) and other poor lifestyle factors, many people are deficient in magnesium (mag).
And having low mag levels not only leads to cramps. It can also cause a long laundry list of other problems.
From mental disorders to asthma to osteoporosis and more … mag is not a mineral in which you want to be deficient.
Moreover, a magnesium deficiency can cause a disruption of up to 300 enzymes in your body. That’s how many enzymes the mineral acts on.
Think of enzymes as spark plugs for your car. Without that source of ignition, your cells wouldn’t get the nutrients they need. Enzymes spark biochemical reactions in your body.
These reactions control everything from blood pressure to heart beat to getting a restful night’s sleep and more.
This is why more and more people are becoming aware of how important this mineral is.
But often overlooked is the other mineral in Epsom salt baths: sulfate.
And one of the many biological processes sulfate performs is flushing toxins from the body.
Epsom Salt Detox Bath Side Effects: Worth The Risk?
However, before taking your first soak, it’s important to understand what magnesium sulfate does….
According to the Global Library of Women’s Medicine (GLOWM), magnesium sulfate depresses the central nervous system. Ditto for the lungs and respiratory system.
In addition, it can cause flushing (of the skin, not the toilet) and sweating. It also dilates the blood vessels. This, in turn, decreases blood pressure.
Sounds like a good thing that it lowers blood pressure, right? Well, not exactly.
Consider that 1 in every 3 American adults have high blood pressure. Many of these 30 million or so people take medication to control high blood pressure.
Consequently, one of the greatest Epsom salt detox bath side effects is dangerously low blood pressure.
This is especially true if you are on antihypertensive medication. That’s because combining a salt bath with the medication may cause your blood pressure to precariously dip.
Other Therapeutic Uses of Epsom Salt
The research published at GLOWM.com states that magnesium sulfate prevents or controls seizures. In pregnant women, it can prevent or control preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Some people suffer seizures from having low mag levels. Epsom salts can be used in medical settings to treat these seizures.
Epsom Salt Detox Bath Side Effects: Symptoms
Without doubt, having adequate magnesium (and sulfate) levels is important. But before you tear open the bag of Epsom salt and pour the whole bag in your tub, keep in mind this: too much of anything is never a good thing.
And Epsom salt is no different. In fact, if you use too much, you can have mild gastrointestinal upset. This includes nausea, abdominal cramping and/or diarrhea.
But Epsom salt detox bath side effects can be more serious. For instance, you can have an allergic reaction such as a rash or hives.
Or you can have breathing difficulties or chest tightness. In addition, too much Epsom salt can produce swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue.
Furthermore, you can feel dizzy. Your heartbeat can become irregular. You can even experience muscle paralysis or weakness.
It may seem obvious to you to read the recommended dosage and stick to it.
But not everybody is as smart as you are. Still, serious side effects of Epsom salt can occur with the recommended dosages, though they are rare in this instance.
Moreover, if you have kidney disease or dysfunction, it might be a good idea not to take a salt bath.
That’s because magnesium is processed by the kidneys. And if your kidneys are too weak to process magnesium, toxic levels can build up of the mineral.
And if you’re taking certain medications, first ask your doctor if it’s safe to soak in it. This includes, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
Detox Bath with Epsom Salt: Biggest Benefit
Getting more magnesium absorbed into your body is the biggest benefit of an Epsom salt bath. And if you suffer from constipation, the laxative effect is also a huge bonus.
But make sure the toilet is accessible because of soaking for just 30-minutes, it might be time to go. If you don’t have to go shortly after the bath, be patient; it can take up to several hours to work.
How much Epsom salt for detox bath?
It doesn’t take much for it to work. And if you’re not used to it, don’t be tempted to add more than the dosage.
As you can read above, Epsom salt detox bath side effects are a possibility.
All it takes is 2 cups of magnesium sulfate. Save money on it buy buying a large bag (20 lb.) from a hardware or gardening store.
To enhance the Calgon luxurious effect, add 10 drops of your favorite relaxing essential oil. For best results, filter the water in your bathtub. If that’s not possible, adding a cup of baking soda can help negate the potentially harmful effects of chlorine and other chemicals.
Just remember that too much magnesium can have unpleasant effects to say the least. In the most extreme cases, it can put you into a coma and kill you.
Epsom salt as a detox
Epsom salt enemas have long been used as a way to relieve constipation. The first death reported in a medical journal from a magnesium sulfate enema was published in 1943.
Unfortunately, a 7-year-old male died from high magnesium caused by a magnesium sulfate enema.
Magnesium toxicity is a serious Epsom salt detox bath side effect. It’s more common in people with impaired kidneys. But it can happen in those with normal-functioning kidneys as well.
If you have digestive issues, (especially, gastrointestinal motility) it can put you at greater risk for toxicity.
The statistical chances of experiencing Epsom salt detox bath side effects are probably as low as getting bit by a shark. That being said, though, it helps to know if the water is safe to enter….