When I heard about the benefits of an Epsom salt bath for weight loss, I was intrigued. Taking long baths is one of my absolute favourite ways to relax. If I can shed some extra pounds while I’m in there, why not? Like everything I read online, I wanted to check out the truth to these claims before going out and buying a big bucket of Epsom salts.
I’d heard of Epsom salts before but in a bit of an unusual context – my friend pours a solution of the salts over her garden and says it makes the grass grow greener! Like apple cider vinegar, Epsom salts seem to be a jack-of-all-trades remedy so I’ve sorted the fact from the fiction for you. Read on to learn more!
What Are Epsom Salts?
To start with, Epsom salts aren’t technically salts. They are a naturally occurring compound of magnesium and sulfates originating in Surrey, England.
Magnesium and sulfate are both absorbed through your skin, into your bloodstream when you bathe in Epsom salts. (source)
Magnesium and sulfates have many effects on your body. Magnesium in particular is a vital element which aids the function of your enzymes. It also strengthens your bones and helps prevent osteoporosis, among other things. (source)
How Does an Epsom Salt Bath Help with Weight Loss?
I’m sorry to tell you, the short answer is – it doesn’t. Most websites claim that Epsom salts “detoxify” your whole body, making it more efficient and helping you shed pounds easily. Unfortunately “detoxification” is not a scientific term. In fact, it’s meaningless.
Your liver is the only part of your body that serves to “detoxify”. Any “toxins” entering your body such as junk food, pollution, etc are easily purified by your liver. More serious “toxins” like poisons need medical attention. So, Epsom salts won’t help you “detox”.
How then, do some people report a decrease in inches when they step out of the bath? The controversial Dr Oz demonstrated this on a TV show where a woman lost 1.5 inches from both her thighs and waist after taking a 10 minute Epsom salt bath on stage. (source) The reason for this is most likely due to loss of water weight through sweating in a hot bath. And a sample size of 1 is not exactly scientifically robust.
Another theory is that the “salt” water itself dehydrates you, again leading to loss of water weight. The mechanism is not dissimilar to pickling – adding a vegetable to salt solution to draw out water. Of course the effect is not as noticeable with an Epsom salt bath.
It’s a good solution if you want to lose a few inches temporarily for a special event, but the weight won’t stay off for longer than a few days, and you don’t want to make a habit of dehydrating yourself as it can lead to dizziness and fainting. (source)
Other Reasons to Take an Epsom Salt Bath
So I may have crushed your weight loss dreams but there are still a lot of other reasons to bathe in Epsom salts. I do it myself occasionally for the following benefits:
- It relieves sore muscles
- It eases the pain of minor injuries such as strains
- It helps with oily hair
- It soothes mild sunburn
- It’s a great whole-body exfoliator
- It provides my body with magnesium
How to Make an Epsom Salt Bath for Weight Loss
If you’ve read the facts and decided to go ahead with an Epsom salt bath to shed a little water weight while soothing your muscles – here’s how to do it:
- Start out by adding just one tablespoon of Epsom salt to your bath. After you have been using it for a few months, you can gradually increase to 2 cups. Don’t use more than this.
- You can add lots of other components to your bath along with the salts. Some examples are essential oils for fragrance (I like lavender) or apple cider vinegar for radiant skin.
- Relax in the bath for 15 – 25 minutes. You can use some of the dry salts to scrub and exfoliate your body.
I like to do the above once a week but 2 – 3 times a week is good too. Start slowly and if your body reacts well to it then you can increase the frequency. (source)
If you have a health condition, especially an issue with high or low blood pressure, check with your doctor if this bath is safe for you. If you are pregnant or have kidney disease, avoid Epsom salts altogether. (sources 1, 2)
Be careful if you’re new to hot baths. If the temperature is too high or you stand up suddenly, you could faint. I prefer not to take a bath if I’m alone in the house in case this happens. Make sure to bring a bottle of water with you in case you become dehydrated.
Don’t be tempted to take Epsom salts orally. It’s okay if you accidentally swallow a little bit of bath water but but one tablespoon contains more than 100 times your recommended daily allowance of magnesium so be careful. (source)
I hope this article has been enlightening, even if it didn’t give you the answers you wanted to hear. An Epsom salt bath is still lovely and relaxing but the best way to lose weight is by portion control and exercise.