Although spring is just around the corner, in Halifax it’s difficult to believe for the towering snow banks and ice-riddled sidewalks. Yesterday’s snowfall seems to have been particularly hard on our spirits after the teasing days of sun, warmer temperatures and melting ice we had last week. Muscles are aching and moods are low as we grab our shovels and hope that this is that last storm we have to stomach this winter.

One of the easiest, most blissful treatments for improving muscle pain and easing tension and stress is the Epsom salt bath. This therapeutic tool is by no means cutting edge, but there is a reason it stands the test of time.

In North America, magnesium deficiency is an issue for more than 60% of adults – most likely the result of dietary insufficiency. Because this mineral is involved with the activity of hundreds of enzymes in the human system, the side effects of deficiency are numerous. This can be addressed through supplementation but research has shown that magnesium and sulfate are both absorbed by the skin during Epsom salt baths. In one study, participants with deficient magnesium levels showed increased plasma magnesium levels within a single treatment, and urinary levels of magnesium were shown to increase in patients who had sufficient levels prior to bathing. Restoring sufficient magnesium levels helps to decrease inflammation and muscle/joint pain, calm the nervous system, decrease stress, encourage detoxification of harmful toxins through improved digestive and enzyme activity, and improve circulatory and heart health.

How To:

Epsom salt can be purchased at most grocery, drug and health food stores.

The amount of salt used is dependent on the reason for treatment.

  • Muscle Pain, Strains and Bruises: 4 cups in an average bathtub with average amount of hot water **If you have back pain after shoveling – this one is for you!
  • Relaxing/sedative Bath: 2 cups in hot/warm water
  • Foot Bath: ½ cup

Bathing Time: 12 minutes minimum, but aim for 20-30 minutes – as long as the water is warm.

IMPORTANT: It is very important to drink water before, during and after an Epsom salt bath. Otherwise it can cause dehydration and result in aggravated symptoms.

**If you are pregnant please consult your doctor before using an Epsom salt bath.**

For more treatments that can relieve shoveling-related muscle pain look into your healthcare plan. Most extended plans have at least some coverage for naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy.

Use your benefits – Your body will thank you!

Note: This blog posting is not in place of a visit to your naturopathic doctor. Please see a health professional before taking any of the supplements/recommendations provided here within. This is to ensure that the supplements you take work well for your particular diagnosis and treatment plan.