Trouble Sleeping? Detoxing? Try Epsom Salts!


Epsom salt baths is another natural remedy that costs little, and is the salts are found at just about any drug store.  Most of us have heard of them, but until last summer I wasn’t sure what exactly they were used for.  Then a friend who shares a lot of her health related research with me suggested that I try supplementing my one of my children with magnesium.  Being wary of supplements, I saw that you can get magnesium through an epsom salt bath instead of orally, so the next time I was at Walmart I bought a container of epsom salts and dumped the whole 2 cups or so into her bath.  I don’t remember exactly what we were trying it out for, but I do remember that night was the first time she slept through the night in nearly 3 years.
I had thought she was just a light sleeper, and I just kept her in our room and helped her fall asleep and go back to sleep by patting her back every night.  But when she gets her baths, she sleeps so much more soundly and goes to sleep so much more easily.  I’m sure this isn’t the answer to everyone’s sleep issues, but it worked really well for hers!
After doing some more research on Epsom salts here are some links and maybe-reasons of how it works:
I asked her doctor if she could overdose, and the doctor replied that she wouldn’t overdose by absorbing too much through her skin.  So I feel comfortable with the baths.  If someone was really sensitive, it looks like the first sign of overdose would be diarrhea.
It’s always good to look at the criticisms of any treatment you’re going to try, especially long term. It’s advised to stay away from Epsom salts if you have kidney disease, or have a restricted salt intake.  I think in the Gerson Therapy book (cancer treatment through diet) he strongly advises against even touching Epsom salts during therapy.
Dead Sea Salts (our health food store has them in the bulk bin- that’s what’s pictured above, with lavender and rose hips) are supposed to be high in magnesium as well.
Epsom salts, or dead sea salts, at the least are a nice natural bath additive.  Add in couple drops of your favorite essential oil and you’re good to go, and may even detox or supplement at the same time!
Have you noticed Epsom salts working visibly in someone you know?

Some other simple, easy, and inexpensive remedies:
And then there’s all about GAPS, which isn’t simple but I think it’s fascinating

Update August 2010: After doing more research, it looks like both a magnesium deficiency is common in people who have trouble sleeping, and even moreso, the sulfur in some people is better utilized by the body when it is taken in through the skin. Sulfur is what we need to detoxify our bodies, so a sulfur deficiency would make the body too toxic; affecting the brain and sleep.

Part of the Natural Cures Carnival at Keeper of the Home

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  1. Ronnie says

    Magnesium, from Epsom Salts, is also good for reducing bruxism (night time teeth grinding). I had sore jaws for years until I started soaking in The Salts regularly.

    A soak is a wonderful treat for Mom. A few minutes of peace and quiet in which we can slow down and prepare our body for sleep. Try lighting a candle in the bathroom and turning off the lights while you soak.

    The reason Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) help with detox is that the Sulfate is absorbed through the skin, providing a nutrient crucial to completing the liver's detoxification reactions. What this means is that Epsom Salts permit the body to detoxify wastes that might otherwise be stored in fatty tissues until enough Sulfate is available to complete waste processing.

    Sulfate isn't the same thing as a sulfa drug, so it is safe for people who are allergic to sulfa (like me).

  2. says

    This is wonderful! I’m going to pas this on to a new friend who’s having trouble with her child sleeping tonight! =)=)

    I love how you present your research and seek to look at this from all sides (pro and con). This is a wonderful example of unbiased reporting (I might be getting a little carried away, but you know what I mean)! =)

  3. says

    I soak in a bath with 1 cup of epsom salt every night. Being 9 months pregnant, I don’t sleep that well and the baths definitely help with that. I can tell a difference between when I bathe before bed and when I don’t.

    Also, being at the end of my pregnancy, I get really irritable very easily. The baths really help me to relax and let things go.

  4. says

    I’ve never heard about Epsom salt baths helping with sleep. I know we have some and I always seem to have trouble sleeping so I will definitely be trying this.

    Thank you so much for the information!

  5. says

    Sulfur is important, but it is the Magnesium that helps you sleep. Calcium is contracting and Magnesium is relaxing. An epsom salt batch won’t cause diarrhea because the Mg isn’t going through the intestines. The fact that your body can absorb nutrients through the skin should make us all mindful of what we put ON our skin…soaps, hand cremes etc.
    Coconut oil applied on my skin before bed also helps me sleep longer.

  6. says

    I think you can overdo the salts, and while it’s not serious it can have a negative effect. The first time I tried it with my son I used quite a bit in his bath & he was *wired* & an emotional mess. On a discussion board they told me this can happen, and to start out with smaller amounts to see how it goes. Just wanted to throw that out there.

    • Elaine says

      It might be the warm bath that got your kid wired. I know that having a very warm bath can increase a person’s heart rate. If this happens it’s not always best to take a hot bath and then go directly to bed. Wait at least an hour first.

    • kate says

      It’s really truly a detox bath. I’m sure your sun was detoxing and this can take on all shapes and firms. The baths see too much for my daughter, so I make magnesium oil and spray it on her feet when she gets up and before bed! It works wonders!

  7. Hayley says

    Lisa, I don’t know if you’re still following this, but that could be a side effect of the detox. I know when I started drinking kombucha, and when i did a cleanse, I got really snappy, irritable, emotional and crabby for about a week. It’s all the toxins flooding (and leaving) your system, which is probably why the board told you to use less to start. It might have detoxed him too much at once.

    • Gabi says


      Can you use Kombucha while on the Gaps diet???
      I have read that if you let the kombucha ferment for 14 days the only sugars that are left are monosacharines, which I believe are allowed with Gaps (as this are the sugars that are in fruit and honey) but I have never heard from anyone doing Gaps and drinking Kombucha?!?
      I would love a reply!

      thanks, Gabi

      • Jennifer says


        I have been doing GAPS for 8 months and started back with my Kombucha without any difficulty. I let it sit for a week.


  8. simone says

    This really does work! I started using epsom salt three days ago for my back aches, not sleep. I have always had problems going to sleep and staying asleep, I avg about 4-5 hrs of sleep a night. After taking a 30 min soak in two cups of epsom salt everynight I have been getting 9-10 hours of sleep without waking up, AMAZING!

  9. Kelsey says

    You have inspired me to start doing this again! I tried this a few times last fall and noticed that my quality of sleep was much better, and that I fell asleep faster (I did have to make sure I was going right to bed because I was EXHAUSTED after the baths) but I just got lazy about it. But I really should start doing it again! And it’ll force me to scrub my tub so I can take a bath in it! :)

  10. Andrea says

    I don’t don’t know if this works for all baths (I don’t take them very often), but my daughter (3 months) and I had an Epsom salt bath (DH handed her to me after I had been in a while), and my ugly, calloused feet turned soft and all the old skin came off with only a little scrubbing, after I had babe in arms, all her cradle cap came off. It’s been over a week, and it hasn’t come back (I attribute that to GAPS)! She loved the water, BTW, and kicked and moved her arms, and smiled the whole time I was holding her. We need to do it again soon, but it is always such bother to get in. Once I do, it’s bliss!

  11. Heather says

    I had been taking nightly Epsom salt soaks for 20 minutes for healing of my achillis tendonitus. This did work. But now I have diareah every day. I have been off the salts for about 5 days. Any idea how long this side effect will hang around?

    • Cara says

      This isn’t medical advice ;) But in my experience sometimes your body just gets in the ‘habit’ of loose stools and it doesn’t go away quickly. I usually use one high dose of probiotic (biokult) to kind of stop the system back up, but probiotics have that affect on our family but not on everyone.

  12. says

    I’ve got a strange question. The house we are in doesn’t have a tub – only a shower. Is there any way possible to still benefit from the Epson Salt via shower? I would LOVE to know.


    • misty says

      The box also says you can make an epson salt compress for sore muscles by pouring a mixture of 1 cup epson salt and warm/hot water into a towel and use as compress. My daughter is a dancer and this is what I have instructed her to do when she moves to NYC cause usually only showers in the places she stays. :)

  13. says

    Magnesium is a crucial nutrient and most people are deficient. I learned about Mg while researching natural way to treat my daughter’s epilepsy. Eight months of Keppra turned her into someone whose behavior was so bad that the school began to look for placement. (She has a number of disabilities on the autism spectrum, as well.) I refused to use any of the anti-seizure meds and Mg has been controlling it for the last 4 months. She has also been Dairy-free, gluten-free and MSG free, and has received neurothereapy in the same time-frame.

  14. Marina says

    My 13 was recently diagnosed with autism and has never slept well. It was suggested I stuff a stuffed animal with epson salts for sleep. Has anyone heard of this or had success with this?

  15. says

    I take magnesium – the white powder. It’s great. If my body needs it then I get no side effects but if my body has it in abundance then I get a great side effect. It creates oxygen in the bowels which cleans them out. so either way it’s a win win.

  16. Suzanne says

    My husband slept great after an epsom salt soak (usually struggles with insomnia) he tried for the first time yesterday. Shoud we repeat the soak daily? Weekly? Monthly? Can you overdose on epsom soaks?

    Thanks for your help!

  17. Amber says

    I have been putting about 2 cups a day of dead sea salt bath in my water when I threw up from a cough I taste salt strong and if I taste my skin like on a cracked nuckle it’s like salt is this due to to much to often or can I keep going.

  18. says

    I’ve noticed that when soaking in an Epsom salts bath, if it’s your first time (or has been a long time, you really need to detox), and if you put about 2 cups of salts in the bath, you can begin to get “antsy” in the bath. I attribute this to the detox process, as the salts begin helping pull the toxins out pretty quickly. You will almost feel as if you want to jump out of the tub. If this happens, just drain the bath, fill with fresh water, and then add another cup of salts. It will feel so much better.

    I recently found out I’m allergic to sulpha drugs and broke out in an itchy red rash all over my body. The rash spots seem to be lingering and not clearing. I’m going to try epsom salts bath to get it out of my system. Will report back.


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