Lavender Oil

Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis)

Lavender is perhaps the most well-known of the essential oils and for good reason. Lavender essential oil is renowned for its many beneficial properties, including promoting calm, relaxation, and being a nervous tension reliever. It can also be added to a carrier oil to help reduce the appearance of scars and wrinkles and help soothe alterations in skin integrity, such as during sun exposure or a minor cooking burn.

Early and modern aromatherapy texts advocate for lavender’s use as an antibacterial essential oil. The leaves and stems of the plant were used to prepare decoctions against digestive system diseases and rheumatism, and lavender was valued for its cosmetic purposes. The Romans used lavender oil for bathing, cooking and purifying the air. And in the Bible, lavender oil was among the aromatics used for anointing and healing.

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You will find Lavender essential oil in many of Mother Jai’s products.

The proven health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, disinfect the scalp and skin, prevent acne, enhance blood circulation, and treat respiratory problems. Lavender oil is used extensively in aromatherapy and works as a natural sleep aid. Its potent antibacterial nature makes it a wonderful household cleanser and deodorant.

Lavender essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia), primarily through steam distillation. Lavender flowers are known for their calming fragrance and have been used for making potpourri for centuries. The Latin name of lavender is Lavare, which means “to wash”. This is because lavender flowers and lavender essential oil have been used since ancient times by the Romans, Persians, Greeks, and Egyptians as a bath additive and perfume.

Lavender essential oil is a pure oil and differs from certain commercial lavender oils which may be diluted and are often sold as perfumes. Lavender perfume and body sprays are popular due to their fresh and floral scent. On the other hand, pure lavender essential oil is frequently used in various forms including as an aromatherapy oil, in gels, infusions, lotions, soaps, baby products, and candles. It is also used to make tea, lemonades, syrups, aromatic beverages, and in baked dishes.

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Lavender (scientific name Lavandula angustifolia) is commonly contaminated with related species, including Lavandula hybrida, which is a cross between Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia, from which lavandin oil is obtained.

PARTS USED: Flowering tops

EXTRACTION METHOD: Water-steam distilled

NOTE CLASSIFICATION: Middle

AROMA: Sweet, floral, herbaceous

BLENDS WELL WITH: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cedar Atlas, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grapefruit, Juniper Berry, Cistus / Labdanum, Lemon, Lemongrass, Mandarin, Sweet Marjoram, Oakmoss Absolute, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Peppermint, Pine, Ravensara aromatica, Rose, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Thyme, and Vetivert.

Major Constituents of Bulgarian Lavender Essential Oil: Linalyl acetate, Linalool, (Z)-B-Ocimene, Lavandulyl acetate, Terpinene-4-ol, B-Caryophyllene, (E)-B-Farnesene, (E)-B-Ocimene, 3-Octanyl acetate, etc. See Essential Oil Safety for constituent breakdown for oils distilled from Lavender angustifolia grown in other regions.

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[E. Schmidt, The Characteristics of Lavender Oils from Eastern Europe. (Perfumer & Flavorist 28, 2003), 48-60. Source cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 326.]

BENEFITS & USES OF LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

Acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, athlete’s foot, bruises, burns, chicken pox, colic, cuts, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, dysmenorrhea, earache, flatulence, headache, hypertension, insect bites, insect repellent, itching, labor pains, migraine, oily skin, rheumatism, scabies, scars, sores, sprains, strains, stress, stretch marks, vertigo, whooping cough. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 56-67.]

Aids in Digestion: Lavender oil is useful for digestion because it increases the mobility of food within the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile, thus aiding in the treatment of indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Air Freshener: The same way you use lavender oil as a perfume, you can use it around your home as a natural, toxic-free air freshener. Either spray lavender oil around your home or try diffusing it. To create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom before you fall asleep, try spraying the lavender oil and water mixture directly onto your bed sheets or pillow.

Anti-bacterial: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to a variety of diseases. Lavender has antibacterial and antiviral qualities that make it perfect for defending the body against rare diseases like TB, typhoid, and diphtheria, according to early research in the 20th century.

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Antidepressant: Some research shows that lavender aromatherapy reduces depression after childbirth in some women.

Antioxidant Protection: Free radicals, like toxins, chemicals and pollutants, are arguably the most dangerous and most common risk factor for every disease that affects Americans today. Free radicals are responsible for shutting down your immune system and can cause unbelievable damage to your body. Thankfully, lavender essential oil is a natural antioxidant that works to prevent and reverse disease

Bug Repellent: The smell of lavender essential oil is potent for many types of bugs like mosquitoes, midges, and moths. Apply some lavender oil on the exposed skin when outside to prevent these irritating bites. Furthermore, if you do happen to be bitten by one of those bugs, lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce the irritation and the pain associated with bug bites.

Chemical Free Lip Balm: Lavender oil is excellent for preventing sunburns on the lips and also healing chapped, dried lips. Try adding a couple of drops of oil to shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil or another “carrier oil” and then rubbing it into your lips for protection whenever you will be in the sun.

Colic Relief in Babies: through its pain relieving and anti-anxiety benefits, babies with colic experience calming relief when applied to the feet or diffused in the room. Results from one small study show that massaging a combination of lavender and almond oils onto the belly of infants for 5-15 minutes at the onset of colic reduces crying time by about 7 hours per week.

Complementary Cancer Therapy: A 2012 study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines shows that aromatherapy, particularly using lavender oil, helps patients with cancer cope with stress, nausea, chronic pain and depression. Because lavender oil works to stimulate the immune system, boost mood, improve sleep and fight stress, it can be used as a therapeutic agent.

There is a significant research on the effects of lavender, in combination with other essential oils, as a way to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer in mice. This could be an indication of an increased chance of lavender battling carcinogenic effects and the presence of cancer.

Massaging lavender oil into the back of your neck, chest, wrists and temples can induce relaxing and calming effects. If you are experiencing muscle or joint pain, or pain at the site of injections, apply 2–3 drops of lavender to the affected area.

Dementia Support: because lavender improves circulation and has strong antioxidant benefits the chances of developing dementia are reduced. It can also help to improve events and their longevity when patients have dementia. Some research shows that using lavender oil in a diffuser at night reduces agitation in people with dementia.

Diabetes Natural Treatment:  In a nutshell, lavender essential oil treatment protected the body from the following diabetes symptoms:

  • Increased blood glucose (the hallmark of diabetes)
  • Metabolic disorders (especially fat metabolism)
  • Weight gain
  • Liver and kidney antioxidant depletion
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction
  • Liver and kidney lipoperoxidation (when free radicals “steal” necessary fat molecules from cell membranes)

Ear Infections: Early research shows that administering ear drops containing lavender and other herbal extracts improves ear pain in people with ear infections. However, this herbal combination does not appear to be more effective than using a skin-numbing agent along with the antibiotic amoxicillin.

Fall Prevention: There is some evidence that attaching a pad with lavender oil onto the neckline of clothing reduces the risk of falling by 43% in nursing home residents.

Flavor Booster: Lavender is a great flavor enhancer in things like grain-free muffins, teas and even salad dressings. Lavender oil is completely edible, but you will want to use a very small amount since the taste is very powerful. You’ll also want to purchase only a high-quality, 100 percent pure grade oil from a reputable company.

Heals Cuts & Burns: Widely known for its antimicrobial properties, for centuries lavender oil has been used to prevent various infections and combat bacterial and fungal disorders. Research shows that lavender oil speeds the healing of burns, cuts, scrapes and wounds — and a big part of this is because of its antimicrobial compounds.

A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine evaluated how lavender’s antimicrobial ability is enhanced when it’s blended with other essential oils, like clove, cinnamon and tea tree oil. Researchers found that a 1:1 ratio of these oils was found to be the most effective in fighting against Candida albicans and Staph aureus — two common causes of many fungal and bacterial infections that lead to respiratory pneumonia and skin funguses.

A 2016 study conducted on rats found that lavender oil promoted wound healing in the early phase by accelerating the formation of granulation tissue (tissue from the healing surface of the skin) and promoting collagen synthesis. The area of wounds treated with lavender oil was significantly decreased compared to the control group.

Healthy Skin & Hair: Most likely due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics, lavender essential oil mixed with a carrier oil (like coconut, sunflower, or grapeseed oil) has profound benefits on your skin. Using lavender oil topically can help to improve a number of skin conditions, from canker sores to allergic reactions, acne and age spots. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help to ease skin conditions and reverse signs of aging.

Studies also show that lavender oil, along with other essential oils like thyme, rosemary and cedarwood, can significantly improve alopecia areata and hair loss when massaged into the scalp daily.

Improves Blood Circulation: Lavender essential oil is also good for improving the circulation of blood in the body. Researchers from the Department of Cardiovascular Science and Medicine, Chiba University in Japan suggests that aromatherapy using lavender oil has beneficial effects on coronary circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and is often used as a treatment for hypertension. This means that not only do the organs increase their levels of oxygenation, promoting muscle strength and health, but brain activity can have a noticeable boost, skin remains bright and flushed with blood, and the body is protected from the risks of heart attack and atherosclerosis often associated with poor blood circulation.

Early research shows that using an essential oil mixture of lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang as aromatherapy might reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) but not diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) in people with high blood pressure.

Induces Sleep: Because of lavender oil’s sedative and calming properties, it works to improve sleep and treat insomnia. A 2015 study involving 158 mothers in their postpartum period were divided into the control or intervention group. The intervention group inhaled lavender oil before bed four times a week for eight weeks. The women using lavender oil displayed a significant improvement in sleep quality when compared to the control group.

Early research shows that using lavender oil in a vaporizer overnight, or on a gauze pad left beside the bed, might help some people with mild insomnia sleep better.

A mixture of lavender oil, Roman chamomile essential oil and magnesium oil is the best combination for improving sleep. Just rub this mixture into the back of your neck and wrists to induce a calm, peaceful feeling.

Lice Deterrent: it has been shown to be very effective on lice, lice eggs, and nits.

Mouth Sores: Research shows that applying 2 drops of lavender oil to the affected area three times daily can reduce canker sore swelling and pain and shorten the time it takes for canker sores to heal.

Natural Perfume: Do you want to smell good without using toxic perfumes? Lavender oil is a great scent for both women and men. You can either try adding pure oil directly to your skin, or you can dilute oil in water or with a carrier oil for a more subtle scent.

If you’d like to rub the oil right onto your skin, try adding 2–3 drops into your palms and then rubbing your hands together. Then rub the oil directly onto your skin or hair. You can also try using 2 drops of lavender oil added to a spray bottle with about ½ cup of water. Shake up the spray bottle and then spray whatever you’d like.

Neuroprotective Effect: A study published in Brain Research (February 2014) showed that lavender oil has the potential to reduce brain edema and improve functional ability in people affected by cerebral ischemia. While lavender has traditionally been used in many cosmetic and therapeutic applications due to medicinal properties, this study confirms that lavender oil has potent neuroprotective properties. Furthermore, the oil helps increase antioxidant capacity in the body and inhibits oxidative stress.

Promotes Wound Healing: Lavender essential oil is an excellent essential oil to have on hand as it helps treat minor cuts, bruises, and burns. According to a 2016 study published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, the essential oil boosts the synthesis of collagen and heals skin tissues. Just rub a few drops of lavender essential oil on the bruised area or on burns to increase blood circulation and healing. It can also be used to soothe skin irritations, razor bumps, and sunburn.

Relieves Headaches: It’s one of the best essential oils for headaches because it induces relaxation and relieves tension. It works as a sedative, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and calming agent. According to a study published in European Neurology, people struggling with migraine headaches saw a significant reduction in pain when they inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes.

Relieves Pain: Lavender essential oil is known as an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore and tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache, and lumbago.

Several studies have found that lavender oil helps as a natural painkiller. Simply rubbing lavender into the area of concern can reduce inflammation and pain intensity, helping to alleviate the symptoms of many health conditions.

Another study, published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that a combination of lavender, marjoram, peppermint and black pepper essential oils improved neck pain when applied to the affected area daily.

And yet another recent study proved that lavender oil, when massaged into the skin, can help to relieve dysmenorrhea, which is associated with menstrual pain and cramping in the lower abdomen. The results of this study suggest that lavender oil can be used as a natural remedy for PMS and menstrual cramps.

Relieves Stress & Anxiety:  In 2013, an evidence-based study published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice found that supplementing with 80 milligram capsules of lavender essential oil alleviates anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression. Additionally, in the study there were no adverse side effects, drug interactions or withdrawal symptoms from using lavender oil.

The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology published a human study in 2014 that revealed that Silexan (otherwise known as lavender oil preparation) was more effective against generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) than placebos and the prescription medicine paroxetine. After treatment, the study found zero instances of withdrawal symptoms or adverse side effects.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): One study shows that massaging the legs with lavender oil for 10 minutes twice weekly can reduce the severity of restless legs syndrome in people with kidney failure who are undergoing dialysis.

Stimulates Urine Flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders because of its stimulating effect on urine production. Furthermore, it helps in restoring hormonal balance and reducing cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces associated cramps with these and other disorders.

Stomach Discomfort: Many people find the scent of lavender to be soothing to the stomach. If you are feeling nauseous or know that you are going to be traveling in a car of plane and are prone to motion sickness, spray some lavender oil on your skin and clothes, or rub it into your temples, next and palms.

Supports Brain Function: Research also shows that lavender oil serves as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease! Studies conducted on rats show that inhaling lavender essential oil vapor can help to prevent brain oxidative stress and improve cognitive impairment.

Also, in 2012, the Swiss journal Molecules printed the results of a study that shockingly proved that lavender oil is a viable treatment option for neurological dysfunctions such as stroke. Researchers believe that lavender’s neuroprotective effects are due to its antioxidant properties.

Treats Acne: Pure lavender essential oil inhibits the bacteria that cause the initial acne infection, helps to regulate the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal manipulation and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal. Adding a small amount of lavender essential oil to other skin creams or ointments can greatly increase the potential for relief and healing.

Treats Eczema: Premium organic lavender oil is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions. It is commonly used to speed up the healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns because it improves the formation of scar tissues. It is also added to chamomile to treat eczema.

Treats Respiratory Disorders: Lavender oil is widely used for various respiratory problems including throat infection, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. It can be put in in an aromatherapy essential oil diffuser or alternatively, it can be topically applied to the skin of neck, chest, and back. It is also added to many vaporizers and inhalers that are commonly used for cold and cough. The stimulating nature of lavender essential oil can also loosen up the phlegm and relieve congestion associated with respiratory conditions, thus speeding up the recovery process and helping the body naturally eliminate phlegm and other unwanted material. The vapor of lavender essential oil also has antibacterial qualities which can battle respiratory tract infections.

LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL SIDE EFFECTS & PRECAUTIONS

For most people, lavender oil benefits are all that you’ll experience and using lavender oil is completely safe; however, there has not been an extensive amount of scientific research done on lavender oil interactions with other medications, or for its use in pregnant women, so there are certain situations where you will want to use caution.

Medication Interactions: If you are already taking any prescription medication for sleep-related disorders or for depression, be cautious of the fact that lavender can increase the effectiveness of these medications. Even if you use an over-the-counter sleep aid or any type of sedatives (even cough or flu medicine), keep in mind that lavender makes many people sleepy and even somewhat drowsy, so it’s best to not combine lavender oil with other medications or sleep-related supplements. If you are planning on undergoing anesthesia in the near future, you will also want to avoid using lavender oil.

Pregnant Women: Lavender oil is generally considered safe for women who are pregnant and nursing. Because it can have a relaxing effect on muscles and can also affect hormone levels, use lavender with caution in your third trimester. It’s best to speak with your doctor about use of any essential oils when pregnant, since it has not been guaranteed that these are safe at this time.

Children: Lavender oil is considered generally safe for children to use, although there is some concern that lavender’s effect on hormone levels could be harmful for boys who have not yet gone through puberty. Although there isn’t strong evidence for lavender being a hormone disrupter (only 1–2 very small studies were ever completed), parents are told to use caution if using lavender oil frequently on young children.

Ingesting Lavender Oil: Studies have primarily looked at the effects of using lavender oil topically on the skin or through inhalation. There have been no negative symptoms found when three drops of oil are mixed with a carrier oil and applied directly to the skin. A 2013 evidence-based article, however, highlighted that lavender can be ingested at a large dose of 80 to 160 milligrams without adverse effects, except for minor gastrointestinal symptoms. To avoid gastrointestinal irritation, keep internal use to a minimum and be careful if you have a sensitive digestive system. There are no known food interactions of lavender oil at this time.

References:

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  23. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/740813/abs/
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Epsom Salt

Epsom salt (Magnesium sulfate)

Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt with the formula MgSO4(H2O). It is often encountered as the heptahydrate sulfate mineral epsomite (MgSO4·7H2O), commonly called Epsom salt. The overall global annual usage in the mid-1970s of the monohydrate was 2.3 million tons, of which the majority was used in agriculture. Epsom salt has been traditionally used as a component of bath salts. Epsom salt can also be used as a beauty product. Athletes use it to soothe sore muscles, while gardeners use it to improve crops. It has a variety of other uses: for example, Epsom salt is also effective in the removal of splinters.

Magnesium sulfate is a common mineral pharmaceutical preparation of magnesium, commonly known as Epsom salt, used both externally and internally. Magnesium sulfate is highly water-soluble and solubility is inhibited with lipids typically used in lotions. Lotions often employ the use of emulsions or suspensions to include both oil and water-soluble ingredients. Hence, magnesium sulfate in a lotion may not be as freely available to migrate to the skin nor to be absorbed through the skin, hence both studies may properly suggest absorption or lack thereof as a function of the carrier (in a water solution vs. in an oil emulsion/suspension). Temperature and concentration gradients may also be contributing factors to absorption.

The magnesium contained in Epsom salt is a mineral that is crucial to the human body’s functioning. Some of the key roles of magnesium include keeping blood pressure normal, heart rhythm steady and bones strong. Sulfate is an essential mineral key to many biological processes, helping flush toxins; cleanse the liver; and assisting in the formation of proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins. Recent studies have shown that Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) can even be used intravenously for the treatment of asthma and pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) in pregnant women.

Epsom salt is used as bath salts and for isolation tanks. Magnesium sulfate is the main preparation of intravenous magnesium.

Internal uses include:

  • Oral magnesium sulfate is commonly used as a saline laxative or osmotic purgative.
  • Replacement therapy for hypomagnesemia
  • Magnesium sulfate is an antiarrhythmic agent for torsades de pointes in cardiac arrest under the ECC guidelines and for managing quinidine-induced arrhythmias.
  • As a bronchodilator after beta-agonist and anticholinergic agents have been tried, e.g. in severe exacerbations of asthma, magnesium sulfate can be nebulized to reduce the symptoms of acute asthma. It is commonly administered via the intravenous route for the management of severe asthma attacks.
  • Magnesium sulfate is effective in decreasing the risk that pre-eclampsia progresses to eclampsia. IV magnesium sulfate is used to prevent and treat seizures of eclampsia. It reduces the systolic blood pressure but doesn’t alter the diastolic blood pressure, so the blood perfusion to the fetus isn’t compromised. It is also commonly used for eclampsia where compared to diazepam or phenytoin it results in better outcomes

People use Epsom salt baths as a home treatment for:

  • Arthritis pain and swelling
  • Bruises and sprains
  • Fibromyalgia, a condition that makes your muscles, ligaments, and tendons hurt, and causes tender points throughout your body
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis, a disease that causes red, itchy, scaly skin
  • Sore muscles after working out
  • Soreness from diarrhea during chemotherapy
  • Sunburn pain and redness
  • Tired, swollen feet

Benefits of Epsom Salt

There is a laundry list of ways to use Epsom salt in your daily life. Here are some of the top benefits of Epsom salt:

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Boosts Magnesium Levels: Appropriate levels of magnesium are absolutely key to good health, and it is very common to have a magnesium deficiency. Known as hypomagnesemia, low magnesium levels can be caused by alcoholism, severe diarrhea, malnutrition or high calcium levels (hypercalcemia). By simply soaking your feet or entire body in a bath containing Epsom salt, internal levels of magnesium can be increased naturally without taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium regulates over 300 enzymes in the body and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, including muscle control, energy production, electrical impulses and the elimination of harmful toxins. Magnesium deficiencies contribute to today’s high rates of heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive disorders as well as mental illness. By boosting your internal magnesium levels through external use of Epsom salt, you can help improve or ward off many avoidable health ailments.

Reduces Stress: Everyone has heard of the recommendation to have a good soak in a warm bath after a rough day (whether mentally or physically rough) — it’s a great way to bust stress.  If you want to amplify the stress-reducing benefits of a nice, long soak, then add a cup or two of Epsom salt to your bathwater. Not only will the magnesium in the Epsom salt help to relax your muscles, it can also help to relax your mind. According to research from the University of North Carolina, magnesium deficiency enhances stress reactions. Further studies show that magnesium has a profound effect on stress and neural excitability — and magnesium salts such as Epsom salt can reduce stress and improve neuropsychiatric disorders. Magnesium is critical to the production of energy in cells so, by increasing magnesium levels, you can feel revived without feeling restless (as opposed to how people feel revived from caffeine consumption).

Eliminates Toxins: The sulfates in Epsom salt assist the body in flushing out toxins and providing a heavy metal detox from the body’s cells, hence lowering the internal accumulation of harmful substances. Human skin is a highly porous membrane; by adding minerals like magnesium and sulfate to your bathwater, it sparks a process called reverse osmosis, which literally pulls salt out of your body and dangerous toxins along with it. For a detoxing bath, add at least two cups of Epsom salt to bathwater and soak for 40 minutes total. The first 20 minutes will give your body time to remove toxins from your system while the last 20 minutes will allow you to absorb the minerals in the water and help you emerge from the bath feeling rejuvenated. Make sure to consume water before, during and after the bath to protect yourself from dehydration and increase detoxification.

Relieves Constipation: Epsom salt is an FDA-approved laxative and is commonly used to naturally relieve constipation. When taken internally, Epsom salt acts like a laxative by increasing water in the intestines and cleansing the colon of waste. A roundup of studies published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology notes that there is strong evidence that Epsom salt “has potent laxative effect in vitro through the release of digestive hormones and neurotransmitters.” Internal use of Epsom salt can bring about temporary relief from constipation, but like any laxative, it is not meant to be a long-term solution or a substitute for a healthy high-fiber diet. If a laxative solution is a must, it’s smart to avoid many of the harsh laxatives on the market today, which are commonly loaded with artificial colors and flavors and questionable chemicals. To take magnesium sulfate orally, it’s typically suggested to dissolve one dose in eight ounces of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. You may add a small amount of lemon juice to improve the taste. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids while consuming Epsom salt to prevent dehydration. Magnesium sulfate taken orally should produce a bowel movement within 30 minutes to six hours. Adults are usually advised to take 2–6 teaspoons (10–30 ml) of Epsom salt at a time, dissolved in at least 8 ounces (237 ml) of water and consumed immediately. You can expect it to have a laxative effect in 30 minutes to six hours.

Reduces Pain & Inflammation: A warm bath containing Epsom salt is known to ease pain and relieve the inflammation at the root of most diseases, making it a beneficial natural treatment for bronchial asthma, sore muscles and headaches (including migraines). Epsom salt can also help heal cuts and reduce the swelling that accompanies sprains and bruises. Have an annoying and painful splinter stuck in your hand? Soak the problem area in warm water and Epsom salt, and the splinter should be drawn out of the skin in no time! Soreness after childbirth? Epsom salt can help with that, too. In general, healthy magnesium levels from Epsom salt use can help overall bodily inflammation since low magnesium has been linked with higher C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body.

Improves Blood Sugar Levels: Healthy magnesium levels have been linked with a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Epsom salt is an excellent source of magnesium. Both magnesium and sulfate help improve the body’s ability to produce and utilize insulin. Regular intake of Epsom salts, either orally or transdermally, can help to regulate blood sugar, lowering the risk of diabetes and improving daily energy levels. Studies continue to show how a healthy intake of magnesium is associated with a lower risk of the development of type 2 diabetes in both men and women, proving Epsom salts work as natural diabetes remedies.

Promotes Sleep: Adequate magnesium levels are essential for sleep and stress management, likely because magnesium helps the brain produce neurotransmitters that induce sleep and reduce stress. Magnesium may also help the body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Low magnesium levels may negatively affect sleep quality and stress. Many report that taking Epsom salt baths can reverse these issues by allowing the body to absorb magnesium through the skin.

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Volumizes Hair: Adding Epsom salt to hair products can help decrease excess oil, which contributes to hair looking flat and weighed down. One easy way to create your own volumizing conditioner at home is to combine equal parts Epsom salt and conditioner (example: two tablespoons conditioner + two tablespoons Epsom salt). After shampooing hair as usual, apply the volumizing conditioner mix to hair, coating it from the scalp to the ends. Leave the mix in for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing. This is a great weekly hair treatment.

For Skin Care: Epsom salt may be used as a beauty product for skin and hair. To use it as an exfoliant, just place some in your hand, dampen it and massage it into your skin. Some people claim it’s a useful addition to facial wash, since it may help cleanse pores. Just a 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) will do the trick. Simply combine it with your own cleansing cream and massage onto the skin.

Soften callused feet. If your feet are feeling a little rough around the edges, try this simple at-home softening treatment: Pour ½ cup of Epsom salt into a tub of warm water and soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes. “It will soften the skin,” says Bhatia. You can then take a handful of Epsom salt, dampen it, and massage it on your feet to slough off dead, callused skin.

De-flake lips. Cold weather and even just repeatedly licking your lips year-round can leave you with a parched, flakey pucker. For smoother, healthier-looking lips, mix a few tablespoons of Epsom salt with a teaspoon of petroleum jelly, gently massage the mixture onto your lips, and then wipe off.

Soothe a sunburn. If you miss a spot with your trusty sunscreen and end up with an angry red mark, try this trick for easing a sunburn: Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in 1 cup of water in a spray bottle, and then spray the mixture on the sunburn to help reduce irritation.

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Gallbladder Flush. The gallbladder is not as well-understood or talked about as our other organs, but an optimally functioning gallbladder is something we all should strive for when it comes to our health. Some of the warning signs that you may have a gallbladder problem include gallbladder pain, poor fat digestion, rosacea of skin and leaky gut syndrome. Epsom salt can be utilized in a gallbladder and liver flush recipe.

Headache Relief. There is quite a bit of evidence that magnesium may help headaches and even migraines when used regularly. Some sources even think that magnesium deficiency may increase the chance of headaches. I’ve noticed that when I consume magnesium or use it transdermally, I also don’t seem to get headaches. And my husband swears that the best hangover cure is a long swim in the ocean, which is much higher in magnesium than lakes or swimming pools. What to do: Use any of the methods to get more magnesium. I also find that magnesium spray and magnesium lotion are especially helpful for headache relief.

Epsom salt has a long history of use in the garden as well. For more robust vegetables, you can try adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil underneath a plant to boost growth. Epsom salt is also great for indoor gardening. For potted plants, simply dissolve two tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water, and substitute this solution for normal watering once a month.

Looking to get rid of slugs from your walkways and patios without using chemicals? Sprinkle some Epsom salt to keep them away!

For itchy skin, bug bites or sunburn, you can dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salt in a half cup of cool water in a spray bottle and spritz on skin as needed.

Epsom salt can also be used for household cleaning. To clean tile and grout, mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and Epsom salt and apply this mixture to dirty and/or stained surfaces anywhere in your home. Allow the mixture to soak in for a couple of minutes, scrub away the loosened filth and rinse clean.

Epsom salt helps draw the moisture out of lesions caused by rashes, such as poison ivy, according to the doctors. And with bites or stings, Epsom salt reduces the swelling, which eases the itching sensation because the body’s nerves fire less frequently, the doctors say.

Healthy House Plants. House plants are great for cleaning indoor air and we love to keep them around. Just like garden plants, house plants love a magnesium boost once in a while. Add some Epsom salt as part of a regular watering or fertilizing routine for more robust house plants. What to do: Sprinkle a little Epsom salt on the soil in a house plant container or add a little Epsom salt to the water when watering. A tablespoon is usually plenty for a month or two.

Scour Pans. Scrubbing pans with a quarter tablespoon of salt and warm water should get them clean and gleaming.

Regenerate Your Car Battery. The mother of all Epsom salt uses! Make a paste by dissolving about an ounce of salt into warm water, and then spread onto each battery post.

Clean Your Washing Machine. Fill your washing machine with hot water, add the salt and run an agitate-soak-agitate cycle.

Get Rid of Toenail Fungus. Soak feet three times a day in warm water with a handful of Epsom salts dissolved into it.

Remove Hairspray. Combine one gallon of water, one cup of lemon juice and one cup of Epsom salt. Cover the mixture and let set for 24 hours. Apply to dry hair and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing for squeaky clean strands.

Make a Mask. If you’ve got oily skin, mix one tablespoon of cognac, one egg, a quarter cup of non-fat dry milk, the juice of one lemon and a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt. Apply to damp skin and leave on for 20 minutes.

Soften Fabrics. Mix four cups of Epsom salt with 20 drops of essential oil for homemade fabric softener crystals. Use a quarter cup per wash and add at beginning of each load.

Remove Blackheads. Mix a teaspoon of Epsom salt, three drops iodine and half a cup of boiling water. Dab the solution onto blackheads, allow to dry and rinse with warm water.

Remove Tree Stumps. Drill holes into the tree stump, fill each hole with Epsom salt and then add water to each hole. In a few weeks, the stump should begin to decay.

Health Uses of Epsom Salt

Doctors cite many health benefits from either soaking your feet or taking a bath in Epsom salt, including: soothing muscle pain and aches, providing itch relief from sunburn and poison ivy, removing splinters, decreasing swelling and boosting your body’s levels of magnesium and sulfate. Here are some natural recipes for different at-home remedies and uses of Epsom salt:

What to do for sore muscles, aches, pains, bruises and splinter removal – In each case, experts say taking an Epsom salt is a natural, at-home remedy. Here’s what you do:

  • Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to the water in a standard-sized bathtub (double the Epsom salt for an oversized garden tub). Soak for at least 12 minutes. The Epsom salt will dissolve quicker if you put it under the running water. Note: For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.
  • MAKE COMPRESS – Soak a cotton washcloth in cold water that has been mixed with Epsom salt (2 tablespoons per cup)
  • CREATE A PASTE TO APPLY TO THE SKIN – Adding a teaspoon of Epsom salt to about a cup of hot water until it dissolves. Chill the solution in the fridge for 20 minutes. Note: Clean the skin and pat dry before applying the paste.
  • SOAKING ACHING FEET IN AN EPSOM SALT FOOT BATH – Create an Epsom Salt bath by pouring 1 cup into a tub of warm water.

Epsom Salt Detox

Magnesium absorption is the biggest benefit of an Epsom salt bath. There need to be more studies to confirm that your body can absorb magnesium across the skin. One 2004 study looked at 19 participants and found increased levels of magnesium and sulfate in the blood after the baths.

BenefitsMethodHow it works
softer skin20-minute bath soakmay soften skin, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the skin barrier to keep skin hydrated
muscle soreness and pain12-minute bath soakreduce inflammation, muscle aches, and tension; there’s moderate evidence that magnesium can reduce muscle cramps
relaxation and anti-stress1-hour bath soakcan help relieve stress (magnesium deficiency may induce anxiety, depression, and stress)
laxative20-minute soak or oral ingestion: 10 to 30 grams for adults; 5 to 10 grams for children 6 years old and above (talk to your doctor if you have an infant under 6 years)leads to bowel movement 30 minutes to 6 hours after dose
ingrown toenails12-minute foot soakreduces inflammation and pain
splintersEpsom salt pastecan help draw out tiny splinters
magnesium balance12 to 20-minute soakmight restore magnesium (this may benefit people who are at risk for low levels, including those with fibromyalgia)

Safety and Side Effects of Epsom Salt

While Epsom salt is generally safe, there are a few negative effects that can occur if you use it incorrectly. This is mostly a concern if you take it by mouth. First of all, the magnesium sulfate in it can have a laxative effect. Consuming it may result in diarrhea, bloating or upset stomach. If you use it as a laxative, make sure to drink plenty of water, which may reduce digestive discomfort. Furthermore, never take more than the recommended dosage without consulting your doctor first. Some cases of magnesium overdose have been reported in which people took too much Epsom salt. Symptoms of this include nausea, headache, lightheadedness and flushed skin. In extreme cases, magnesium overdose can lead to heart problems, coma, paralysis and death. This is unlikely as long as you take it in appropriate amounts as recommended by your doctor or listed on the package.

Why do we need magnesium?  (WellnessMama.com)

Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and impacts blood pressure, metabolism, immune function and many other aspects of health. Some experts claim that magnesium deficiency is the single largest health problem in our world today. There are many reasons that deficiency is so widespread in modern times (even though it wasn’t in the past). Depleted soil conditions mean that plants (and meat from animals that feed on these plants) are lower in magnesium. Use of chemicals like fluoride and chlorine in the water supply make magnesium less available in water since these chemicals can bind to magnesium. Common substances that many of us consume daily, like caffeine and sugar, also deplete the body’s magnesium levels. So does stress. In other words, the lucky (but small) percentage of the population that lives near the ocean (a good source of magnesium) and eats foods grown in magnesium rich soil, drinks magnesium rich water, and doesn’t suffer from stress or consume sugar or caffeine might be ok… but the rest of us might need some additional magnesium.

Magnesium Deficiency Leads To:

Calcification of the Arteries – Though this is not (hopefully) the first symptom of magnesium deficiency, it can be one of the most dangerous. Calcification of arteries from low magnesium levels can lead to coronary problems like heart attack and heart disease. In fact, half of all heart attack patients receive injections of magnesium chloride to help stop the blood clotting and calcification.

Muscle Spasms and Cramps – Just as calcification causes stiffening of the arteries, it can cause stiffening of muscle tissue as well, leading to cramps and spasms. I had horrible leg cramps during one of my pregnancies. Potassium didn’t help at all, but magnesium fixed the problem almost instantly (which makes sense in light of the sodium:potassium pump).

Anxiety & Depression – There is a lot of research showing that magnesium deficiency can have a tremendous impact on mental health. Psychology Today explains one possible reason: Magnesium hangs out in the synapse between two neurons along with calcium and glutamate. If you recall, calcium and glutamate are excitatory, and in excess, toxic (link is external). They activate the NMDA receptor. Magnesium can sit on the NMDA receptor without activating it, like a guard at the gate. Therefore, if we are deficient in magnesium, there’s no guard. Calcium and glutamate can activate the receptor like there is no tomorrow. In the long term, this damages the neurons, eventually leading to cell death. In the brain, that is not an easy situation to reverse or remedy.

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension – This is perhaps one of the most well-studied areas of magnesium deficiency. A Harvard study of over 70,000 people found that those with the highest magnesium intake had the healthiest blood pressure numbers. A follow up meta-analysis of available studies showed a dose-dependent reduction of blood pressure with magnesium supplementation. A University of Minnesota study showed that the risk for hypertension was 70% lower in women with adequate/high magnesium levels.

Hormone Problems – I personally saw the effects of low magnesium in my hormone levels. The higher the estrogen or progesterone levels in a woman’s body, the lower the magnesium (pregnancy anyone?) This is also part of the reason why pregnant women experience more leg cramps and women notice more of these muscular type complaints and PMS in the second half of their cycles when progesterone/estrogen are higher and magnesium is depleted. Chocolate is a decent source of magnesium, and there is speculation that cravings for chocolate may be a sign of magnesium deficiency. Muscle cramps related to the menstrual cycle can also be related to magnesium levels. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the Magnesium Miracle, often recommends that women with bad PMS and cramps take magnesium early in their cycles before the symptoms begin.

Pregnancy Complaints – Related to the hormone problems above, magnesium levels can drastically affect pregnancy health and mood. I noticed this when my morning sickness was tremendously less in my pregnancy when I supplemented with transdermal magnesium. Magnesium is also often used to help with pregnancy related hypertension and muscle cramps, to help ward off preterm labor and to alleviate headaches.

Sleep Problems – With all of the above symptoms of deficiency, it makes sense that magnesium would have a drastic impact on sleep, but the impact is often immediately noticeable when a person starts taking magnesium. Dr. Mark Hyman calls it the ultimate relaxation mineral. Magnesium helps relax the body and the mind, which both contribute to restful sleep. Additionally, magnesium is needed for proper function of the GABA receptors in the brain, and GABA is the neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a restful state.

Low Energy – Magnesium is required in the reactions that create ATP energy in the cells. Let’s flash back to freshman biology for a minute. ATP or adenosine triphosphate, is the main source of energy in the cells and it must bind to a magnesium ion in order to be active. In other words, without magnesium, you literally won’t have energy on a cellular level. This shows up as fatigue, low-energy, lack of drive and other problems.

Bone Health – Calcium is always considered the most important mineral for bone health, but it turns out that magnesium is just as important (or even more so!) In cases of magnesium deficiency, the bones suffer in multiple ways:

Vitamin D Absorption: Magnesium is needed for Vitamin D to turn on calcium absorption- this is why it is also important to get enough magnesium when taking Vitamin D (or magnesium levels can become even more depleted)

Proper Calcium Use: Magnesium is needed to stimulate the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of the muscles and soft tissues and into the bones. This helps explain why magnesium helps lower the risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, arthritis and kidney stones.

Other Mineral Deficiencies – Many vitamins and minerals work synergistically, and magnesium is a work horse on this list. It is needed for proper utilization of calcium, potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin D and many other nutrients. By using magnesium externally, or transdermally (meaning “across the skin”) the body can absorb what is needed without absorbing to much. It is similar to soaking in an Epsom salt bath or in the ocean.

Recipes

Homemade Healing Bath Salts

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups Epsom salts
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • Water to fill bath (as hot as you can stand without burning yourself)
  • 40 drops lavender essential oil (or use 20 drops lavender essential oil and 20 drops juniper berry essential oil)
  • Large glass jar

Directions:

  • Combine dry ingredients and store in a closed container
  • At bath time, add 1 cup of dry ingredients and the essential oil to the water
  • Soak for 20–40 minutes (the longer the better)

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