Bath salts are well know to relax and revive weary bodies and minds, but what kind of bath salt should you use and why? People have enjoyed the benefits of healing waters for many thousands of years. The Romans built great cities upon natural springs including the aptly named Bath in England. Natural springs can be found across the globe in places such as the United States, South America, Iceland, Italy and Greece, Eastern Europe, China, Taiwan and Japan. In all of these countries, the waters have been revered for their restorative powers and for good reason. The natural waters are rich in many key minerals that play important roles in maintaining a healthy body. The most significant of which for those of us who train hard and want to recover well is magnesium. In this blog I introduce four popular, magnesium rich, natural salts that can be used to help you revive and recover after your workouts.
Epsom salt does indeed come from Epsom in Surrey, England, but it is not strictly a salt. It is pure Magnesium Sulphate and for this reason is not for eating but it makes an incredible bath salt. Being pure Magnesium Sulphate, Epsom salt delivers a large amount of magnesium and sulphate which are readily absorbed by your skin. Magnesium helps cramp, muscle spasms and the feeling of fatigue because it actively competes for the excess Calcium ions that cause these symptoms. Calcium ions are thrown off from muscle contractions and can increase the discomfort felt after exercise and competition especially when magnesium is not readily available. Epsom Salts are one of the best ways to deliver this magnesium and the warmth and relaxation of a bath all contribute to physical, mental and nervous system relaxation. Epsom salts will have a mild detoxification effect and may help dry skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Dead Sea Salt comes from the Dead Sea near Jordan, Jerusalem and Israel. The sea there has ten times the salt concentration of normal sea water and its healing properties have been revered for millennia. A source of Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium and bromides, Dead Sea salt has less magnesium than other salts, but the additional minerals are what give it its skin healing properties. Recommended for recovery and relaxation, but particularly recommended for sore and itchy skin, acne, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. This is also a good choice if you know that you have low calcium or potassium levels.
From the base of the Himalayas, this salt is over 250 million years old and contains 84 important minerals. For this reason, it is an excellent detoxifier of skin and body and makes for a good regular all round bath salt. It contains the lowest levels of magnesium so is not the best for immediate athletic recovery, but is still a supremely healthy addition to your routine. This would be a good choice for anyone with a number of mineral deficiencies and can be used on a frequent, regular basis.
Filtered from 250 million year old sea salt deposits, almost pure Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate flakes are said to be the most readily absorbed form of magnesium. Similar to Epsom salts, this is not a salt and certainly not suitable for eating. It can be great for people experiencing restlessness, anxiety, poor sleep or symptoms of depression. There is some suggestion that this kind of bath salt may have a longer lasting effect than Epsom salts, but at two to three times the price of all the other salts, I think you are better off going for Epsom salts.
In summary, taking a relaxing bath with natural salts is incredibly relaxing and each of the bath salts I have discussed here offer good health benefits. Himalayan and Dead Sea salts are most suited to people with certain skin conditions or a broad mineral deficiency, but they lack the magnesium power of Epsom Salts or Magnesium Flakes. The science suggests that pure Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate flakes should be superior to magnesium rich Epsom salts, but in my experience, Epsom Salts appeared to give me the best feeling of recovery when I compared them after the same intensive workouts.
Give these wonderful bath salts a go and let me know what you think. Tell me in the comments section below if you have any favourite recovery rituals that work for you.
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