Epsom salt is the common name for Magnesium Sulfate, a naturally-occuring chemical compound composed of magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. It is a magnesium-based salt rather than a typical sodium-based salt. Magnesium is an essential element in the body necessary for hundreds of bodily functions that benefit the heart and nervous system. When dissolved in water it releases magnesium and sulfate atoms. It gets its name from the small town in England where it was discovered in the early 17th century when a cowherd named Henry Wicker came across a spring that his cows refused to drink from. According to the story, Wicker noticed that the wounds on the cows that waded through the water healed faster. From this, Epsom became a “spa” destination for people all around England who traveled there for the health benefits. Its most common use has remained the same to the day; bath soaks. For centuries, people have dissolved epsom salts into bathwater to relieve soreness and aches. Epsom soaks can also help promote restful sleep, reduce skin irritation and ease pain.
Epsom salts are commonly used by athletes to promote muscle recovery and to relieve body aches. They are used most popularly to combat muscle soreness, body fatigue and stress. They can also be used in cosmetics; in face washes to exfoliate and firm the skin, as a salt spray for hair texture, to boost hair volume, and in lotions to provide relief from sunburns. They also have a number of household uses, like promoting plant growth and even cleaning tiles!