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Biology, chemistry, Sport

Epsom salt baths

I went for a massage a few days ago. I thought I would try a different therapist since my regular one is a fair drive from home. Unfortunately, she lost her street cred pretty quickly and I’ll be heading back to my normal massage in the middle of nowhere. She said that I needed to take an Epsom salt bath when I got home because the salt would penetrate my muscles and detoxify them. What’s wrong with this you might ask, it is after all fairly common advice.

Well, I know enough biology and chemistry to be pretty suspicious when someone throws detoxify around casually, it’s trendy but very rarely valid. In addition, there aren’t a lot of substances that we can actually absorb through our skin, another red flag. So I tried to find an academic research paper on the topic and I found nothing. This is rare to say the least and was another indication that Epsom salts may not be what they’re cracked up to be.

So I set out to debunk the idea, but in the process I found someone else’s well researched debunking. If you want the short version here it is: Epsom salt doesn’t have an effect on muscle pain (the hot bath does though). They do make your skin feel nice though. If you want the long version, check it out on the Pain Science website. Happy reading!


About Peyto

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities. Peyto is a reference to Bill Peyto who was an outfitter, trapper, and eventually a park warden in Banff National Park. Peyto Lake and Peyto Glacier are both named after him. He is also a distant relative of mine.


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