Ever wondered 'how' Epsom Salt works ?
BLANTs Wellbeing & Lifestyle

Ever wondered 'how' Epsom Salt assists the body ?

Happy reading !

How Epsom Salt Can Benefit You
How It Works

In this article we discuss how Epsom Salt can benefit you.
We also discuss Epsom Salt & Autism.
However, much of the info on Autism applies to other disorders also and even to those of us not affected, so it’s certainly worth a read!
  • Flush toxins from the body
  • Improves sleep and concentration *
  • Relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Helps joint proteins, bone tissue and mucus proteins.*
  • Helps muscles and nerves function properly *
  • Eases stress
  • Improves absorption of nutrients
  • Regulates activity of 325 + enzymes
  • Make insulin more effective
  • Reduce inflammation to Improve oxygen use
  • Helps prevent artery hardening and blood clots
  • Helps relieve or ease migraine headaches
Sufficient Sulfur is essential to detox the body of toxins and waste. Low levels may lead to a 'backlog' of toxins, which in turn can affect our central nervous system. Most sulfur supplements are difficult for the body to absorb and therefore have minimal effect. However, Epsom Salt provides sulphates in a readily absorbable form to help the body rid itself of waste products and toxins by making them water soluble and therefore easily excreted. 


Magnesium helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes, and performs a vital role in many bodily functions, from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins. It improves nerve function by regulating electrolytes and is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood elevating chemical within the brains that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.  


As magnesium and sulfates are absorbed through the skin they intensify the biological process of detoxification and calm the nervous system. Many people find they have a very relaxed sleep as a result.

Some people who desire the wonderful therapeutic benefits from bathing in Epsom Salt but have a pre-existing skin conditions have reported Epsom Salt can make the skin feel too dry. Adding just a table-spoon of either olive or essential oil to the bath gives a wonderful silky, smooth feeling to the skin.
Epsom Salt and Autism
The PST sulfation pathway is necessary for the breakdown and removal of certain toxins in the body. This includes the processing of a type of chemical called a phenol. Phenols are a regular and necessary part of life.

All foods contain some phenolic compounds. However, some foods have a much higher content than others do. If the sulfation pathway is not functioning well, as with many children with autism, a person may not be able to process out the phenolic compounds as fast as they consume them. There is a cumulative effect.  When the phenols start backing up in the system, it can cause a myriad of negative reactions. Symptoms of phenol intolerance include night waking, night sweats, irritability, eczema and other skin irritations. The symptoms of phenol intolerance and yeast may be very similar because they both involve the body trying to deal with toxins. The detoxification pathway processes other phenolic compounds including salicylates (a subset of phenols), artificial food colorings, artificial flavorings, and some preservatives. Besides requiring PST, research has found the salicylates further suppress the activity of any PST enzyme present, making matters worse. Food dyes also have been shown to inhibit the PST enzyme.

Epsom Salt supplies readily absorbable sulfates which attach to phenols and sets them up for being excreted via the kidneys.

The role of sulphation may well be one of the pivotal factors in the causation of autism, yet it is  poorly understood and has received scant attention. The role of sulphates in the immune system, in the effectiveness of hormones and in maintaining the integrity of intestinal function, kidney function and detoxification system is deserving of much greater attention than it currently receives.  

Owens (1998) has drawn the attention to the importance of sulphation issues in chemical bodies called GAGs (Glucosyl Acetyl Glucosamines) which have huge implications for many functions including brain development. Processes involving inflammation, such as that which would result from infections that may be acquired naturally or from introduction through vaccine programmes, will result in stripping of the sulphate containing GAGs from the intestinal wall.

Owens has suggested that these GAGs will form the main reservoir of sulphates held in the body. Therefore, any lingering inflammatory process will result in sulphate depletion. Waring (2000b) has also presented data indicating that the conversion of sulphite to sulphate is severely inhibited after immunisation of adult students against hepatitis B.

Sulphate ions are poorly absorbed from foodstuffs but may well be better absorbed through the skin. That is the rationale for the use of Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulphate) in the bathwater of children with autism. (Taken from The Sunderland Protocol - a paper presented at the Durham Conference 2000).

Sulphur is so critical to life that the body will apparently borrow protein from the muscles to keep from running to low. Many systems in the body will not function well in a low-sulphate environment. One of the things it influences is the hormone that helps humans recognize faces and " socialize ". Increasing sulphur in the body can improve socialization and related issues.

If growth factors were bankers, sulphate would be their money. Growth factors use sulphate to do their business. That is why it is known that if you become VERY deficient in sulphate you will stop growing if you are a child, or you will start to break down (catabolize) your own muscle to make up for this deficiency. That means if your child has not been growing, and has very flimsy muscles, you should be concerned that their sulphate chemistry may be hurting. When this happens in very sick adults, it puts them into a state called cachexia, a wasting process that happens in Alzheimers disease, Aids, Cancer, and an autism spectrum disorder called Rett Syndrome.

Dr Rosemary Waring, a biochemist researching the sulphate levels in autistic children, found that most people with autism conditions have a deficiency in a key detoxification pathway. The pathway involves using sulfur in the form of sulfate (known as sulfation). The enzyme involved is phenol sulfur-transferase (PST), but the problem is thought to hinge on an inadequate supply of usable sulfate ions, not the metabolic enzyme itself. Dr Waring has found that most autistic spectrum kids, and lots of others with neurological conditions, are very low in sulphate and excrete higher levels of sulphate in urine.  They may be as low as 15% of neurologically typical people. People with low or no ability to convert compounds to sulfate have problems handling environmental chemicals including food colours, artificial flavoring, and preservatives, some medications, and even some chemicals produced within the body. They include people with other conditions such as Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and chemical sensitivities.

Once the process had started it would continue on a slow, but steady, downward spiral. Sulphates in the blood help rid the body of waste products by making them water soluble and therefore easily excreted. Low levels of sulphate may lead to retention of toxins as the body may have more toxins to process than it can because of a lack of sulphur, which in turn may lead to bio-chemical effects on the central nervous system.


Epsom Salt can provide essential sulphate in a readily absorbable form to unclog this " bottleneck " by supplying more sulphur to increase the amount of toxins that can be processed from the body. As the body takes in more sulphur, more toxins are processed.

Sulphates & the Gut
Sulphation capacity affects the gastro-intestinal tract. The mucins which line the gut are sulphated glycoproteins which rely on sulphation to maintain their structure. The PST enzyme ensures that your mucous membranes are coated with a slimy surface to protect them and make them resilient (membranes of the gut, nose, ears etc.)

Reduced sulphation has been associated with inflammation, gut dysfunction, and increased permeability. Sulphates help to hydrolate (surround toxins with extra water molecules) toxins out of your body. If the body builds up with toxins the gut can become permeable to indigested peptides from gluten and casein (milk products), which then travel to the brain looking like pseudo neurotransmitters, but actually acting as opiods.

Researchers have noted that dairy and gluten digestion difficulties would be expected in people with low sulfation, lending credence to the gluten-free/casein-free diet approach for these individuals.

In autism the balance of gastro-intestinal hormones seems to be altered, possibly due to the interaction between sulphation and digestive peptide hormones. Gastrin is active when sulphated, and so is cholecystokinin (CCK), a peptide active in both the gut and the brain. The secretion of CCK, liberated by gastrin, releases another hormone - secretin, which stimulates the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. This essential cascade process can be blocked at any stage, resulting in reduced levels of secretin, and therefore, a blocking of the essential pancreatic enzymes.

The blockage may very well be averted if sufficient sulphates are available. Epsom Salts can provide those needed sulphates.
How much do I use?
With small children it is recommended to start with half a cup per bath and increase by half a cup each subsequent bath until 2-4 cups per bath is achieved. 
The quantity of salts and frequency of baths varies depending on the size of the bathtub, bather, etc. Some use 3 cups per bath every day! The most common protocol is 2 cups per bath, 3-4 days per week, soaking for 20 - 30 min in a warm to hot bath. Epsom Salt is readably soluble in water, simply stir it in. 

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