Alternative Therapies

How Epsom Salts help to Reduce Swelling

Judith C Evans's image for:
"How Epsom Salts help to Reduce Swelling"
Image by: 

Long before our grandmothers wisely reached for Epsom salts, the ancient Greeks and Romans turned to this remedy.   Also known as magnesium sulfate, Epsom salts have a wide range of medicinal properties, including the ability to reduce swelling and flush out toxins. Its emollient and sedative properties make it an excellent skin softener and stress reducer.  These properties provide effective, soothing treatment for swelling of all kinds, including bruises and insect bites.       

Our modern diet does not provide adequate amounts of magnesium and sulfates.  These minerals aid in the absorption of calcium, flush out heavy metals, relieve muscle inflammation, and help to regulate over 300 enzymes.  As certain foods and drugs can interfere with digestive tract absorption, magnesium sulfate is best absorbed through the skin, such as in a warm bath or foot soak.

For a bruise or sprain, your first remedy should be an ice pack.  Do not apply ice directly to your skin; wrap the ice in a cloth and apply to injured area for 10 minutes.  Remove the ice pack for a 10 minute break, and keep applying and removing ice pack at 10 minute intervals.   Do not apply heat or soak in a warm bath until after the immediate injury begins to heal.  

Once you are ready to soak the injury, add 2 cups of Epsom salts to warm bath water.  If you prefer, you can soak a sprained ankle by adding just 2 handfuls of Epsom salts to a basin of hot water.  The salt crystals will thoroughly dissolve.  For an even more relaxing soak, add a few drops of lavender or rosemary oil.  The minerals in the Epsom salts will relieve swelling and inflammation, and the fragrant oils will calm and rejuvenate you.  For a more portable treatment, try soaking a cloth in hot Epsom salt water; wring out the cloth and wrap it around the swollen area. 

Annie Berthold-Bond, executive director of, recommends Epsom salts for the treatment of swollen insect bites. First, remove any stinger from the bite.  Apply a paste made from Epsom salts mixed with a small amount of water.  Soak a cloth in water as hot as you can stand, and wrap the cloth around the bite.  As the cloth cools, apply more hot water.  After 10 minutes, remove the cloth; reapply paste and cloth every hour.

These treatments for swelling are just a sample of the many benefits of Epsom salts.  Listen to the wisdom of “old wives’ tales”; our grandmothers were right about this inexpensive remedy.


Berthold-Bond, Annie.  13 Wonderful Ways to Use Epsom Salts, (accessed March 23, 2010).  

Epsom Salt Council.  Why it Works, (accessed March 23, 2010).

Mountain Rose Herbs. Epsom Salt, (accessed March 23, 2010).

Steckel, M.  Ice, Heat, and Epsom Salts, (accessed March 23, 2010).

US Gyms.  The Magic of Epsom Salts, (accessed March 23, 2010).

More about this author: Judith C Evans

From Around the Web