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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever changing landscape of health news.Every Thursday at 5:42 a.m., 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs provides health information you can trust. With trustworthy sources, she explores the fact and fiction surrounding various medical conditions and treatments, makes you aware of upcoming screenings, gives you prevention strategies and more…all to your health.Local support for To Your Health comes from Fresh Healthy Cafe in Cape Girardeau -- located inside St. Francis Medical Center. Online ordering is at freshsaintfrancis.com

To Your Health: Epsom Salt Can Ease Sore Muscles

flickr user mbtphoto (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)
Good Ole Epsom Salts

I can remember a big milk carton style box of Epsom salts sitting in the linen closet at my grandparents’ house. Like the canister of Metamucil in the kitchen and the denture tray in the bathroom, it seemed like one of the mysteries of senior citizens that would one day be revealed to me.  So I was surprised when after indulging in a massage recently, the massage therapist told me I should take a bath with Epsom salts that night. Didn’t I have at least another 20 years before I needed that? And wasn’t it sort of an old-timey remedy? Did it even really work?

Epsom salts are indeed an old remedy. According to The Epsom Salt Council, they have been used for health purposes since the 1500’s when they were discovered in Epsom, England. They contain the naturally occurring minerals of magnesium and sulfate, so they actually are not a salt at all, but resemble it in appearance.

People can use Epsom salts in a variety of ways, but the most common is to add them to a bath as a way to soak away sore muscles. The idea is that the body absorbs the magnesium and sulfate which reduces swelling and pain. However, there are not a lot of studies to scientifically support this theory and some doctors say that users experience a placebo effect. Using Epsom salts like this certainly can’t hurt you and the benefits of a warm bath have been documented. Complementary Therapies in Medicine found that soaking in warm water daily for 8 weeks is more effective at easing anxiety than a prescription drug.

I know I appreciated my quiet twenty minute soak. While I am hopefully a long way from  grandparent status, I couldn’t remember the last time I took a bath instead of a quick shower. Using  Epsom salts might be a great excuse to make a routine of it.


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