Epsom salts are composed of magnesium and sulfate (sulphate). Both of which are nutrients which may be of benefit to those suffering from environmental illnesses.
The salts dissolve in water so can be used in a bath or footbath and have traditionally been used in this way to aid relaxation. Research conducted by Dr Rosemary Waring at the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, UK, demonstrated that both magnesium and sulfate are easily absorbed through the skin during bathing in epsom salts. The optimum level of epsom salts required seemed to be 400-600g per bath (60 litres UK/15 gallons US). Blood levels of both magnesium and sulfate continued to rise with repeated daily baths. Epsom salts baths are therefore a highly effective way to increase the levels of these important substances in the body. Epsom salts may now be available in transdermal patches and some parents of autistic children reportedly make up their own if baths are not an option.
Magnesium: A very important mineral in the body. Magnesium acts as a co-factor for numerous metabolic reactions including but not limited to those involving energy production, muscle function and the production of neurotransmitters. Magnesium is calming to the nervous system and as such acts as a natural tranquiliser. Sufficient levels of this mineral therefore are essential to maintaining healthy energy levels, mental functioning and mood. Studies and the clinical experience of doctors such as Dr. Sarah Myhill have demonstrated that red cell magnesium levels are low in those with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and that supplementation brings symptomatic improvements in patients. Some researchers have also noted magnesium deficiencies in autistic children and those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suggesting supplementation may help, particularly with hyperactivity and behavioural problems.
Sulfate/Sulphate: A form of sulfur which the body requires for important processes includingdetoxification, protection of the gut lining, and activation of hormones such as DHEA. Sulfate is needed to detoxify a wide range of environmental toxins. Researchers including Dr Waring, Professor Malcolm Hooper, and others at Sunderland University, UK, and elsewhere have found that individuals with autism, ME/CFS, Gulf War Syndrome and possibly other environmental illnesses have low levels of sulfate. This may be due to an inability to convert sulfur from the diet into the sulfate form or because the individual has been subjected to a high load of environmental toxins therefore depleting sulfate levels in the body. Epsom Salts would therefore seem to be an ideal way to restore sulfate levels and detoxification potential as the sulfate is supplied in the readily useable form rather than as sulfur as it appears in the diet.