Do Epsom Salt Baths Do Anything?

Do Epsom Salt Baths Do Anything?


If you’ve ever felt achy after a long run
or had a stubborn, ingrown toenail, you might have read online about the wonders of epsom
salt. Sprinkle some into a bath, take a long soak,
and voila! You’re on your way to feeling better. Besides softening your skin and relieving
pain, some people even claim that epsom salt can somehow “raise your mineral levels”
or “draw toxins from your body”. Whatever that means. But like most things on the internet, it’s
probably too good to be true. Epsom salt is a form of magnesium sulfate,
a compound made of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It was named “epsom” after a small town
in Surrey, England, which is just southwest of London. In the 1600s, it became a popular spa town
because some of its natural springs were full of magnesium sulfate. Most of the claims about epsom salt solving
your life’s problems have to do with the magnesium in it. Your body uses magnesium to carry out all
kinds of chemical reactions, and it also helps keep your bones strong, your nerves firing
properly, and your heart beating consistently. Which are all probably things you want. There’s just one problem: There’s no evidence
that any of the magnesium in your epsom salt bath actually gets inside you. One report did show magnesium and sulfate
levels going up in people’s blood after they soaked for a few minutes in an epsom
salt bath. But this study didn’t have a control group
for comparison, and it was never published in a peer-reviewed journal. So they aren’t the most reliable results
in the world. You might even say that you should take them
with a giant grain of salt The truth is, your skin is a great barrier,
and it doesn’t just absorb anything that’s touching it. So most experts don’t think much, if any,
mineral gets into your body during a soak. But even if some did, that magnesium would
only help people who have a deficiency. If you already have enough magnesium, more
isn’t going to help you. And if you do have a deficiency, there are
much better ways to get extra magnesium, like through certain nuts and leafy veggies. Now, that doesn’t mean magnesium sulfate
isn’t a useful drug. When you drink it, it’s actually a well-known
laxative. And injected, it can help prevent pregnant
women with high blood pressure from having seizures. It’s pretty amazing. But that relief your sore muscles get from
a bath? It’s possible the salt is doing something,
but it’s more likely that it’s a placebo: you think it should help, so you feel like
it does. The benefits could also just be from the warm
water and the relaxing feeling of the bath itself, with no salt necessary. Until a good study tests it out, we won’t
know for sure, but there’s a good chance epsom salt baths aren’t any better than
a plain old tub of water. That said, epsom salts aren’t harmful. So even if they aren’t doing anything for
you, if you like taking your epsom salt baths, you can keep doing that. Just don’t say there’s any scientific
proof they work. Thanks to Patreon patron Elizabeth Herrity
for asking this question! And thanks to all of our patrons who keep
the answers coming. If you’d like to help support the show and
submit your questions, you can go to patreon.com/scishow. And for more episodes like this, you can go
to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe.

100 Comments

  • frank rizzo says:

    People say sticking my finger up my ass doesn't do anything either but I beg to differ

  • Walter Clements says:

    epsom salt, when dried in an oven is a useful drying agent in chemistry

  • vin 950 says:

    there is scientific proof that they work.

  • Chris Fontaine says:

    screw you, I'm going to soak in warm water and epsom salt

  • Kit R. says:

    Epsom salt soaks worked well for my ingrown toenail issue in H.S., maybe it's just a decent disinfectant?

  • Spoony Quine says:

    Salt water does not dry out my skin but fresh water does. Maybe Epsom salts are good if you have dry skin?
    They are of course handy in sensory deprivation tanks…

  • porkyV2 says:

    knocked it down and never even tried, huh? try it, you'd be amazed. placebo? tell me about it after you're aaahhing from the relief it brings. don't have a bath tub? make magnesium oil from epsom salt. you're welcome.

  • Lewis Cleveland says:

    One year I got ate up bad by chiggers boiled four quart's water three cups salts into a bath it and I go twenty minutes later I became a believer in the old ways.

  • Elaine nicholson says:

    Can he please go into my epsom salt bath? 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

  • Safir says:

    #placeboreligion

  • Slum City Marv says:

    Dude your an idiot, epsom salt is a 100% beneficial in all the ways stated! You kids grow up with a theory and then think you know it all regardless of what has been proven in case studies or not, results don’t lie.

  • Slum City Marv says:

    Dude your an idiot, epsom salt is a 100% beneficial in all the ways stated! You kids grow up with a theory and then think you know it all regardless of what has been proven in case studies or not, results don’t lie.

  • Shrimp Bisque says:

    It makes sense that taking an Epsom salt bath wouldn't increase the magnesium levels in your system. If we could absorb nutrients through our skin, we wouldn't need to eat.
    Also, Epsom salt's laxative properties are probably pretty well-known considering they're printed right on the bag.

  • Terrance O’Brien says:

    They must do epsomething

  • Hatski says:

    I tore my ACL and both menisci recently. My knee could barely bend at all because of the swelling, something I was acutely aware of when awkwardly sitting in the bath (standing was out of the question). At the end of the bath I remembered the epsom salt and put it in. With in minutes I'd gained like 45 degrees of mobility. If all that came from a placebo effect, that's one hell of a placebo.

  • Mariana C says:

    You say not not believe in everything the internet says, so why should I believe you? Sources?

  • Evelyn Venus says:

    Tbh Epsom salt baths are really nice just because the salt makes everything float a little bit, it’s very comfortable

  • gerbal higgans says:

    Can you do a video on you getting punched in the face

  • Thomas Shumard says:

    MgSO4 works wonders for me…yes wonders.

  • CaramelLeek says:

    This is how to make the magnesium really do good for your body: eat bananas.

  • pippaknuckle says:

    Excellent question Elizabeth.

  • Miss Chris says:

    I worked as a vitamin clerk and would meet reps that would educate us on various supplements and natural products. There's a magnesium oil they sell which does penetrate the skin. So I would think a warm soak has some validity to it.

  • Bethany Lade says:

    So why isn't any definitive research being done? It sounds pretty straight forward.

  • Dan Diffenderfer says:

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with the conclusion in the video. I have used Epsom salt baths multiple times throughout my life with hangnails. Each time I experience relief the following day.

  • Matthew Cheung says:

    I was wondering why bath salts turn people into zombie, body eaters. Like the one couple years ago in florida that took out their guts? Or eating body parts.

  • nyxxie023 says:

    Thank you. My gym pushes "epsom salt baths" and I just roll my eyes. I don't argue, what's the point? But I know not to waste my time with it. The relief people feel from the epsom salt baths is probably just the bath water soothing their sore muscles.

  • Antemos II says:

    I wonder how much money you have just saved me from this day till the day I pass from this earth! Thank You!

  • Cmac says:

    Ok I am deficient in many electrolytes so I know how blood testing for magnesium works. Magnesium moves between cells in the muscles etc. To the blood and back again so measuring a person's blood levels doesn't actually tell you anything about how much magnesium is outside the bloodstream. I am also deficient in potassium and you require magnesium in order to increase potassium levels. Due to a gi condition I cannot take magnesium by mouth without significant gi upset. I use the gel and soaks daily. When I don't use them I end up hypokalemic. Sorry but in my personal experience it works.

  • Gary Stanullwich says:

    Now…in the year 2018…..Epsom salts are illegal. There have been MANY cases where Epsom salts caused delusional activity in people.

  • Contessa says:

    Wrong message, actually everything you add on your skin goes right at your blood stream

  • Paul Henry says:

    If you soak in distilled water, osmotic pressure will cause your skin to swell. If you soak in a hyper-tonic bath of Epsom salt, osmosis will suck isotonic fluids out of your skin. For deeper infections an Epsom salt poultice will suck isotonic fluids from a wound. Epsom salt will suck pus out of a boil or a zit. That is an actual medical benefit.

  • nedj10 says:

    Ok but at what concentration do epson salts effect the ph of the bath water? Also do they effect the buyuoncy of the bath taker the same way salt water does? Both of those could possibly cause a physical affect perceivable to the bath taker?

  • etmax1 says:

    maybe with a warm bath & salts some of it is in vapour form close to the surface and you breath it in raising your levels?

  • David Martin says:

    Epsom salt soaks work great for fungus on dog feet.

  • Pauper Player says:

    I don't understand the part about the skin not being a good absorption route.. There are many fluids can be incredibly toxic if they contact your skin, so I call bs.
    Pretty sure soaking in a hot bath would open your pores & by inhaling the steam increase the absorption of whatever you're soaking in.

  • buru kenge says:

    So I keep doing bath salts ?

  • lil moe says:

    You don't always need double-blind studies, sometimes common sense or history can help make things clear. For example, you raise doubt about magnesium being absorbed through the skin in amounts beneficial for improving health. Well, you are too young to remember this and also not a woman but I am older and a woman and remember a time when women's facial base cosmetics contained lead. Many women were poisoned and experienced high levels of poisoning in addition hormone creams have been being used by women to boost hormone levels in the body for years. The skin is totally capable of absorption to a high degree so I would think the magnesium is very beneficial in taking Epsom salt baths. In Japan where most of the oldest people in the world live they take baths in high mineral content natural hot spring baths for centuries. In fact they are what is known as a bathing culture they are much healthier than Americans all day long. The American medical industry has a lot to learn that is why doctors are called practicing physicians.

  • Robert Bennett says:

    Maybe someone should do a study on this

  • Budo Ka says:

    Ide feel better if you took a bath with me Michael 😛

  • Cillana says:

    But what if you super saturate the water and need magnesium for migraines? Am I gaining magnesium or losing water?

  • Hannah Southerland says:

    Idk… the first time I used epsom salt, I didn't think it would work at all, but the relief was significant. I had never heard of epsom salt being used for anything other than a laxative, and when it was suggested to me, I was VERY skeptical. But it helped a lot. I'd love to find out more about it for sure!

  • Michelle Xx says:

    Saki baths can make people drunk. I am big believer in epsom salt baths

  • Eyes onFire says:

    works well for growing meds and veggies lol 🙂

  • LulitaInPita says:

    1:15 stop. Just stop. 😂

  • Drew Yardley says:

    Magnesium sulphate is good for your tomatoes and citrus. Interesting to know there’s no proof that it does anything in the bath, I didn’t realise. Oh well at least it makes the water feel silky and relaxing.

  • Sweet Pea says:

    The skin is the largest organ. The skin can absorb. Yes Epson salt bath work. Cut yourself deep enough and if it is turning red and swelling soak in a hot Epson salt bath. It draws out any infection. Yes it works.

  • Grant Lauzon says:

    Does it change the density and or buoyancy?
    It’s very hard to drown in the black sea so maybe it applies more pressure to the body without having to dive as deep.

  • Genisay says:

    They do tend to smell good at least, and the smooth feeling is kind of nice, so that might help with being relaxed. ^.^

  • Concerned Geek says:

    Huh, I always thought it had something to do with the fact that its just more salient than regular water, but no one has a done a study on the skin cells of the foot and its water levels. It seems like this video might just be for some schmuck who wants to prove his or her significant other wrong about something than actually showing the scientific results for what we know about epsom salt. I mean, you guys didnt even go over the evidence shown of balneotherapy and how that can help properly redistribute blood pressure, so I cant really expect you to take epsom salt seriously enough to discuss it but…well whatever. Maybe some young science student will do this and we can finally actually talk about it instead of creating a video like this where its mostly just “we dont know”. Cool though, thanks for wasting my time on this earth

  • 69NOMAN69 noman says:

    epson salt works great at pulling infection out of the body and baking soda is great for stopping acid stomach.

  • busyquirrel says:

    I use it for constipation.. lol

  • Shawnee Union says:

    If you feel better you feel better. No worries

  • HairoftheDog says:

    Then by that logic do you have any scientific proof that taking an Epsom salt bath is not dangerous? You laid out all the scientific reasons why there hasn't been enough peer review or studies to conclude that it is helpful. Then you just say that it's not dangerous. How do we know this hasn't been causing issues for years? I doubt it is but the fact that said that so nonchalantly

  • jerrylwinston says:

    Can you intentionally give yourself the benefits of the placebo effect? If the affect is triggered by a subconscious understanding of "treatment" can you consciously hide the true nature of the placebo by making the experience authentic to your subconscious mind (pill boxes, dosage cups, etc.)

  • jack adams says:

    I wanna punch this dude in the face

  • Justin C says:

    I once had a tick in the side of my stomach and I took a bath in Epsom salt. When I was done I got out and noticed blood. The damn tick rejected out and blew up! I would definitely recommend it safe for pets with ticks. Be safe all

  • Събина Георгиева says:

    Does that mean that the magnesium oil is not absorbed trough the skin as good as it’s said to be?

  • FireOfSinai DDS says:

    I have no dog in this fight but ill say this. When i was in physical conditioning, my hips were killing me. My trainers had me doing various stretches for weeks but my hips and IT bands continued to hurt. Out of desperation, i tried epsom salt baths for 20 mins. After 2 days, my hips and IT band didnt hurt anymore

  • Mark Miranda says:

    This didn't answer the other half of the question about infections and bug bites/stings ??????

  • Jacob says:

    When suffering from bulging and herniated discs I frequently bathe with them and I think it's just me hoping and praying for some, if any type of relief. In the end all that happens is my skin feels a little more smooth in the tub.

  • ronald frank says:

    chandler bing XD bath scene from friends remember?

  • Julianna Okike says:

    Your mom

  • Tyler Osso says:

    I don’t understand why you don’t have a person wash, then rinse, test their blood and the bath water before and after.

  • Slappy says:

    It works as a laxative for sure lol.

  • keiichi maebara says:

    Placebo affects don't usually work on me So how do you explain episom salt I don't know I've seen so many contradictions to the people claiming that there is no scientific evidence I've seen stressed this much scientific evidence of it working and ABC saying that it doesn't work yet there even being contradicted by scientific evidence you know what I think I think it works and people are just looking for a way to disprove what scientists have already proved that's my personal opinion

  • Arch Angel says:

    Your skin absorbs dimethylmercury very well. Just ask Karen Wetterhahn

  • Ki Suh-Hyung says:

    I literally subscribed in a second when I saw the guy in the video. Like WOAH he is hot

  • Ken Daniel Murphy says:

    Don't dash my dreams of becoming a salt cube. This gonna work.

  • Bazooka Llama Productions says:

    Please do more videos debunking psychics and astrology and voodoo and Wicca and Crystal healing and homeopathy and all those other horseshit topics.

  • Uganda Knuckles says:

    It helps a lot but use much more then recommended

  • Keith Rodriguez says:

    Well after a week of pain in my knuckles I decided to soak my hand in warm water with epsom salt, and after watching this video I shouldn’t’t fall for this placebo effect, so I’m going to continue my boxing training but keep the workout light as well as soaking my hand every night for the next 7 days and see if it gets noticeably better. Will edit post with results afterwards (if I remember too).

  • Jennifer Ashtar says:

    So is there scientific proof that Epsom salt baths aren’t harmful?

  • TFfolkes says:

    no numbmuts …… it can be absorbed through skin,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Playground dolls says:

    Well I LL tell you this. Iff you have swollen feet's soak suck in soda powder and put on at night (cover with plastic to not wet bed). In the morning you will have feets like in 18 year old . I tried it works. Did soda get in throw skin? Did water followed soda? Miracle for you but not for us.
    So same with salt, magnesium etc. It works. Even cabbages putted on inflammation area at night works 100%. enjoy instead off trying to proof it's not. Just live.
    Skin is breathing, letting in and out etc😉

  • Brenda Monge says:

    Taking one now lol

  • CJ says:

    Hexen bath salts can actually soothe a lot of pain as well as keep you motivated and energetic

  • i-sopod float tanks says:

    It's why floatation tanks are great for humans – magnesium and sulphate are essential to go human physical and mental health in each float tank there's up to 1200lbs (550kg) of pure Epsom salt. https://i-sopod.com/blog/why-float-tanks-use-epsom-salt-2017-10-07

  • Jeff W says:

    I'm surprised he didn't say take a bath in sugar. Espsom salt work wonders. Do your own research!!!!!

  • ya00007 says:

    What about magnesium oil?

  • Abdullah Filistini says:

    So eager to bash natural remedies when there's no "proper" science to back them up. Clinical experience and anecdotal reports are important too and the absence of research does not prove the absence of benefits. You would rather say that it is probable that thes baths have a benefit because of the VAST amount of good experiences people have had. Don't make science your religion, use it as a tool and don't worship it.

  • Christopher Birung says:

    I think even google has no exact answer with my query, how to make your own SCOBY? not out of kombucha, not from a piece from mother scoby, but literally out from scratch?? My apologies if my question is not even related to this video, but i hope you find a clear answer, thnx in advanced! 😊

  • friendlyhorse says:

    Make another video about the science of salt NOT going up my butt in the bathtub.

  • d oug says:

    have you ever tried it? who is this punk? 2 earrings are a placebo.

  • S C says:

    So they found that magnesium levels rises in the blood stream during the soak, but most experts don't think any minerals get into the body during the soak, them experts don't have any logic😂 What about using moisturizers on the skin, they soak all the goodness. The biggest organ in the body has to soak in! Dip your body in some acid and it will soak in lol 😂😂😂😂

  • David Harbuck says:

    https://youtu.be/I3gjBt0h0Os

  • John Appleyard says:

    I’m pretty sure The Big Lebowski had a epson bath

  • Josh Baker says:

    I am a vet and have stiff joints, nerve damage and muscle spasms. I recently took a trip where i didnt have my Epsom salt and noticed a huge diffrence in the foresaid areas. May be placebo but if its not broke dont fix it

  • Nephilim Heart says:

    I like how bottled water has magnesium "added for taste" lol! On summer job sites ppl would always end up with diarrhea. Also, thats a very pretty man.

  • Nephilim Heart says:

    Dude, this guy should do audio books. I love his cadence and tone.

  • Cam says:

    0:05 No I’m limping after football practice and can barely stand..

  • Ugari Channel says:

    All I know is that when I took one, I woke up the next morning with the most relaxed back ever. Wasn't placebo either. Just felt awesome!

  • otis driftwood says:

    Only women and pirates look good in earrings.

  • Scotty 1D says:

    It would be in big pharmas interest to stump any studies confirming the claims or do a legit study disproving the claims, they wont because they cant. The salt is cheap and readily available for all…classic threat.

  • Futekihito says:

    This video challenges all common sense from anybody with a brain , must have been paid and produced by big pharma companies

  • Benjamin Turner says:

    Could well be a placebo, but for the low cost and no actual disadvantages, I'll still keep using it! If it's not doing any harm and costing me about 0.50 per week

  • MyLittleAdventure26 says:

    As I literally sit in an epson salt bath

  • Catepilarr says:

    Pronunciation of Surrey. Look it up.

  • Welll Helllooo thereee says:

    If you have a infection on your foot, salt cures cuts, right? Sooooo….. Epson salt could pretty much do the same thing…?

  • AlienGuy16 says:

    I get the scarcity of reliable evidence makes this a hard to believe, but I have to say there is no way this is a placebo effect.

    I was born with a clubfoot, and had corrective surgery at 9 months old. It has always caused some level of pain, mostly when I wake up, and after any significant physical activity such as running. When I was 13 a doctor found the starting signs of arthritis in it, and confused the x-ray for a broken ankle lol. I'm 25 now, and every day is a struggle with it. Working through near constant pain from various causes, including the effects my foot has had on my knees, hips, and back. But I recently tried soaking in Epsom salt for the first time, wondering how it was supposed to work, if at all. But to my surprise the effects are night and day. For the first time in YEARS I got out of bed without limping. Even after working an 8 hour shift I felt almost no pain in my joints. Maybe I have a deficiency like this video mentioned, but I could never deny the effects of just ONE Epsom salt bath. Granted I'm pretty sure I used way too much and soaked for too long as well lmao.

  • WhimZpix says:

    Btw: Very attractive and toxic for pets. This common salt is used in bath products. Wipe and rinse surfaces like tiles and tubs and keep pets from licking "left behind surface salts". Doesn't take much to kill your pet as it accumulates in organs like the kidneys over time. Magnesium salts absorb moisture from the air and soon lose that sparkle element.

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