Monday, January 4, 2010

Caitlin White Guest Blogger: Epsom salt hypotheses

Caitlin’s findings on our Epsom salt question! Thank you, Caitlin (and Caitlin's mom)!

So I asked my mom (high school chemistry teacher) for any ideas she had on why bathing in Epsom salt/magnesium sulfate is supposedly so healthy. 
Here is what she hypothesized: 
1) Magnesium is a cofactor for a lot of enzymatic reactions in the body (including enzymes used for detoxification). It is also a component of synovial fluid. 
2) Sulfate binds heavy metals more avidly than magnesium, so theoretically would exchange magnesium for a heavy metal it came in contact with. When sulfate binds a heavy metal it becomes insoluble and precipitates out of solution (which would drive the reaction further towards completion). 
3) The super-saturated salt bath acts as a disinfectant (similar to honey because they are both hypertonic solutions) on open wounds by lysing bacterial cells. 
Number 1 seems plausible to me since your skin can definitely absorb nutrients/chemicals, so I guess bathing in magnesium sulfate would increase the amount you have available in your body? Number 2 seems a little far-fetched, since I don't know that we really carry a lot of heavy metals in our body (any of you know about this?), and Number 3 also definitely seems likely... but I wonder if frequent baths would change your natural skin flora for the better or the worse? 
Also, during her "research" she said she stumbled upon an article on the benefits of fasting combined with vigorous exercise (she is always giving me a hard time about practicing yoga on an empty stomach). Apparently this combination promotes detoxification because a lot of toxins are stored in fat cells (where they can hide out for long periods of time), but when you fast, your body is forced to metabolize fat to provide energy, thereby releasing the stored toxins to then be metabolized or excreted in your sweat. I wonder, should I be showering immediately after yoga to wash off my sweat then, otherwise these toxins will be reabsorbed through my skin if I don't?


  1. Here's a comment from Alex (it won't let him post for some reason):

    I think you are right. less on the heavy metals and more on the superficial detox. If you were doing your skin harm in terms of the flora, wouldn't it become evident in an either visible or sensible way?

    I think the fasting stuff is dead on. when i have eaten closer to practice than the usual oj and coffee 90 mins prior, i feel heavy and bloated. I get no sense of getting any energy from food. however, if i do a poor job of feeding up over a period of days, i start to feel stretched, strung out.

    There is absolutely something going on with this backbending/sleep thing. i have been much more wakeful (not the same as insomniac) the last two nights but not totally wiped out as after a genuinely bad night.

    Also, not sure if it's just tired and sore but my practice was a long way from quiet today. definitely some darkness. It is probably just the shock to the body. after the 9 hour yoga weekend.


  2. What a great blog! I think the Magnesium does bind to a significant number of heavy metals, due to the mercury, tin, and cadmium most of us have absorbed from dental fillings, have breathed, eaten via impure foods, especially in the U.S., and sometimes absorbed from medications and canned foods and drinks.


  3. Thank you, Matt! Great to hear from you, and yes I think you are right about how much we ingest/absorb heavy metals and don't even realize it.