We’re firm believers that you should never turn down a chance to recharge with a warm, quiet Epsom salt bath. And that’s especially true if you’re dealing with insomnia and digestive issues from a stress hormone imbalance, menopause and postmenopause, and hypothyroidism.
Two hormone imbalance symptoms Epsom salt baths may help
Epsom salts aren’t actually a form or type of salt—and should never be consumed by mouth. They’re 100% magnesium sulfate, and magnesium is an important mineral with positive well-known effects on some symptoms of hormone imbalance. Epsom salt baths are commonly recommended by a variety of healthcare and integrative specialists for a wide variety of ailments. Try adding a them—and a steamy bath—to your nighttime routine for insomnia and constipation.
Warm baths before bedtime are soothing and relaxing, so you can unwind and clear your mind—which may help lower stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline and cortisol can disrupt sleep and contribute to insomnia. These hormones elevate blood glucose and temporarily prevent production of melatonin, which can leave you feeling wide awake or wired but tired.
If you’re using hot baths for sleep, aim to turn on the water about 60 to 120 minutes before you want to pull back your comforter and get some shut-eye. Aside from relaxation and stress-hormone reduction, adding a warm soak to your sleep routine helps because it changes your core body temperature. In the evening, your core body temp should naturally decline—it’s necessary for good sleep.
By bringing blood flow and heat to the skin surface and away from your core, a warm bath temporarily raises body temp. After you’re done and dried off, though, that rise facilitates a more efficient drop in core body temperature. (So you can rest better.) How hot do you need to go? Everyone’s different, so pay attention to your body. Studies showed that water temps of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit led to better sleep quality (and more sleep overall). But that may be too warm for you.
Putting Epsom salts in your bath water may provide even more sleep-related benefits. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, and it’s needed for our body to carry out its processes—including producing melatonin, which is a key hormone in helping you fall asleep. It’s also important for making GABA, a calming neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and anxious thoughts.
Constipation can be a common problem in hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid), as well as in menopause and during postmenopause. In hypothyroidism, too little thyroid hormone causes body processes to slow down. Low levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause have similar results. A warm bath can aid constipation from these causes. Here’s how: when stress hormones are elevated, muscle spasms can occur in the digestive tract. If limited to a single area, these spasms can prevent material from moving through efficiently. Because warm baths are comforting and relaxing, they can reduce stress hormones and spasms, so you stay regular.
But Epsom salts may bring even more help for constipation. Magnesium pulls water into the digestive tract. Increasing dietary magnesium or taking Epsom-salt baths can help speed things along. Plus, getting more magnesium is important in hypothyroidism overall. Low magnesium status influences how your thyroid cells use iodine, which then affects the amount of thyroid hormones you produce. Magnesium may also help with converting inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into T3, an active form ready for cells to use.
How to use Epsom salts
Most drugstores and grocery stores carry Epsom salts. Look for one that’s 100% magnesium sulfate, without other added ingredients. Add one or two cups of Epsom salts to a standard-size bath tub of water, and be sure to enjoy your soak for about 20 minutes. Keep in mind you’ll want to hold off if you have an open cut or skin abrasion.
Even though Epsom salt baths are popular and have a lot of positive anecdotal reports, science isn’t quite clear on whether or not you can efficiently absorb magnesium through your skin. However, Epsom salt baths certainly don’t hurt, and taking a few minutes to unwind and recharge can go a long way toward helping you feel better and improve hormone health and well-being.
For more on how magnesium benefits hormones, check out our article, The mineral your hormones may be missing.