As the world of holistic medicine and conventional medicine continue to intertwine, it is important to understand both sides. Epsom salt is a common household item used for many years. It’s often seen as a natural remedy for various ailments, from soothing sore muscles to promoting bowel movements. However, knowing the risks associated with ingesting Epsom salt is essential. We will look into the relationship between Epsom salt and hypothyroidism, understanding the detoxification process and the safety considerations when exploring using Epsom salt in your wellness routine.
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Epsom salt, scientifically known as magnesium sulfate, has long been hailed for its multifaceted healing properties with benefits far beyond relaxation. One of magnesium sulfate’s more prominent features is its ability to promote overall well-being by regulating essential minerals within the body. Magnesium, a key component of Epsom salt, plays a vital role in enzymatic reactions in charge of various biochemical processes throughout the body. This mineral is crucial for thyroid function because it aids in converting the hormone thyroxine (T4) into the more metabolically active form, triiodothyronine (T3). Because conditions such as hypothyroidism are usually a result of thyroid hormone imbalance, Epsom salt is a noteworthy therapeutic option.
You are probably more used to seeing Epsom salt used in baths, or foot soaks as a popular way to relax the body, both physically and mentally. We will further explore how Epsom salt is believed to support digestive tract health when ingested orally. It is said that Epsom salt can assist in cleansing the colon, potentially providing improved nutrient absorption and a healthier gut environment. We know that a well-functioning digestive system is linked to better thyroid health since so many nutrients influence the body’s ability to both produce and regulate thyroid hormones.
Before we explore an Epsom salt flush (and whether it’s effective and safe), it is crucial to understand the detoxification process that our bodies naturally go through daily. The thyroid regulates the metabolism and is linked to the body’s detoxification pathways. When these pathways or systems are compromised, it’s unable to properly eliminate toxins from the body, resulting in stress on the thyroid and, in the long run, results in conditions such as hypothyroidism. The detoxification system involves various organs throughout the body, including the liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, and the skin. The liver is the star player because it metabolizes and neutralizes toxins so that they are safe to be eliminated from the body through sweat, urine, and feces.
The detoxification system works best when we are mindful of our daily practices, including:
- Eating a diet rich in fiber - This includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber is what helps regulate our bowel movements (and keeps our digestive system happy!). When we have regular bowel movements, meaning once to twice a day, our body can adequately detoxify any unwanted toxins and substances from the body.
- Being physically active - Not only is being physically active important for our cardiovascular system, mental health, and the health of our joints, but it is also vital for encouraging toxin release. When physically active, we are 1) encouraging movement versus stagnation and 2) sweating! Sweating is one of the mechanisms that our body uses to eliminate toxins.
- Drinking adequate amounts of water - Drinking plenty of water throughout the day works synergistically with other practices to flush out the system and move things throughout the body.
- Limit alcohol - Because our liver is where alcohol gets metabolized, too much alcohol consumption can, over time, damage the function of the liver. Issues with liver health can cause fat buildup, inflammation, and scarring.
- Focus on adequate sleep each night - When we are asleep, our bodies work hard to restore our health, including detoxing. Any byproducts or accumulated toxins are filtered while we are sleeping.
Outside of these regular habits, we can incorporate other therapeutic detox options, including Epsom salt. The most known way to use Epsom salt is to add it to a warm bath or hot water and soak your body (or feet) in it. When Epsom salt is dissolved in warm water, the magnesium and sulfate components are absorbed through the skin directly. The Epsom salt helps draw out toxins, and it’s very relaxing! You’ll be earning twice the benefits, one in removing impurities from the body and two in providing a sense of relaxation and reducing stress, which can impact thyroid function.
Generally, adding one to two cups of Epsom salt to a standard-sized bath is suggested. Exceeding this amount can lead to an absorption of too much magnesium, resulting in nausea, dizziness, or skin irritation. You should also ensure that the bath water temperature is not too hot. Scalding baths can cause dehydration, dizziness, and fainting. We recommend starting slow with shorter sessions and observing how your body responds. Little by little, you can decide to commit to more frequent or longer soaking sessions.
Now, let’s look at ingesting Epsom salt orally, known as an Epsom salt flush. You have likely seen this trend online, with influencers adding 2-4 teaspoons of Epsom salt to 8 ounces of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and gulping it down. The intention of an Epsom salt flush is to help alleviate symptoms of constipation. It is believed that ingesting Epsom salt directly acts as a laxative to relieve symptoms of constipation.
Is this considered a safe and effective use of Epsom salt? The short answer is no. One of the main risks of ingesting Epsom salt is its potential to cause gastrointestinal problems. High magnesium doses, including Epsom salt, can lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. This is because the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt acts as a laxative by drawing water into the intestines. While it may be used occasionally as a laxative under medical supervision, ingesting Epsom salt regularly or in excessive amounts can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system.
Another concern is the potential for magnesium toxicity. Consuming too much magnesium can lead to an imbalance, causing symptoms such as low blood pressure, weakness, and irregular heartbeat. In severe cases, it can even be life-threatening. Epsom salt internally.
One case was of a 56-year-old man with a history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. He had ingested more than the recommended dose of Epsom salt. After one hour, he began experiencing weakness, malaise, and confusion. His body temperature also dropped to hypothermic levels.
While Epsom salt baths are generally safe and recommended for most people due to the potential benefits, it is essential to be aware of the safety considerations and necessary precautions.
People with certain health conditions should exercise caution when considering ingesting Epsom salt. Those with kidney problems or impaired kidney function may be unable to effectively excrete the excess magnesium from the body, leading to a buildup and potential toxicity. People with a history of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, or gastrointestinal disorders should consult a healthcare professional before using Epsom salt. Also, soaking in Epsom salt baths may not be advised if you’re pregnant.
Magnesium can potentially affect the absorption of levothyroxine, the synthetic T4 medication used to treat hypothyroidism. Levothyroxine is best taken on an empty stomach. Magnesium supplements, antacids, and some laxatives can bind to levothyroxine in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing it from being properly absorbed into the bloodstream. It is therefore recommended to avoid taking magnesium supplements or other magnesium-containing products within a few hours of taking levothyroxine to ensure optimal absorption and effectiveness.
Magnesium can also affect the absorption of other medications, such as antibiotics like tetracycline and ciprofloxacin, reducing their effectiveness. It can also interact with medications for osteoporosis, like bisphosphonates, reducing their absorption. Additionally, magnesium can interact with certain heart medications, such as digoxin, potentially leading to an irregular heartbeat. It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist before taking magnesium supplements or starting any new medications to confirm no potential interactions.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of constipation, we recommend looking at your daily habits surrounding nutrition, movement, sleep, and water intake, as well as whether you’re deficient in vital nutrients such as magnesium.
While using Epsom salt can be a complementary approach to achieving well-being, it is always important to note that each individual and their results are different. Always consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional who understands your medical history and can best advise whether using Epsom salt would benefit you. Paloma Health doctors can help bridge any gaps in understanding, as their expertise is focused on treating people with hypothyroidism. Remember that not every wellness trend will work for everyone, and that’s okay! Exploring what works and creating a personalized approach is always recommended to support your thyroid health.