Epsom Salt and Salicylate Sensitivity

by | Sep 16, 2022

Touted for its ability to aid in the relief of aches and pains associated with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and tendinitis, Epsom salt bathing has also become a popular therapeutic remedy for those suffering from salicylate sensitivity.

Known by its chemical name, Magnesium Sulfate, the naturally occurring mineral compound is thought to be able to help transform unwanted phenols (e.g. salicylates) for safe elimination from the body. This reduction in phenol load could, in theory, be behind the reduction in symptoms experienced by the salicylate sensitive.

While the thought of being able to reduce symptoms via a quick soak in the tub is appealing, it really does need to be pointed out that while anecdotal claims abound, the scientific backing for Epsom salt is sparse.

Currently, there is plenty of research supporting the internal usage of Epsom salt as a treatment for constipation (it’s a great laxative) and magnesium deficiency. However, in terms of being able to relieve aches and pains by absorption through the skin (3) – the research into Epsom salt baths, and sulfate supplementation in general, has been neglected.

That being said, Epsom salt is considered safe when used correctly, and given that its also very cheap to purchase, it may be worth a shot for those hoping to find an alternative way to keep symptoms at bay. At the very least, it’s a relaxing way to pass the time.

As always, please consult with your doctor and/or dietitian before using Epsom salts for salicylate sensitivity. Medical experts will be able to ascertain whether it’s safe for you to use based on your individual health condition and/or medications you’re currently taking.


FAQs about Epsom Salt and Salicylate Sensitivity

How do Epsom salts work for salicylate sensitivity?

The theory is that those with salicylate sensitivity have a problem with processing phenols (salicylates are classified as a phenol). One possible reason for this is a lack of sulfate in the body which is needed to transform unwanted phenols for safe elimination. Sulfate can be acquired via Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), which may be absorbed through the skin. This, it is believed, may make additional sulfate available for phenol processing. 

How much Epsom salt should I use?

In terms of optimum Epsom salt levels, one small study suggested that most people find maximal benefit by using 500-600g Epsom salts / 60 litres (~15 gallons) water.

It should be noted that adverse effects have been experienced by ingesting high levels of inorganic sulfate, and as of yet, there is limited information available to set a tolerable upper intake level for sulfate (1).

Therefore, make sure to stick to packet/website instructions and aim to build up your usage over time (e.g. for baths, start with a few tablespoons, then build up gradually to 1-2 cups over the next few weeks).

How long and how often should I soak in Epsom salt?

The usual recommended time for soaking in Epsom salt is 20-30 minutes for 2 or 3 times per week.

Where can I purchase Epsom salts from?

Epsom salts can usually be found in your local supermarket or chemist. Otherwise you can order it online from Amazon.


How to make Epsom salt bath

What you need

  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • Warm water


  1. Pour the salt into the warm running bath water (between 92°F to 100°F / 33°C to 38°C).
  2. Stir the water to help dissolve all the grains.
  3. Soak in bath for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Repeat every three days.


How to make Epsom salt foot soak

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup bicarbonate soda
  • Foot basin


  1. Dissolve Espom salt and bicarbonate soda in a foot bath filled with warm water (between 92°F to 100°F / 33°C to 38°C).
  2. Make sure the water reaches your ankles.
  3. Soak feet in bath for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Repeat every three days.


How to make Espom salt lotion

What you need:

  • ½ cup sunflower oil
  • 1 Tbsp beeswax
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp epsom salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salicylate-free liquid soap (e.g. Cetaphil)


  1. Place oil and beeswax in a microwave-safe container and heat for 2 minutes or until the beeswax has completely melted.
  2. In a separate microwave-safe container, heat water in microwave for 2 minutes.
  3. Add Epsom salt and baking soda to warmed water and stir until completely dissolved (water should be clear at this point).
  4. Add melted beeswax mixture, warmed water mixture and soap to a blender. Blitz for a couple of seconds until you achieve a lotion-like texture.
  5. Once cooled, place lotion into a bottle and store in the fridge (the lotion doesn’t contain any preservatives).
  6. Shake before using and apply as needed.
  7. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy making your own lotion, you can purchase a ready-made one such as Dermal Therapy Epsom Salt Lotion



(1) Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/10925

(2) Waring, Dr R H. “Absorption of magnesium sulfate.” Mgwater.com, 2004, http://www.mgwater.com/transdermal.shtml. Accessed 12 September 2022.

(3) Mitchell SC, Waring RH. Sulphate absorption across biological membranes. Xenobiotica. 2016;46(2):184-91. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2015.1054921. Epub 2015 Jul 30. PMID: 26226518.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


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