EPSOM SALT SOAKS

Epsom salt is made of crystalized magnesium, sulfur and oxygen, not salt (sodium) as one may expect.  It has many wonderful uses, but my favorites are listed below.  

  1. Epsom bath soak: Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes to help relieve muscle sprains and tame tendonitis. Your body absorbs the magnesium through your skin, which helps to relax your muscles and improve your sleep.
  2. Shower and foot scrub: A homemade Epsom scrub can provide a boost of magnesium and super soft skin. Mix 1 cup of Epsom salt with ¼ cup of almond oil and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Store any left overs in an airtight container since it will keep for months at a time!
  3. Facial exfoliation: Upgrade your favorite facial cleanser by adding a pinch of Epsom salt for weekly skin exfoliation. 
  4. Constipation relief: For occasional constipation, a teaspoon of Epsom salt dissolved in water can help clear the pipes. As always, check with your health care practitioner first.
  5. Splinter removal: Soak in concentrated Epsom salt water solution to soften skin enough to easily pull out a splinter.
  6. Bug bites: Dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salt in to ½ cup of water. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  7. Minor sunburn relief: Mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt with ½ cup of water and spritz on to minor sunburns to help take out some of the heat.
  8. Tile + grout cleaner: Mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and Epsom salts to scrub tile and grout. If the grout is especially dirty, add a bit of ammonia to help. Rinse well for a streak free shine. To shine your floors, combine ½ cup of Epsom salt to a gallon of warm sudsy water. Add more salt if your floor tiles are especially dirty.
  9. Roses, tomatoes, and houseplants: Your plants love magnesium just as much as you do! Add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil before planting tomatoes to boost growth. You can also help your houseplants grow by adding a couple tablespoons of Epsom to their water to keep them extra green. Epsom even helps roses bushes; sprinkle a tablespoon a week to the soil around the bush before watering for faster growth.

DIY Castor Oil Packs

*** The instructions below are from one of my professors, Dr. Heidi Lovie, D.Ac. - see more at www.lovieacupuncture.com ***

Castor oil has the unique ability to sink transdermally through the skin to relax smooth muscle. This simple action has a healing influence on all hollow organs, specifically the blood and lymph vessels, the uterus, fallopian tubes, bowels, gallbladder, and even the liver which is not hollow but is filled with venous reservoirs of blood. 

WHEN TO AVOID THEM

It's best to avoid using castor oil packs if you have a fever, appendicitis, diabetic neuropathy, a scar that has not yet fully healed, lacerated skin, or if you are pregnant. If you're trying to get pregnant, avoid castor oil packs unless you're menstruating. 

RECOMMENDED USES

  • Use on places where your body is struggling with chronic pain or an old injury. This includes the lower back, shoulders, hips, neck, and large joints.
  • Use over your abdomen and stomach if you are chronically constipated, have issues with IBS or Crohn's disease. 
  • Use on your right side, directly over your liver, for any type of liver congestion. 
  • Use on your right side, directly over your gallbladder, prior to gallbladder flushes or to aid in mitigating gallstone pain.
  • Use as an aid in an overall detox regimen.
  • Use on the back of the neck and shoulders to aid in relieving tension headaches.
  • Use as part of a scar therapy regimen once the incision has closed and fully healed, especially cesarean scars or post-pregnancy abdominal stretch marks.
  • Use to help with lymphatic drainage. 
  • Use directly over the lower abdomen for GYN issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts that are not cancerous. Castor oil packs can also relieve ovarian pain and help with healing after a ruptured ovarian cyst. The packs do wonders for caesarean scars and menstrual cramps.

FREQUENCY OF USE

When using for pain, scar therapy, lymphatic drainage or menstrual disorders, it's best to use the pack 3 times a week for about 90 minutes at a time for at least 6 weeks. It's best to give your body a rest for a day or two between usages so that it has a chance to incorporate the work you've done with the pack. Some websites advise not to use the packs while menstruating because it can increase bleeding; however, if you have congestion in your uterus that's exactly what you want. I often recommend the packs to patients who's menstrual blood is sticky, contains dark clots larger than the size of an eraser head, or if the menstrual blood is consistently dark purple to brown colored through the majority of their bleed time. If you experience a heavy flow that is bright red and/or you are changing your hygiene products every couple hours because you're bleeding through, then you should consider waiting to use the castor oil packs until you have finished menstruating. 

If you're using the pack to help out your digestion or a specific organ such as the liver, kidneys or colon; you can get away with 90 minutes twice a week for 2 to 3 weeks.

If you're using the castor oil pack to aid in general detox, the protocol is a bit more rigorous. You'll need to use the packs for 3 weeks in a specific order: Day 1 = Kidneys, Day 3 = Liver, Day 5 = Colon. The pack should remain over the designated area for a minimum of 90 minutes.  If you've been chronically ill or finding that detox is difficult due to a high level of toxicity, it's best to start slow and use the pack for 30 minutes at a time until your system becomes strong enough to process the toxins that are being released. If you're using this for detox and you start to experience aching joints, headaches, muscle pain, foggy thinking, nausea or strange symptoms, it's best to shorten the duration of use. It's good to follow up with an Epsom salt bath or foot soak to help remove toxins.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • Cold pressed hexane free castor oil for external use.
  • Heating pad or hot water bottle. There are arguments for and against both choices; I prefer the hot water bottle.
  • You can go old school with wool flannel and saran wrap or new school with wee-wee pads which are the exact same thing as disposable castor oil packs but at a much more affordable price. 
  • Baking soda, baby powder or arrowroot powder

HOW TO DO A CASTOR OIL PACK

Because castor oil stains, get into some comfy clothes you don't mind messing up. It's a good idea to put down an old towel where ever you'll be relaxing so you don't stain your upholstery.

  1. Old School Method: Cut the wool flannel into a strip that's about 12”x 14” and place it a flat surface on top of piece of saran wrap. New School Method: Place the wee-wee pad on flat surface with the cotton side up.
  2. Pour 3 tablespoons of castor oil onto the center of the wool flannel or pad. The material doesn't need it to be dripping with oil, just evenly distributed and enough to rub off on your skin. It would be similar to a wet sponge after you wring it out.
  3. Place either the flannel or the pad over the desired area; over the liver area for general use according to the Edgar Cayce followers, centered over the belly-button for digestion problems or constipation, centered over the lower abdomen for mentrual issues, or placed on the lower back for lumbago. If you’re using the pad, you're all set. If you're using the flannel, use the saran wrap to wrap yourself like a futuristic mummy so that the flannel stays against your skin.
  4. Get cozy on the couch or in bed, throw your heating pad or hot water bottle over the castor oil pack and catch up on your Netflix queue. In order to really work, the pack needs to left on for at least 90 minutes. 
  5. Because castor oil is so viscous, to best wash the oil off your body, sprinkle the area with either a little baking soda, baby powder or arrowroot powder after peeling the pack off your body. That way the oil will easily come off in the shower with soap and water.