Posted on Aug 22, 2011 | Tags: pain management, pain relief, alternative pain management therapies
Here in Arizona, we’ve had a pretty intense monsoon season. It started off a bit slow, but what seems like every week we are securing all patio furniture as another dust storm rolls in. Unfortunately, for our patients living with chronic pain, monsoon season is the worst time of year for increased pain and tension. So when a wonderful Facebook Fan mentioned the use of Epsom salt baths to ease tension when a monsoon is on the way, our pain doctors thought it best to shed some light on why Epsom salt is a natural pain solution to so many patients.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, “a chemical compound containing magnesium, sulfur and oxygen.” It’s an amazing compound that helps to regulate your body’s formation of brain tissue and joint proteins. Magnesium is important for energy production, as well as muscle, bone and nerve maintenance.
Magnesium, according to the Epsom Salt Council, is the second-most abundant element in human cells and fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body. It helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes in the body. Many studies state that most Americans are magnesium deficient, which can lead to increased risk for chronic conditions involving joint pain, as well as heart disease and stroke.
Proponents of Epsom salt swear by its detoxifying nature, cleansing the body of harmful substances that might increase overall chronic pain. Others claim that it’s naturally calming effect can reduce tension and release pain.
Epsom Salt Baths
While there is little scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of Epsom salt baths, there are many chronic pain patients, especially those who live with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or RSD, who swear by these therapeutic baths.
Epsom salt baths are a wonderful alternative treatment for stress and tension, pain and inflammation, digestion, and detoxification. Some scarce studies have shown these soothing baths to boost energy and reduce pain usually associated with fibromyalgia.
Stress and tension, as we’ve mentioned many times before, are huge contributors to increased chronic pain. When a monsoon is about to roll in, not only does the increase barometric pressure lead to more pain, our very own anxiety leads to increased adrenaline, a factor of stress and increased pain. Adrenaline is believed to drain the body of magnesium and cortisol, natural stress relievers, which could contribute to why Epsom salt baths work so well. By replenishing the body with magnesium, Epsom salt baths helps to stabilize mood, lower adrenaline, and decrease stress.
Preparing for the Monsoon
Any Arizona pain doctor will tell you how important it is to keep stress levels low and reduce anxiety to control pain. However, during the monsoon season, when atmospheric pressures play a role in pain management, anxiety regarding the weather patterns can be difficult to control. It’s a vicious cycle; increased pressure in the atmosphere due to oncoming storms leads to increased pain, which leads to increased anxiety, which only makes matters worse. Before you know it, your body is trained to feel increased pain at the very thought of a summer monsoon.
When you know a storm is coming, do your best to reduce stress by creating distractions. Perhaps go to a movie where you’ll be indoors through the worst of the storm. Or, as many of our patients do, draw up a warm Epsom salt bath, grab a good book and a cup of herbal tea, and relax as the storm blows by.