Epsom salt footsoaks

*Why do I keep mentioning magnesium & Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate)? Because many chronic physical and mental issues involve low intracellular levels of magnesium. Lab tests checking blood levels usually would miss the problem because the level in the blood is very low compared to the level in the cell fluid. Magnesium is needed to provide power within membranes to control flow of chemically active ions like calcium and sodium which are found in a larger amount in the blood and less inside of the cells. Too much calcium within cells can cause over-activity of the cell to the point of cell death.

Magnesium supplements as a therapy can be helpful but the research is mixed, it may not be absorbed well by enough of the subjects in research studies to suggest that it isn’t helpful on average – people are individuals though, not group averages. Epsom salt, crystals of magnesium sulfate, is a well absorbed form when used dissolved in water, too much can be harmful as magnesium can slow the heart-rate if levels within the blood stream become elevated. Safe use of Epsom salt baths, foot-soaks, or even dampened compresses held on sore muscles can be inexpensive and effective.

We need more health care that is inexpensive and effective. The planet needs healthy people and less medical waste. Treatment of illness can be costly in time and supplies for the patients and the healthcare team. Preventing worsening of chronic illness or symptoms mental illness improves quality of life for patients, saves time and money and supplies, and reduces the caseload of an overburdened healthcare system. Frequently there is a problem with accessing healthcare specialists or mental health care services, even if payment isn’t a problem.

Epsom salt foot-soaks – might be simpler than a full bath.

Previously I’ve shared an idea about a need for less expensive bathing facilities in urban areas, Public bathing facilities was an option in Rome. Apartments may have only a shower or there might be more tenants sharing space than is feasible to allow enough time for everyone to take turns in one or two bathrooms. The medicinal value of Epsom salt baths may also be difficult for those most in need to be able to enjoy as mobility might be limited. An easily transportable footsoak basin could be brought to a wheelchair or other seating arrangements.

Currently on the market there are various footsoak/pedicure chairs available for the spa market, prices range from $700 to over $2000. Portable heating and bubbling individual foot spa basins are available for home use that range from $40 to over $100. The disadvantages are size, they appear to be fairly small, meant to just cover the foot and the complexity of the shaped basin would make them difficult to clean. Smaller basins would also be easier to spill and difficult to transport from a sink area to a seating area. (example individual foot spa)

Residential facilities with many people who might benefit from the medicinal value of an Epsom salt bath or footsoak would have utility closets designed for easy use of wheeled mop buckets. A utility sink is equipped with a hose for filling buckets and a low rimmed drainage area is built into the floor for easy emptying and cleaning of the buckets. Some wheeled mop buckets have removable wringers to make the whole device easier to clean and may have different colors available to help identify which area the bucket is intended for use. (example color coded mop buckets) If the idea was found effective I imagine a company would be happy to make a product with a different logo on the side of the buckets and sell them without the wringer attachment. The wheeled buckets have handles on the side as well as the top to make emptying them easier.

Simple solutions are most practical for busy workers. In a residential facility diabetic foot care is a regular need to help prevent small sores from going unnoticed by a patient with numbness/neuropathy and then becoming large sores. Gangrenous infections in small sores are a common cause of amputations being needed for diabetic patients. Magnesium and sulfate from the Epsom salt both have healing value for diabetic patients and people with other types of inflammatory illness. Swollen feet may be improved by regular use of topical magnesium treatments.

Ease of use for workers is important as hauling buckets or basins of water around a facility is strenuous and potentially messy and dangerous. A wheeled bucket could be easily moved, used, emptied and sanitized between uses. After a footsoak it would be easy to inspect a patient’s feet for small sores, provide any toenail maintenance that is needed and possibly give a therapeutic massage.

“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” – W. Edwards Deming

Knowing that Epsom salt baths can be extremely healing is knowledge – proving that it could be feasible to help many people in a budget friendly way is the next step. Patient care requires safety and effectiveness in order to provide a service ethically that will do no harm and which can still fit within a facility’s budget. A study that tracked groups of patients over time could look at direct symptom relief type of criteria and look at overall health statistics – were there fewer health concerns or falls or mood problems in the group receiving weekly, biweekly, or monthly Epsom salt foot-soaks in comparison to the control group who continued to receive standard care? Or a study design might compare the health parameters of the same group of patients over six months without the Epsom salt foot-soaks and then six months during which foot-soaks were provided.

A review of what little scientific research is available regarding topical magnesium concludes that magnesium containing creams have not shown good absorption. Epsom salt soaks do lead to increases in plasma magnesium levels and urinary excretion of magnesium suggesting that the magnesium sulfate salt water solution does get absorbed through the skin. (1) More research is needed however and with study subjects with chronic conditions suggesting they are magnesium deficient, excess magnesium is not needed and can be dangerous.

Staying overly long in an Epsom salt bath or foot soak could cause relaxing of smooth muscles which can cause watery diarrhea for the next day (like a stomach flu, all day problem), and more severe can cause slowing of the heart rate, bradycardia, — the point being that Epsom salt soaks are medicinal, not just for relaxing or a spa beauty treatment. When more deficient you might stay in longer before noticing more relaxing of muscles or change in heart rate and as weeks of regular soaks continue you may notice that a shorter soak is now adequate.

A typical bath is about one cup of Epsom salt to a half bathtub of water, soak for twenty minutes, 1-3 times per week. I get muscle cramps and more anxiety when I take one per week instead of two and at a more severe level of colitis like symptoms I needed three per week, and marked it on a calendar so I wouldn’t forget. Substituting a foot-soak, I probably used a half cup of Epsom salt to a large bucket size plastic bin (rather than a short basin) and left my feet and lower legs in the water for about forty minutes, until the water was cool – I was working on a computer while soaking. Chronic illness is unpleasant, improved quality of life is more pleasant.

*This will likely get some revisions/additional links. It is a continuation of the last post on TRP Channels & magnesium. Food and supplement sources of magnesium and the additional need for protein and phospholipids as carriers for intracellular supplies of magnesium is available in a previous post: To have optimal Magnesium needs Protein and Phospholipids too.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. It is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance, please seek an individual health care professional for individualized health care purposes.

  1. Gröber U, Werner T, Vormann J, Kisters K. Myth or Reality-Transdermal Magnesium?. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):813. Published 2017 Jul 28. doi:10.3390/nu9080813 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579607/
  2. various links about magnesium and PTSD or other mood or brain trauma issues https://www.google.com/search?q=PTSD+brain+changes+calcium+magnesium+imbalance&rlz=1C1CHWA_enUS600US600&oq=PTSD+brain+changes+calcium+magnesium+imbalance&aqs=chrome..69i57.13101j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Helping others is a way of life; TRP channels

“Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, then we should do it.” — Tai Situ Rinpoche


Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.

Notes & links for TRP channel enthusiasts, on chronic pain, gender differences with migraine, IBS/colitis, and the role of magnesium and TRP channels in fetal development:

The condensed version – women are more prone to migraines then men possibly due to a protective effective of testosterone. Estrogen may increase or decrease risk of migraine depending on amounts/balance with progesterone. Either way, magnesium deficiency can increase chronic pain and other TRP channel problems because it is a mineral that helps keep them closed – they are like gates in the cell membrane.

Magnesium deficiency in very early stages of pregnancy or conception can have a negative impact on development of the embryo which can cause problems with physical and/or brain growth which can affect the infant throughout life. Pumpkin seeds has been the short answer I’ve given for years (post) – they are a good source of magnesium and many other nutrients, about one to two ounces, 2-4 tablespoons per day is a healthy serving. Like many things in life too much regularly may not be as healthy. Epsom salt baths are a topical source of magnesium and sulfate which would bypass any problems with digestion making it a good source for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or colitis, both of which can be problems linked to overactive TRP channels. (More about magnesium sources.)

Stress can be a cause of overactive TRP channels in addition to the risk of changes occurring during early conception/embryological development.

Other triggers for TRP channels include hot pepper (capsaicin), vitamin D/ and curcumin (a vitamin D analog) a phytonutrient found in turmeric, the yellow spice used in curry powder, ginger, horseradish; volatile chemicals such as formaldehyde, gasoline fumes, cigarette smoke, ammonia; very cold temperatures or very hot temperatures; increased pressure such as might occur during carnival rides or from overeating a large meal or gassy meals with large servings of raw vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli. Cinnamon, mint, vanilla can also activate some types of TRP channels – there is a large variety of TRP channels and they don’t all react to the same triggers and not all types are found in the same organ systems within the body so migraines and bowel troubles may not share the same triggers, but having a place to start can be helpful instead of feeling that everything you eat or do might be a problem.

Interesting hot pepper trivia: “Although both sexes showed sensitivity to capsaicin, males required a four-fold higher dose of capsaicin than females for a similar response (Lu et al., 2009)” (ref 2)

Quotes from an excerpt of ref 1,
(https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Involvement-of-TRP-channels-in-stress-TRPV1-a-member-of-TRP-channel-is-present-in_fig2_234019431) )
Importance of TRP channels in pain:

  • Implications for stress, causal or strong correlation: “altered expression, function and/or regulation of TRPs are key changes which induce patho-physiological conditions like stress, neuropathic pain and cancer.”  
  • “TRPM2 and TRPV4 are involved in oxidative stress- induced cell death of hippocampal neurons (121).” – the hippocampus is an area involved in short term memory and is damaged early in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • “several TRPs can also be activated by estrogen, endrogen, testosterone, cortisol and many other steroids (Table 1)”– so stress could increase TRP channel activity due to inc levels of cortisol. /Speculation: Estrogen mimetics might also be over activating TRP channels./
  • Overactivating TRP channels can also cause IBS symptoms: “over-stimulation of TRPs leads to an influx of excess Ca 2+ which is generally associated with the cell death (126)”
  • “TRPV1 regulates food absorption, emesis, colitis and also regulates the gut – brain axis mainly by responding to endovanilloids and endocannabinoids (132-133).” – colitis is a more severe bowel condition than IBS, has similarities in symptoms though

Re reference 2:
Migraines are 3 times more likely to be a problem for women than men and it may be due to the sex hormone’s ability to activate TRPV1 channels https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102492/ … this info may help with developing more targeted treatments.
“migraineur women exhibited a thicker posterior insula and precuneus cortices compared to male migraineurs & the healthy controls of both sexes (Maleki et al., 2012)”
Testosterone may help protect men from migraines or as severe a migraine if they do have one. It helps modulate activity of TRPM8 channels. Over expression of TRPM8 channels “by a testosterone-mediated mechanism” is seen in prostate cancer.

Re reference 3:
Genetic differences in gene for TRPM8 channels (transient receptor potential melastatin 8) have been identified that are more common in people w migraine sensitivity. They are activated by cold temperatures and/or menthol (mint).

Re reference 4:
TRPM6 & TRPM7 channels and magnesium are known to be critical in embryological development, inc pigmentation/melanin. Mg deficiency during pregnancy can cause significant problems.
TRPM7 & magnesium also critical for dopaminergic cells/Parkinson’s disease. other embryo dev differences w Mg deficiency were seen in the gut & spine (less straight). – a review: TRPM Channels and Magnesium in Early Embryonic Development (4)

TRP channels may become overly active from stress or during fetal development. The symptoms can be difficult to notice a pattern of triggers because the TRP channels have many different ways of being activated. See the G3 excerpt in this document for more details, Child Trauma, Possible Relationship or Chronic Physical Symptoms as an Adult – or for a more condensed version see the graphic below.

“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” ~ Blaise Pascal

Things that may overstimulate TRP channels.

“Well begun is half done.” – Aristotle

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. It is not intended to provide individual health care guidance. Please seek a health care professional for individualized health care guidance.


  1. Kumar, Ashutosh & Goswami, Luna & Goswami, Chandan. (2013). Importance of TRP channels in pain: Implications for stress. Frontiers in bioscience (Scholar edition). S5. 19-38. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234019431_Importance_of_TRP_channels_in_pain_Implications_for_stress
  2. Artero-Morales M, González-Rodríguez S, Ferrer-Montiel A. TRP Channels as Potential Targets for Sex-Related Differences in Migraine Pain. Front Mol Biosci. 2018;5:73. Published 2018 Aug 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6102492/doi:10.3389/fmolb.2018.00073 Interesting hot pepper trivia: “Although both sexes showed sensitivity to capsaicin, males required a four-fold higher dose of capsaicin than females for a similar response (Lu et al., 2009)
  3. Dussor G, Cao YQ. TRPM8 and Migraine. Headache. 2016;56(9):1406-1417. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5335856/
  4. Komiya Y, Runnels LW. TRPM channels and magnesium in early embryonic development. Int J Dev Biol. 2015;59(7-9):281-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685952/

Know where to look

What I learned in college is that knowing where to look something up for more detail is the critical skill to learn. Knowledge is fluid, as more is learned some of the old information is confirmed and some is modified or found to be inaccurate.

” I am not young enough to know everything.” – Oscar Wilde

The older you get the more you realize how little you know in relation to what is known and what has yet to be discovered or clarified.

Librarians and social workers are skilled at knowing where to look for more information or who to ask about resources that might be available.

Public health education involves some social work and librarian skills – no one can know everything but a public health educator tries to have access to more information about many things.

Taking note of where information is located and remembering where you left the note is a skill that librarians excel at – having a file system on paper, or virtually, can also help organize your memories. Do you file information by categories or alphabetical order or by Dewey Decimal system?

A description of working memory, short term memory skills for every day activities, is available by ADDitude, a magazine site focused on Attention Deficit Disorder: Improve Working Memory. It includes tips for tasks like improving your ability to remember where you put your keys or that you have an appointment scheduled. My own tendency to lose my car keys led me to develop the habit of only putting them in a few places, my purse or right hand pocket, and also a habit of checking that they are there in the pocket every time I go through the door to leave a building. Not trying to multitask is a tip that may help most people concentrate better as research suggests that it uses more energy to keep switching back and forth between tasks. (PsychologyToday/multitasking)

For long term memory building, writing notes down in physical handwriting also seems to help fix the memory in our long term storage better even if we don’t look at the note again. (PsychologicalScience/note taking) I have gotten better at using the typewritten note taking ability of this blog site because it has a search capacity. As long as I remember key words that I used I can usually find where I had written something. Learning is more likely to be retained if the information is reviewed occasionally, and in order to review it occasionally you need to be able to find it again. The internet is a big place, I like to leave myself a trail of bread crumbs to help me navigate.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use.