Many people suffer from kidney stones at some point in their lives. They can cause extreme pain, especially when they pass through a body's system via urination. Some people believe that epsom salt can prevent and treat kidney stones.
Kidney stones are formed by substances in urine that form into crystallised masses (or stones) in the kidney. This is most often caused by dehydration, which lowers the amount of liquid in the bladder and makes the substances that form stones more likely to combine. Kidney stones are often made of calcium.
The most common treatment is to drink six to eight glasses of water a day to produce enough urine to flush the stone through the urinary system. The pain of passing a stone in this way can be so severe that painkillers may be necessary. In extreme cases, hospitalisation is required. Most kidney stone operations now involve breaking the stone up with shock waves so a patient can pass the pieces on his own. Epsom salt may be an alternative treatment for smaller kidney stones.
Epsom salt, or magnesium sulphate, is named after the town of Epsom & Ewell in England, where the mineral was first popularly used. Epsom salt is often added to bath water and has long been thought to ease physical aches and pains, as well as to offer exfoliating properties, though these benefits have not been scientifically proven.
Some physicians have theorised that calcium-based kidney stones may be caused by a lack of magnesium in the urine. Epsom salt is primarily magnesium, leading to the theory that ingesting it can increase the level of magnesium in urine. Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin, which can help prevent calcium-based kidney stones and may, in some cases, decrease the size of already-formed stones. However, these benefits have not been verified by scientific sources.
While there are many benefits of taking daily magnesium supplements, such as relief of muscle pain and stress, taking too much can cause a number of kidney problems, severe fatigue and depression. As with any supplement, consult your doctor before taking magnesium.