You’re practicing some self-care and decide to take an epsom salt bath. But it leaves you feeling a little light-headed. If you’re wondering if it’s normal to feel weird after an epsom salt bath, the answer is a little complicated. It could be totally normal, but there could also be some red flags for your health.
This article is going to walk you through examining your symptoms to determine whether your “weird” feeling is just a normal symptom or if there could be something else going on, plus 5 ways to NOT feel weird after your epsom salt bath!
Feel Weird After Epsom Salt Bath? Here’s Why
Epsom salts scientific name is magnesium sulfate. It is a form of magnesium that can be used both internally, as a laxative, and externally on the skin, both as a laxative and to relax sore muscles.
Magnesium is a great mineral and it has many benefits. According to Healthline:
[Magnesium] is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes and many other important bodily functions — from producing energy to building important proteins like your DNA.
In fact, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, and your body can’t function without it. Its benefits range from reducing blood pressure, increasing mood, relaxing muscles, and benefiting blood sugar levels. But as many as 50% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium.
Most people don’t experience any side-effects with magnesium, but some experience some symptoms discussed below.
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Symptoms You Might Feel After Epsom Salt Bath
If you’re asking “why do I feel weak after an epsom salt bath?”, it’s the magnesium in epsom salt baths that can give us that funny feeling. If your body has absorbed too much magnesium, you may experience symptoms like:
- feeling tired
- feeling weak
- facial flushing
- moderate diarrhea
- muscle weakness
- stomach cramps
These can be potential signs of a magnesium overdose. (Note that magnesium sulfate, the kind of magnesium found in epsom salts, are not as likely to cause overdose.)
You may also be dehydrated by your epsom salt bath. There is some overlap with symptoms of dehydration as well, which can cause things like:
More Severe Symptoms
Some more severe symptoms of magnesium overdose are:
- irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
- low blood pressure
- breathing difficulties
More severe symptoms of dehydration are:
- extreme diarrhea
Drug Interactions and Things to Look Out For
People with kidney issues, those taking medications, or those taking diuretics will need to check with their doctor before using magnesium.
The bottom line is that if you feel your symptoms aren’t normal, it’s always best to see a doctor.
How to Not Feel Weird After an Epsom Salt Bath
1. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your bath
Because magnesium is a laxative, it can draw water out of our bodies and into our colon, making us need to use the bathroom. Magnesium also has some contraindications with diuretics.
Not only this, as discussed in #3 below, hot water can also make you sweat, which can also dehydrate you. Dehydration can lead to symptoms like dizziness, light-headedness and feeling tired after an epsom salt bath, and is caused by not having enough water in your system.
The way to counter this is by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your bath. Even as small of a glass as 8 ounces of water before, and 8-16 ounces after your bath may be enough.
Remember, our bodies need half our body weight (in pounds) in water per day (in ounces). Then you need more water when you exercise or sweat. So a person who weighs 150 pounds will generally need a minimum of 75 ounces per day, plus extra when they exercise or do something that causes sweating (like a bath).
2. Don’t add too much epsom salts
The more epsom salts you add to your bath, the more magnesium is there to be absorbed by the skin. And the more magnesium, the greater chance of some of the symptoms mentioned above.
Remember, while magnesium is a good mineral, too much of it can cause some of those unwanted side-effects like lethargy or muscle weakness.
Traditional epsom salts recommend you use 1 to 2 cups of epsom salts. This may be too much.
You may want to start with 1/4 cup of epsom salt to a standard sized bath. If you have a larger sized tub, you can start at 1/2 cup. Then you can increase the amount with each bath until you reach a good balance of epsom salts that gives you the desired result without making you feel funny, light-headed, or tired.
3. Don’t make the water so hot
The combination of epsom salt with hot water can exacerbate the “weird” feeling you get after your bath.
Water that is too hot can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. This happens when we are exposed to something that raises our body temperature. A bath should not raise our body temperature more than a couple degrees, and not higher than 100 degrees.
Try to take a lukewarm bath, or take a shorter, semi-hot bath followed by a cold shower.
That “weird” feeling you experience may be simply due to water that is too hot.
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4. Don’t drink alcohol or coffee before or during your bath
Both alcohol and caffeine are known diuretics. This means that they flush sodium and water from your body. This can potentially dehydrate you, which, as you know from the section above, can be a huge problem.
Coffee itself requires consumption in higher amounts, about 2-3 cups of coffee without prolonged use, before having fluid imbalance symptoms. Still, some people are much more sensitive to caffeine and experience heart palpitations or a jittery feeling. If you know that you are more sensitive to caffeine, you may want to forego the coffee or tea before a bath.
Alcohol can dehydrate you at a much faster rate. The combination between hot water, magnesium, and alcohol can dehydrate you very quickly. Even though you may want to drink a glass of wine and relax in an epsom salt bath, the combination may prove incredibly unhealthy for you.
5. Drink an electrolyte drink
Another way to counter the potential dehydration that could occur with a hot epsom salt bath is by drinking or eating something high in electrolytes. This is why athletes drink Gatorade during their sporting events.
Electrolyte minerals include: sodium (salt), potassium, chloride, and sometimes calcium and magnesium. These minerals help our bodies maintain a proper balance of water. So unlike alcohol above, when you consume something with electrolytes in it, this can help you maintain hydration.
As tempted as you might be to down a Gatorade before your bath, I caution you. Gatorade and other sports drinks are designed for, you guessed it: SPORTS! These drinks have a high amount of sugar, often in the form of high fructose corn syrup. They’re made for people who will be burning high amounts of calories. (You’re probably not going to burn a lot of calories hanging out in a bath for 30 minutes.)
Instead, opt for something like coconut water. It has a naturally high electrolyte balance and has a lot fewer carbohydrates than your traditional sports drinks.
Conclusion: Why You Feel Weird After Epsom Salt Bath
If you’re experiencing something like feeling tired after an epsom salt bath, or feeling a little light-headed, it could be totally normal and you just need to make a few adjustments to the next time you take an epsom salt bath.
But if you feel like your symptoms are more serious, like having heart-palpitations after an epsom salt bath, or having extreme diarrhea after your epsom salt bath, these are not normal and are on the more severe symptom list, so please make sure you talk with your doctor. Don’t take a gamble with your health!