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Epsom salts: The history

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Many great “eureka” moments take place in the bathtub. Ross Edwards was soaking in a bath of Epsom salts, a therapy designed to help him deal with a chronic injury that had plagued him over several years, when an idea suddenly hit him. He realized that the water in the bath was diluting the Epsom salts. If his therapeutic bath was to be effective, the salts would have to be delivered in a more concentrated form to serve as an effective pain reliever. “I began thinking about what would happen if you concentrated Epsom salts in some kind of a gel,” he said.

Edwards got to work in his kitchen and made a prototype of his idea, developing a number of formulations and testing them on himself. “I was quite amazed with the results. I could sit in an Epsom salt bath all day and it would do nothing for me, but in concentrated doses it really did provide a lot of pain relief.”

Edwards wasn’t the first person to experiment with magnesium sulfate heptahydrate, a soft, naturally occurring mineral often associated with limestone caves and natural springs. In 1618 a local farmer in Epsom, a small town south of London, England, noticed that his cows refused to drink from a small pool on his land. He also noticed that wounds on his cows’ bodies seems to heal faster when they bathed in the salty water. He was curious to know why. The water tasted bitter, and the farmer soon discovered that when it evaporated it left behind a salt that contained medicinal properties.

Dubbed Epsom salts after the location where they were found and produced, the chemical compound quickly gained a reputation across England and beyond as a beauty aid, and even a powerful laxative. But, as the treatment became more popular, users began to notice they were an effective for a myriad of other things as well: as a curative for everything from the painful symptoms of gout and sore muscles to a promoter of wound healing. By the end of the 17th century, Epsom had become a popular English spa town as well-heeled patients suffering from gout and other issues made the trip to relax in the natural hot springs. The town also began exporting the dried salt product around the world.

More than 400 years after their discovery, Epsom salts are now well known worldwide as a pain reliever for sore joints. But the product has changed a little since their discovery in 1618, as Epsomgel takes this proven curative to the next level.

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