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Magnesium sulphate paste is usually applied as a "drawing ointment" for boils, carbuncles, and other skin infections. However, there are many other applications for this versatile, natural remedy.

Magnesium sulphate paste is a popular, old-fashioned remedy for infections of the skin. Usually applied to boils and carbuncles, the cooling, white paste helps the skin heal so it pushes areas of infection up and out. Healing skin infections, however, is just one of many uses for this versatile product.

What Is Magnesium Sulphate Paste?

Magnesium sulphate is the chemical name for Epsom salts, an inexpensive product added to warm water for soaking, warm, healing, baths. The paste combines finely ground Epsom salts with water and glycerin, to make the product smooth, and phenol, to prevent a growth of bacteria.[1]

How Does Magnesium Sulphate Heal Skin Infections?

Magnesium sulphate paste is not, as some have suggested, a homeopathic preparation. It is a natural mineral product. Magnesium sulphate was first mined on a commercial scale near the town of Epsom, in England, where springs bubble through chalk hills into thick clay. The magnesium sulphate sticks to the clay and is easily scraped away in a nearly pure form. Modern magnesium sulphate products, of course, are made with purified salts.

The way magnesium sulphate heals the skin is by forming a "second skin" that allows injured tissue beneath it to heal. The mineral absorbs water.

It stays moist. It keeps the skin from drying out and forming crusts, but it also pulls moisture out of the skin, just enough to make the skin "pop" to release pus and dead tissue trapped inside.

More than just opening the skin, magnesium sulphate pastes also stimulate circulation in the skin. Tiny, almost invisible capillaries carry more blood and deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the skin. At the same time the paste is helping the skin get rid of the infection, it promotes formation of new healthy tissue. These qualities have made the product extremely popular for simple treatments of boils and carbuncles.

Health practitioners all around the world have found some astonishing applications for magnesium sulphate paste. In India, the product is used to stimulate healing of the skin after cobra bites.[2]

Cuts and abrasions heal more quickly with magnesium sulphate pastes because of the stimulation of collagen.[3

The product has been used to treat dry skin caused by hyperthyroidism.[1]

Skin care, however, is just one of many applications of magnesium sulphate paste.

Magnesium Sulphate Pastes Can Ease Anxiety

Many of us would like to take a long, leisurely soak in the tub, but we just don't have time. Using magnesium sulphate paste is the next best thing. Water flows out of the skin into the magnesium sulphate paste, but magnesium also flows into the skin and into the body.

Magnesium is essential for normal function of the central nervous system, and it is when we are at our busiest, leading hectic lives, that we don't eat enough of the leafy greens that provide dietary magnesium. Using a magnesium sulphate paste provides the body with the calming mangesium it needs to regulate the nervous system, reducing anxiety, and making it easier to sleep.

Other Surprising Applications of Magnesium Sulphate Paste

There are even more applications for magnesium sulphate paste.

Magnesium Sulphate Pastes Relieve Allergies and Asthma

Part of the problem in asthma and hay fever is the hair-trigger reactivity of the nervous system in the nose, throat, and lungs. Magnesium slows down nerve impulses, and reduces the speed and severity of allergic reactions. Magnesium sulphate pastes will not cure allergies or asthma, but they usually make the symptoms a lot more bearable.

Magnesium Sulphate Pastes May Help Improve Attention Deficit Disorders

In ADD and ADHD, the brain is so active that nucleus acumbens, the "conductor" of brain traffic, becomes overwhelmed by impulses. It can't sort out input into the brain so that the most important information is acted upon. Magnesium helps the brain regulate its "speed limit" and relieves some of the symptoms of attention deficit and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.

Magnesium from magnesium sulphate pastes and magnesium from supplements are even more helpful for ADD and ADHD when they are combined with low-dose vitamin B6.

Just the recommended daily intake (RDI) is enough. A French study found that combining magnesium and vitamin B6 helped school children reduce repetitive behaviors, improve language skills, and improve social interaction, although different children respond to this intervention in different degrees.[4]

Magnesium Sulphate Pastes May Help in Preventing Breast Cancer in Women

In the United States, most women who have passed menopause get on average just 115 mg of magnesium from their diets, far less than the 300 mg minimum recommended for prevention deficiencies. At the same time, many women take supplemental calcium to stop bone loss and osteoporosis.

The ratio of magnesium to calcium in the diet turns out to be an important predictor in whether or not women get breast cancer. The higher the ratio, the lower the risk. Magnesium sulphate pastes help women get the magnesium they need to offset the calcium in their diets, particularly if they are consuming extra dairy products or taking calcium for bone health.[5]

Magnesium Sulphate Pastes May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

One of the ways the body deals with high blood pressure is insulin resistance, a phenomenon that slowly but surely leads to type 2 diabetes. If you stop the high blood pressure, you may also stop diabetes. Using magnesium sulphate pastes may not lower blood pressure a lot, but the magnesium they provide may be just what your body needs to lower blood pressure, stop diabetes, and prevent its complications, such as diabetic retinopathy and cardiovascular disease.[6]

How do you use magnesium sulphate pastes for all of these interventions? It's very simple. As a hair care cream commercial in the United States used to say, "A little dab'll do you."

Just spread mangesium sulphate past over a small area of skin, say 2 inches by 2 inches (5 cm x 5 cm) on a part of your body where it will not stain clothing or be otherwise noticeable, allow it to dry, and go about your business for the day. Rinse it away the next time you shower. Your body will get a boost from the magnesium your skin absorbs, without any risk of diarrhea that can be caused by magnesium supplements (because the mineral never passes through your digestive tract), and slowly but surely you are likely to feel better.

There is just one more thing you need to know about magnesium sulphate paste. When you are using it to treat skin infections, wash your hands before and after application. You don't want to spread the infection, particularly to your eyes, and you don't want to dip your fingers back into a jar after touching your skin without washing them first.

Common side effects of magnesium sulfate are diarrhea and upset stomach. However, if you experience any of the following serious side effects, you should contact your health provider right away:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction (rash; hives; itching; breathing difficulties; chest tightness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue)
  • Dizziness, flushing, or faintness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle paralysis or muscle weakness
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Sweating
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