Health: Soup up your soak with healing power of salts

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Soak up the wonders of the humble bath salt. Abi Jackson on the goodness of minerals.

A high priority has always been given to wellbeing, but it’s also become a buzzword and a flourishing industry surrounds it.

Yet some of the most effective methods promoting good wellbeing have been around for years.

Nature offers countless ways of harnessing the earth’s goodness for our benefit, and mineral-packed salts are a fine example.

When the Peng-tzao Kang-mu was published in China in the year 2,700 BC, the earliest pharmacology book on record, it contained a significant chunk on salts. The Romans were also fans of their healing properties, while Cleopatra favoured indulgent soaks in water from the Dead Sea.

Today, salts from around the globe are readily available and adding them to a bath could super-charge your soak.

“Salts are a complete part of my everyday life,” says Penny Hamilton, brand development manager at Westlab.

“My household uses Dead Sea the most, as I use it for my children’s dry skin, and my husband loves mixing it with his shampoo to keep his scalp fresh and help remove hair products. I bathe in our Epsom or Himalayan at least twice a week to keep me feeling healthy and energised.”

It was their children’s eczema and asthma which led Penny and her school friend Scott Livingston to launch Westlab, which imports and produces a range of Epsom, Himalayan and Dead Sea salts, in 2004.

In the last three years, the company’s seen more than 125 per cent growth year-on-year as the sector booms.

The modest Epsom salt has even been given the celebrity seal of approval, with A-listers like Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham using them.

“They have gone from being something your granny used to soak her feet in, to a wonder product,” Penny said.

“Plus, with everyone being much more conscious of health and exercise right now, they are also becoming a household staple for people to use after sports or the gym.”

When it comes to post-exercise relief, the magic ingredient in salts is magnesium. After a workout, restoring magnesium - which can be absorbed via skin through a salt-rich soak - can help minimise inflammation and speed up recovery.

“The key to salt bathing is that the salts are rich in minerals, especially magnesium. We are very selective of where we source our salts, so that they have high magnesium content,” explains Penny.

Similarly, these minerals can promote physical and mental relaxation, thereby aiding a good night’s sleep.

Maxine Bath, spa manager for Dead Sea Spa Magik, added: “The bromine element is also a popular 19th and early-20th century sedative which has a unique relaxing effect on muscles and nerves, which is why they are good for winding down. They create a wonderful relaxation sensation.

“The bromides, magnesium and potassium minerals in the salts are also remarkable in improving skin texture. For centuries, people from all over the world have journeyed to the Dead Sea to benefit from the therapeutic effects of its mineral crystals.”

Tim Marshall has travelled the world covering foreign affairs for Sky News.

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