Epsom salt’s main component is magnesium sulfate (MgSO4). It is harvested from the springs that arise where the porous chalk of the North Downs meets non-porous London clay. It is named after an English town, “Epsom” in Surrey, England, from which this salt originates.
Epsom salt is traditionally used as a bath salt. It has many beneficial properties, such as relieving muscle aches/pains, insect bug bites, sunburns, replenishing youthful skin and detoxification. The detoxification property of Epsom salt is what we are most interested about here for children with ADHD and/or autism.
The chemical symbol of magnesium sulfate is MgSO4. Thus, it contains one molecule of magnesium, one molecule of sulfur and 4 molecules of oxygen. When it dissolves in water, it dissociates into an positive ion magnesium (Mg+) and a negative ion of sulfate (SO4-).
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Sulfate is needed in the phase 2 liver detoxification process for sulfuration. Phenol-sulfotransferase (PST) detoxifies excess hormones, phenols, amines, and toxins produced by intestinal yeast. It facilitates the transfer of sulfate molecule from sulfate-donor to phenol compounds, resulting in a soluble complex that can easily be excreted by the kidneys.
Sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine, methionine and taurine are major sulfur-donors in the body. However, children with ADHD are thought to have suboptimal phenol-sulfurotransferase system due to inadequate sulfate intake. Because of this limitation, the body cannot eliminate toxins efficiently.
Furthermore, heavy metals, such as mercury, lead and cadmium from the environment attach to the sulfur group of protein, inhibiting the release of sulfate from the amino acid complex.
Phenols occur naturally in many of our common foods, such as bioflavonoids, carotenoids (carotene, lutein, lycopene, xanthophylls, and zeaxanthin), phytoestrogen (estrogen-like substances in plants) and salicylates (salts of aspirin) in our colorful fruits and vegetables. Yeasts or candida in the intestines also produce phenol.
The inadequate intake of sulfur-containing amino acids, excessive overload of heavy metals, and excessive intake of dietary phenols, phytoestrogen and salicylates work together to sabotage the phenol-sulfotransferase system. Thus, toxic compounds build up in the system resulting in the notorious ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity, lack of focus, irritability, aggression, etc.
Symptoms of PST or sulfate deficiency include reddened ears, hyperactivity, inappropriate laughter, night sweats, dark circles under eyes, excessive thirst, aggressive behaviors, head-banging, eczema, facial flushing, and trouble falling to sleep, disturbed sleep and odorous bed-clothes.
Diets limited in salicylates and phytoestrogen,such as Feingold diet, and diets that eliminates intestinal yeast overgrowth, such as Body Ecology diet or Specific Carbohydrate diet, may reduce the workload on the already suppressed PST enzyme.
FOOD SOURCES OF SULFATE
Remember. Source of sulfate for PST is sulfur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine, methionine, and taurine. My suggestion would be a healthy balanced diet with high biological value animal protein, such as animal protein. Besides, children with ADHD need to start the day with a good high protein breakfast. If you are looking for a source of sulfate, you will be disappointed because sulfate is found mostly in processed foods as additives.
Sulfur is poorly absorbed orally as supplement. The best route to supplement sulfate is with Epsom salt bath. The magnesium sulfate salt in Epsom dissolves into a solution, and is readily absorbed into the body through the skin.
HOW TO USE THE SALT?
Most people do a bath or foot soak. But I make a topical paste that works wonderfully. It saves time, energy and water. Best of all, my daughter stops having that funny smell when she sweats, and wakes up in the morning.
Simply dissolve about a 1 teaspoon of the salt with about 1 teaspoon of water enough to dissolve most of the salt. As the salt dissolves, you’ll notice the water thickens slightly. It’s okay if not all the salt is dissolved. It just means that solution is saturated with Epsom salt.
Now you can apply this solution onto the skin with a make-up brush or cotton balls. I usually do this on my daughter’s legs right before she goes to bed. It is best to do this at bedtime, I have a parent who told me that the Epsom salt makes his son sleepy. This is because magnesium helps calm the ADHD brain.
You will notice a thin layer of white salt on the skin as the water evaporates. The salt will continue to be absorbed as long as it stays in contact with the skin. You can leave that on, because the salt usually gets rubbed off during the night. The sulfate is thought to circulate in the body up to about nine hours.
If you prefers the good old Epsom salt bath, simply fill a bath tub with hot water and add 2 cups of Epsom salt. You may also add 1 cup of baking soda and some lavender oil for additional soothing effects. Soak for about 20 minutes.
You may read to your child during this time. Be sure to not leave little children unattended in the bath tub filled with water. The bath is best taken prior to bed time at night to wind down.
Some children may become agitated after taking Epsom salt bath. It is suggested that you start the bath with 1/4 cup of Epsom salt first, and then slowly increase over several weeks.
People frequently have the misconception that toxins are being drawn out of the skin pores into the bath water. Soaking in the salt bath, allows the body to absorb the magnesium and sulfate through the skin into the body’s detoxification system.
Besides a full bath, you can also do a foot bath for 15 minutes while doing homework or reading. Of course, you’ll save a lot of water and use a lot less salt.