Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) is a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate. It has a long history of therapeutic use after first being discovered in a bitter spring at Epsom in Surrey, UK.
Epsom salts for horses are an effective way of relaxing sore, tired muscles when applied externally. Epsom salts are absorbed through the skin and support toxin removal from the body, relax the muscles and support the nervous system.
Epsom salts, as a feed supplement, are an old-fashioned but effective way to support good gut function in dehydrated horses who have been ill or worked very hard. The salts draw water into the gut, supporting gut passage.
Epsom salts contain:
Epsom salts for horses uses:
- Relax muscles
- Draw water into the gut
- Soak abscesses on lower legs and feet
- Support toxin removal
To regulate droppings: add a handful to a warm bran mash. Useful for exhausted horses to help keep the gut moving
As a compress:dissolve two cups in 4.5 litres of warm water. Soak a clean towel in the solution, then wrap around the injured area
Leg or hoof treatment: dissolve salts in hot water until saturated and no more salt will dissolve. Cool until hand hot then soak foot in bucket for up to 30 minutes
Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) Magnesium sulphate heptahydrate, chemically pure FCC grade
A feed material for horses. Store in a cool, dry place.
Epsom salts is the commonly-used name for the chemical compound magnesium sulphate, sometimes spelled magnesium sulfate - made from magnesium, sulphur and oxygen. It is so-called as it was originally identified in Epsom, in Surrey.
Many people will know the name epsom salts as a main ingredient for bath salts. Epsom salts are also often used as a foot soak for humans. But the benefits that people derive from soaking their feet to reduce soreness and tiredness can also be enjoyed by horses.
Epsom salts for horses can be used externally - an epsom salts poultice for horses can be applied to a horse's hoof. A poultice may be easier than soaking the hoof as the horse does not need to stand still in water if the poultice is applied.
When magnesium sulphate is absorbed through the skin it supports toxin removal from the body and relaxes the muscles.
It is the magnesium content of epsom salts which makes it such an excellent muscle relaxant. One way in which some owners have used epsom salts for horses to soothe muscle soreness is to add two cups of epsom salts to a bucket of warm water and then soak towels in the mixture. Wring the towels out so they are not dripping and drape them over the sore area. Some magnesium will be absorbed by the horse’s skin - especially if extra heat is applied - and there will be a relaxing effect on the sore muscles.
For a homemade poultice, add hot water to a cup of epsom salts to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area and wrap it up well.
Vets sometimes use epsom salts for horses because it has a very strong laxative effect. It draws water into the gut helping dehydrated horses with dried-out impacted gut contents. Your vet may accompany this with intravenous (IV) fluid administration .
Claims for magnesium sulphate
- Readily absorbed through the skin
- Pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory effects
- Spasm and bronchoconstriction-relieving effects
- Believed to soothe mind, body and soul
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Cures skin problems and heals cuts
- Treats colds and congestion
- Soothes aches and pains
- Eases muscle strain
- Boosts insulin sensitivity
- Relieves constipation (in humans - with medical advice only)
- Draws splinters
Therapeutic use (human)
Magnesium sulphate has been traditionally used as a soak - in the bath, or in a tub for the hands or feet. It is absorbed through the skin, and is believed to act as an anti-inflammatory, reducing pain (via brain pain receptors). A magnesium sulphate bath is a safe and easy way to increase both magnesium and sulphate levels in the body.
It should be used in the bath two to three times per week. Ideally, a concentration of 1% is used, which is equivalent to 600 g in a 60 litre bath (or 500 g in a 50 litre bath). Soap should not be used, because it interferes with the action of the magnesium sulphate.
Magnesium sulphate can also be used as a compress – 2 cups (i.e. 500 ml volume) are soaked in 4.5 litres of warm water, into which a towel is soaked before being wrung gently and wrapped around the injured body part.
Magnesium sulphate is believed to soothe sore muscles after athletic endeavour or hard work. It can be used in the bath or as a compress for this purpose.