Forget Calgon: Epsom Salt…Take Me Away!

Now THAT was a dated reference. If you didn’t already figure out my age, you now have a clue, huh?! The classic 80s commercial hilariously captures a woman in the most hectic part of her day, pleading for the famous soap to “take her away,” which it does in the next scene as she luxuriously bathes (behind a major camera filter) in a deep tub of bubbles. Women have been quoting that commercial for years, so I guess it did resonate back in the 80s and obviously still does, although I have no idea if they still make Calgon or not. Anyone know?

I would like to make the Calgon case for another, less expensive, and all-natural bath product, whose benefits harken back to the 1800s: epsom salt. I’ll be honest; we are not big bath takers at my house. We are shower people…who has time for baths anymore? But when my son was having asthma issues and our doctor suggested epsom salt baths, we were ready to try anything.

When I purchased the epsom salts, which you can get at any grocery store or drug store/pharmacy, I couldn’t believe the bag only cost a few bucks! As much as we spend on allergy and asthma meds, this was a welcomed surprise. We got the bag home and started reading the directions and became confused right away. It was telling us to use it for constipation! I continued to study the bag and realized that some people apparently drink it for that issue, and was quite relieved that a bath in it would NOT produce a laxative effect. That would have been…unfortunate.

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Fortunately, it couldn’t be simpler. All you do is pour in a cup or so in a running bath and then soak in it for 10 minutes or how ever long you can. The magic ingredient is magnesium. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory that helps basically everything. Muscle soreness, pain of most any kind, and most important for us, airway inflammation. You can feel it working and it is a fantastic sensation. I feel it in my feet the most, so I guess the ol’ dogs are barking more than I realized at the end of the day. It relaxes you and when you get out, you will breathe better and any muscle soreness will be relieved. If you have pain in your neck or shoulder or somewhere the bath can’t reach, you can also soak a washcloth in the solution and apply it several times to the sore area. My son loves one of these baths after rough football practices and games; it helps his breathing and his bruised and battered body. Football players are crazy, no?! But I love ’em.

If you haven’t given it a try, see what you think. You can take magnesium in pill form if don’t have time for a bath, but if you do have time, there’s nothing more relaxing than soaking in epsom salt. You can get peppermint scented, lavender scented, or unscented. I either get unscented (strong scents can trigger our asthma) and add a bit of Aveeno lavender bubble bath (the lavender helps with sleep, too), or the peppermint, which is lightly scented and refreshing. And just to be clear: it’s not just for athletes battling and beating asthma — it works great for everyone!

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I usually use the store brand, but who knew? Calgon Epsom Salt! Take Me Away…

Click here for more epsom salt info from the Epsom Salt Council!

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Breathing Easier With Supplements

The news story that came out this week about the faux vitamins at Wal Mart, Target, and other stores was a real bummer. While I believe that supplements do have health benefits, I feel that this situation only adds fuel to the skeptics’ fire…not to mention how much I loved saving money by buying store brands, since we spend a small fortune on other medications. Oh well, I guess that strategy’s shot.

If you missed it- http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/03/news/herbal-supplements-walmart-target/

Insurance does not cover these over-the-counter meds but we use quite a bit of them and they add up quickly. Generic prescriptions have helped the bank account tremendously; I was thrilled when a generic Singulair became available, but now I wonder what is in there. I believe that the medicine is in there, because it helps us, but what else is there? I’ve known for many years that brand-name drugs are “cleaner” than their generic forms. In the past, I’ve had prescription medications that I could not take in generic because of side effects, but insurance will only cover the generic. Sigh. It’s a real dilemma. Sometimes it feels like you can’t win. Who am I kidding, with insurance companies, you definitely can’t.

I look for coupons and use them whenever possible. My wonderful pharmacists at Target often find coupons for me, which I think is so kind. Always do an internet search before you shop for the brand names. I have found them for Advair, Culturelle, Nasonex, and Flonase. I’m sure there are more out there — which ones have you found?

We take or have taken probiotics, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin C. We have been told by our doctor when to take which ones and why they will help us, except for vitamin C, which I added because of overwhelmingly positive anecdotal evidence. Ask your doctor if these supplements might be right for your athlete. 

Probiotics

So much research shows that wellness rests within the gut. Our good bacteria has been destroyed by processed diets and food additives, so we need to replace that good bacteria to help our immune systems. This medicine helps with digestion, as well. I can’t say enough good things about these wonder pills. We use Culturelle because they have no gluten or dairy. Anything that will help keep my athlete from getting sick is good stuff to me. A simple cold for an asthma sufferer is not simple at all. It can keep him out of school, out of practices and games, and turn into bronchitis quickly. Check with your doctor to see if these might be helpful to your athlete.

More info — http://www.livingwithasthma.net/asthma-and-probiotics-whats-the-real-story/

Magnesium

My athlete has taken this in pill form, as well as in Epsom salt baths. This remedy helps with…well, just about everything. Magnesium helps inflammation, whether it be sore muscles or inflamed airways. After an intense football practice or game, nothing feels better for my athlete than taking an Epsom salt bath. It is super cheap, you can find it at any drugstore, and I pour in a little Aveeno bubble bath to make it smell nice but not too strong…we’re trying to help the asthma, not trigger it! The pill form works well, too, if you don’t have time for a bath. Check with your doctor to see if this would help your athlete.

More info — http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/asthma

Vitamin D

Apparently, many of us are now deficient in vitamin D because we don’t go outside enough. That’s pretty sad, isn’t it? This supplement is especially helpful during the winter, when the sun isn’t out as much and we stay in to avoid the cold. Among many other things, vitamin D also helps with inflammation. Check with your doctor to see if this supplement would help your athlete.

More info — http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

Vitamin C

This last one I have adopted as part of our winter routine. My husband is on airplanes a lot and has found Airborne/EmergenC to be somewhat effective in helping him stay well. It may not keep you from catching a cold, but it can help lessen the severity and the duration. I recently found Airborne gummies, which taste delicious and you can take up to 3 times a day. The past couple of weeks, my husband and I (and most people I know!) have both been sick with throat infections and cold and sinus problems. I started taking the gummies when I got sick with a second round and so far, I have not had to go back to the doctor or had to get back on antibiotics. My son caught it last week, started the gummies immediately, twice a day, and over the weekend, got better and never had to go to the doctor. Can I prove it was the gummies? No. But it’s can’t hurt, as long as we follow the dosage requirements, so I’ll keep doing it.

More info — http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm

What supplements does your athlete take? What have you tried that hasn’t worked? I quit taking the Magnesium pills daily because I couldn’t tell a difference, but I swear by those Epsom salt baths. You will feel so good afterwards. I hope this information helps you with your athlete; as noted ad nauseum above, please check with your doctor before starting any new supplements. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. I am, however, a mom and a writer with mad internet research skills, and I’m not afraid to use them to help my athlete beat asthma.

Play hard, work hard, and stay well!

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