If you have a swollen or cramped finger, relief may be a 10-minute soak away. According to Duane Law, L.Ac., a holistic healthcare practitioner and owner of NaturalStressCare.org, soaking your inflamed finger in epsom salt, the common name for magnesium sulphate, is a quick and easy way to reduce swelling and pain and even fight infection. You can purchase inexpensive epsom salt packages in a variety of sizes, ranging from 1 lb. to 1 gallon, at your local drugstore or grocery store.
How to Soak a Finger in Epsom Salt
Find a container large enough to fully immerse and rest your finger or hand comfortably. Prepare the soak by dissolving ½ cup epsom salt in a quart of water. Law suggests heating the water in a tea kettle, but you can also use a pot on the stove or a container in the microwave. Take care not to overheat the water. The water should be as warm as is comfortable for you. Stir to fully dissolve the epsom salt in the water.
Your soak should last only 6 to 10 minutes, and you can repeat several times each day. Frequency is more important than duration when it comes to effective epsom salt soaks.
If you have certain types of infections, such as staph or fungal, you could make your condition worse by soaking your finger in hot water, according to Law. So if you do not feel relief within an hour or two of soaking your finger, or if your finger becomes red or extremely irritated, consult a doctor right away. Also, people with diabetes should not use hot or warm soaks unless under the advice of a physician.
If your epsom salt soak works for your finger, you might want to try it as a bath additive. According to the Epsom Salt Council, the mineral is not only beneficial in treating swelling, bruising and sore muscles, but it also helps those with bronchial asthma, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia. The Council says that "magnesium--the second-most abundant element in human cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body--performs more functions in more systems of the human body than virtually any other mineral."
To use it as a bath additive, which is a more effective way to absorb the magnesium than by ingesting it, simply dissolve 2 cups of epsom salt into your bath. To use as a laxative, stir 2 to 4 level tsp. in a full glass of water (for those 12 and older) and 1 to 2 tsp. per glass of water for those ages 6 to 12, then drink.