"Get the Epsom
by N. Ray Maxie
This Kids Got Dew Poisoning"
of the past four or five generations in NE Texas around Atlanta, aren't
the only ones to know the benefits of Epsom Salt. That age-old compound
is gaining more and more attention these days for its affordable,
back-to-basics approach to everything from health and beauty, household
cleaning, gardening and lawn care. Not to mention a good old foot
One of the earliest discoveries of magnesium sulfate - the scientific
name for Epsom Salt - occurred back in Shakespeare's day in the mineral
rich waters of Epsom, England. In those early days, some folks came
there to drink the waters as a purgative. While these days some may
prefer only to soak their aches, pains and toxins out in a warm bath
solution, Epsom is still used as an ingredient in some stomach medications.
This mineral product is "the ultimate foot soak," easing achy muscles,
smoothing the rough patches and absorbing odors. Just add ½ cup of
Epsom Salt to a large foot-pan of warm water and soak for as long
as it feels right.
Epsom Salt water seemed to be the cure-all for a lot of rural illnesses
and maladies during my growing-up years in the Ark-La-Tex area. My
mother's very rural "medical expertise" was to use it early and often
on us kids. It was used on insect bites and strings, and brought great
relief from the most dreaded of all, chigger and tick bites.
More than one time I have gotten off the school bus and came hobbling
down the road home with a sprained ankle. Before I hardly knew it,
mother had a warm pan of Epsom Salt water ready for me to soak the
ankle in for about 30 to 45 minutes. Most of the time a sprained ankle
resulted from playing high school sports, especially basketball. A
daily soaking was routine for the next several days.
Other uses mother often made available for herself were a relaxing
and sedative bath using 2 cups of the mineral in a tub of warm water.
She and my sisters also used it as a face cleaner, mixing it into
their regular face cleansing cream. They too, had a concoction of
mixing Epsom Salt with their shampoo to aid in removal of excess oil
from the hair. Then they rinsed it with lemon juice or organic apple
I know, some of these old fashion remedies and solutions aren't for
everybody to use these days, nor do many of us want to use them.
But, I also know first hand that Epsom Salt was a great soak for sprains
and bruises; for splinter removal, too. Just soak that splinter for
awhile and it soon loosened up and quickly aided in drawing it right
On several occasions I recall becoming infected with what some country
folk knew only as "dew poisoning", while others in our area might
call a similar condition, "ground itch." It was an itchy, red and
miserable foot rash developed from going barefoot through grass and
weeds wet with early morning dew.
"Dew poisoning" was a severe foot irritation I could have surely lived
without while growing up in Cass County. But, during the warm months
of the year, going barefoot was the only way to go for a backwoods
shirttail country kid. Freedom from socks and shoes..... Heavenly!
Epsom Salt had many "old time" valuable uses and was the best available
solution for "dew poisoning."
N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" >
November 1, 2006 Column