Mary Hunt

I can recall vividly and count on one hand the migraine headaches I’ve had in my life, all of them before age 10. Once I turned double digits, I outgrew them — until about two years ago.

With no warning at all, there I was back to my 8-year-old self, flat on my back with a raging migraine. Why then, after all these years?

In reading up on the latest findings on what might cause my migraine headaches, I discovered the importance of magnesium to overall health.

Turns out that an estimated 50% of the U.S. population may suffer from magnesium deficiency. This can cause all kinds of health issues, one of them being migraine headaches. One study, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, concludes that all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned that common, ordinary Epsom salt is one of the richest sources of magnesium.

You can be sure that Epsom salt soaks have been part of my routine to boost my magnesium and hopefully continue to avoid migraines. In the nearly two years since I wrote about my recurring migraine experience, I have not had even the hint of another migraine.

Epsom salts, also known as hydrated magnesium sulfate (not to be confused with table salt, which is sodium chloride and not even close to the same thing) is plentiful, inexpensive and available at drugstores and supermarkets and online. It has dozens of other practical uses and health benefits, too!


Sedative bath: Soak in a warm bath to soothe muscle pain and aches.

Sleep aid: Because of its ability to soothe skin and relax muscles, Epsom salt can contribute to a good night’s rest.

Sprains and bruises: Soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath will reduce the swelling of sprains and bruises.

Foot soak: To combat the swelling and soothe sore feet, add 1/2 cup Epsom salt to a gallon of lukewarm water, and soak your feet for 15 minutes at the end of the day.

Splinter remover: Soak in Epsom salt to draw out the splinter. It really works.

Sunburn relief: Epsom salt’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a great tool for treating mild sunburn irritation.

Dealing with insects

Bug bites:To help relieve common insect bites, just mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt with 1 cup of water. Dip a cotton washcloth in the solution, and apply to the affected area. Relief!

Bee stings: Battle minor swelling from bee stings by using an anti-inflammatory Epsom salt compress. Mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt with a cup of cold water, and soak a cotton washcloth in the solution. Apply to the affected area. (If you have severe swelling or trouble breathing following a bee sting, seek emergency medical attention.)


Fertilizer: Tests show that Epsom salt (not table salt, which would prove deadly to lawns and gardens) helps produce more flowers and larger plants, and make fruit taste sweeter.

Houseplants: Feed houseplants monthly by adding 2 tablespoons Epsom salt per gallon of water.

Tomatoes: Apply 1 tablespoon Epsom salt diluted in water per foot of tomato plant height per plant.

Lawns: Feed 3 pounds of Epsom salt to every 1,250 square feet of lawn. Apply with a spreader, or dilute the Epsom salt in water and use a sprayer.

Trees: Use 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet by diluting in water. Apply three times each year over the root zone.

Shrubs: To feed evergreens, azaleas and rhododendron, dilute 1 tablespoon in water for every 9 square feet and apply over the root zone every two to four weeks.

I hope that some of this information is helpful, especially for my readers who suffer from debilitating headaches. Even if you’ve never had a migraine, do yourself a favor and consider how magnesium may improve your health. I’m convinced this is a miracle.

Reader tips

WHITE GROUT. Mix a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Using an old toothbrush, apply the paste to the grout and give a little scrub. Leave on for a few minutes; rinse. For stained grout between floor tiles, try rubbing the area lightly with folded sandpaper, but beware, as this will remove the grout sealer, too.

Once completely clean, consider resealing all of that nice clean grout. Sealant is readily available at any home improvement center.

— Rob

CLEAN GROUT. I use a battery-powered toothbrush to brush my teeth. After a few months, instead of throwing the toothbrush head away, I use it to remove the stains from my tile counters.

After using a sponge to wet down the grout, I sprinkle a little cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend over the grout, let it sit for a few minutes and then let the spinning, vibrating toothbrush clean in all the little nooks and crannies. It requires very little elbow grease.

Then I just rinse off the counter and admire the white grout again.

— Sheila

Mary Hunt writes this column for Creators Syndicate. She is the founder of, a lifestyle blog, and the author of “Debt-Proof Living. Submit comments or tips or address questions on her website. She will answer questions of general interest via this column, but letters cannot be answered individually.

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