A float tank contains a lot of epsom salt. Like, a lot a lot. Eight hundred to a thousand pounds each, to make the water so dense you literally can’t help but float.
People sometimes wonder, though, why epsom salt? It’s hardly the easiest thing we could lay our hands on in bulk. Most importantly, it’s harmless to soak in for long periods, and it doesn’t cause the itchy, pruny feeling you get from soaking in sea salt. But there are other benefits.
Epsom salt is called that because it was first produced from natural springs at Epsom, England, around 1618, and from 1695 chemists and pharmacies were selling purified “bitter salts” all over England. For three hundred years since it’s been used to cure just about anything, from muscle aches to skin health, foot odor, wrinkles, psoriasis, eczema, mosquito bites, bruises, inflammation, hangovers, migraines, constipation, and the common cold.
Do any of these really work? Let’s look at the science.
One of the most common causes of insomnia is simple stress. And loss of sleep not only makes it harder to deal with the outside stress in your life, but it is itself stressful. It’s a vicious circle.
There are well-known remedies, but most have equally well-known drawbacks. Most drugs are actively habit-forming, or at least have diminishing returns if you rely on them. Meditation can be very powerful, but requires disciplined practice and focus to achieve, practice that becomes harder to do when stressed out and short on sleep.
“It’s just that I am feeling so heavy, cumbersome and sore this pregnancy that I would love to feel weightless if only for an hour.”
As always, check with your health care provider first, for any conditions that might be specific to you. Many women, though, report that they find wonderful relief from the stress of pregnancy in a tank. The dense Epsom salt-laden water gently takes up all the unaccustomed weight you’re bearing, and gives respite to your strained joints.
“I was eight months pregnant when I floated for the first time. Pregnancy takes a toll on every muscle in your body, especially your torso. Ironically, the times when you get a chance to rest is when the baby becomes more active and its weight continues to put stress on your muscles. While floating, I expected the baby to be very active, but was pleasantly surprised. Since there was no pressure from any side, the baby didn’t feel the need to kick or roll around. It was the best rest I’ve had in several months. I would recommend floating to anyone, pregnant or not, for a time of physical and mental renewal.”
(Heather Warren, Oakland, CA)
Last week I wrote about the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project and said “fibromyalgia is not well understood at all”. This week I found interesting new research, just published in June! Here’s a quick update.
For what I believe is the first time, a physiological mechanism for fibro symptoms has been found. This is important, and not just because it means that medications for the disease can now be contemplated. Fibromyalgia has been such a mysterious condition that many doctors have thought it might be entirely in the mind, or even faked. That at least should now be disproven, and a surprising new method of diagnosis is available.