[Update: The lawsuit detailed on this page was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff on April 19 following the April 18 filing of a motion to dismiss in which counsel for Parfums de Coeur Ltd. told the court that the plaintiff had “failed to effectuate service on the Defendant” after the suit’s filing within the 90-day period afforded by federal law.
The refiled suit can be read here.]
Can an Epsom salt bath really relieve muscle soreness – or is it just an old wives’ tale? A proposed class action recently filed in Connecticut insists on the latter.
The lawsuit, filed against beauty and wellness product manufacturer Parfums De Coeur, Ltd., centers on the company’s Dr. Teal’s brand of Epsom salt products and claims the salts’ promised benefits of muscle pain relief and detoxification simply hold no water.
The case argues that the defendant’s deceptive labeling and marketing of Dr. Teal’s Epsom salts caused consumers to pay for a product that has “no value whatsoever.”
What Is Epsom Salt, Anyway?
The complaint explains that Epsom salt—or, in scientific terms, magnesium sulfate heptahydrate—has been used as a laxative since it was discovered at the beginning of the 17th century. The purported healing effects of the substance, the case goes on, can be traced back to the English town after which the salt was named, where people noticed that cattle wading into Epsom-rich waters “seemed to heal more quickly from wounds.” The belief spread quickly, according to the lawsuit, and attracted tourists from far and wide who expected Epson salt to provide “all kinds of relief from various painful symptoms.”
The lawsuit claims these tales are mere “folk stories” alternative health companies such as the defendant have capitalized on in order to sell products that are essentially worthless. As the complaint tells it:
Defendant exploits the mythology that grew out of the discovery of Epsom salt four hundred years ago, in the scientifically ignorant early 17th Century, in order to peddle a snake-oil solution to muscle pain that adds nothing to the benefits of an ordinary hot bath.”
What Benefits Do Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts Claim to Offer?
Dr. Teal’s Epsom salts, according to the proposed class action, promise on their labels that the products will relieve muscle pain and soreness when dissolved in a bath.
The type that the plaintiff supposedly purchased—Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, Detoxify & Energize with Ginger & Clay—tacks on an additional benefit, the suit says, and assures buyers that they can use the salt to “detoxify” their bodies.
Is There Any Science Behind These Claims?
According to the lawsuit, no.
As for the claim regarding pain relief, the case points to several scientific sources in which experts adamantly deny that Epsom salts can relieve muscle soreness. The reason? It is “biologically impossible” for the magnesium in Epsom salt to pass through the skin and be absorbed into the body, according to the cited sources. While magnesium ions supposedly do offer health benefits, the molecules are simply too big to be absorbed when dissolved in water, at least in any amount that would have the promised effect, the case says.
“To the extent Epson Salt baths relieve muscle pain,” the complaint reads, “they are merely doing what all hot baths do, proving temporary relief without accelerating the healing process.”
Hopefully they smell good, at least.
What Does the Lawsuit Say About Epsom Salt’s “Detox” Claims?
I’m glad you asked. The lawsuit also criticizes the Dr. Teal’s Epsom salt product that purports to “detoxify” the body.
According to the case, Epsom salts can’t possibly detoxify the body, as “detoxification” specifically refers to a medical procedure performed in a hospital when patients have a life-threatening level of drugs, alcohol, or other toxins in their bodies.
The complaint claims Parfums De Coeur’s Epsom salts and other “pseudo-medicine” products use the term as part of a deceptive marketing scheme that attempts to “hijack medical terminology for a quick profit.”
What Relief Is the Lawsuit Seeking to Provide?
The proposed class action seeks to stop the defendant’s “false and misleading advertising” practices, correct “the false and misleading perception” it has instilled in consumers’ minds, and pay back consumers the money they’re allegedly owed for purchasing the products.
Aside from the supposedly nonexistent health benefits, consumers have no other reason to pour salt into a bath and have been robbed of the entire purchase price of Dr. Teal’s products, the case says.
Which Dr. Teal’s Products Are Named in the Lawsuit?
The case specifically names the following Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt products:
Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Sooth & Sleep with Lavender Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Relax & Relief with Eucalyptus & Spearmint Dr. Teal’s Pink Himalayan Mineral Soak – Restore & Replenish with Pure Epsom Salt & Essential Oils Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Coconut Oil to Nourish and Protect Skin Dr. Teal’s Deep Marine Sea Kelp Mineral Soak – Purify & Hydrate with Pure Epsom Salt & Essential Oils Dr. Teal’s Ultra Moisturizing Mineral Soak – Super Moisturizer Avocado Oil Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Detoxify & Energize with Ginger & Clay Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Pre & Post Workout with Magnesium Sulfate & Menthol Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Wellness Therapy with Rosemary & Mint Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Soften & Nourish with Milk & Honey Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Comfort & Calm with Chamomile Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution – Magnesium Sulfate U.S.P. Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Moisturizing Foot Soak – Softening Remedy with Aloe & Coconut Oil; and Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Refreshing Foot Soak – Revives Achy Feet with Cooling Peppermint.