Epsom Salt as Laxative: Using Ways and Precautions

Despite the name, Epsom salt is not actually sodium chloride or a table salt. It consists of active ingredients such as magnesium and sulfate. The beneficial properties of this salt have been known to offer relaxation to skin, soothe or comfort tired feet and help ease muscle aches. It is also frequently used to relieve constipation. Epsom salt as laxative provides immediate and gentle relief to the problem of constipation.

Why Can Epsom Salt Work as Laxative?

Constipation refers to a slow and sluggish movement of stool through your colon that is often hard and dry to pass. Constipation occurs if the bowel movements occur less than thrice a week or less than your normal daily frequency.

Epsom salt is approved by U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be consumed naturally to enhance bowel movements and to relieve the symptoms of constipation. Taken internally, Epsom salt acts as an osmotic laxative by increasing the water content in the intestine, and thereby promotes softening of stool and detoxification of the colon by removal of waste products. Magnesium, one of the active ingredients of this salt, enhances the contractile activity of bowel muscles and eases passing of the stools.

Selection of the Right Epsom Salt

Proper selection of the Epsom salt is very important. The one which is available in pharmacy is not recommended for intake by humans. Always look for the mark “USP” (United States Pharmacopeia) on its package and make sure that it has a drug facts box that is clearly indicating that it is meeting the standards of FDA. You can easily buy the right kind of Epsom salt at different drugstores, grocery stores or in online stores.

How to Use Epsom Salt for Constipation

Method 1 – Internal Ingestion

The recommended daily intake of Epsom salt as laxative may vary, according to the age of an individual:

  • For adults and children aged ≥ 12 years: Mix 2-4 tsp. of Epsom salt in 8 oz. of warm water and instantly drink it.
  • For children aged 6-11 years: Mix 1-2 tsp. of Epsom salt in 8 oz. of warm water and instantly drink it.
  • If constipation symptoms are not relieved after the first dosage, you can take another Epsom salt drink after 4 hours.
  • Do not exceed more than two doses of the Epsom salt drink per day. Also, avoid using it continuously for more than one week without consulting your physician.

Method 2 – External Application

Epsom salt can also be used externally for treating constipation. Simply soaking in Epsom salt water will relax the intestinal muscles and absorb magnesium mineral via the skin. The recommended external method is described below:

  • Simply pour five cups of Epsom salt in a bathtub containing warm water. Mix well and soak your entire body for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with plain water afterward. Repeat the procedure daily to eliminate constipation. For children aged 6 years or above, dissolve 1/2 cup of this salt and rest of the instructions remain the same. Also, apply and massage their stomach gently with some natural oils such as olive oil, hemp oil or castor oil ideally above 2-4” from the belly button.
  • Add 2 cups of Epsom salt into 1/2 cup of ginger powder and baking soda, and dissolve this entire mixture into your bathtub filled with lukewarm water. Immerse yourself in it for 30 minutes and repeat the procedure first for once a week and later three times a week for better results. This will detoxify the toxins from your body and ease your constipation problem.

Watch Out for the Side Effects of Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is generally considered as a safe laxative; however, it may cause dehydration and mild gastrointestinal problems.These may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloating, gas formation and diarrhea. Excess consumption of Epsom salts may also lead to disparity in electrolyte balance which causes symptoms such as weakness, confusions, agitation, light-headedness, abnormal heartbeat, and seizures. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water while using Epsom salt.

Do Not Use Epsom Salts If You Experience These Symptoms

Avoid using Epsom salts if you encounter any other symptoms along with constipation. These may include severe abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, unanticipated change in bowel habits that lasted for a minimum of two weeks, bleeding from the rectum or dark colored or tarry stools.

Avoid Epsom Salts If You Are Taking Certain Medications

To avoid any possible drug interactions, it is advisable not to use Epsom salt as laxative while taking antibiotics such as Gentamicin, Tobramycin, Kanamycin, Amikacin and Neomycin. In addition, always consult your physician before using Epsom salts if you are using medications such as corticosteroids, anti-hypertensive drugs, pain killers, antacids or antidepressants.

Do Not Take Epsom Salts If You Have a Certain Medical Condition

Before taking Epsom salt, always consult a doctor if you have a medical problem such as diabetes mellitus, renal problem, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, or any eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Taking Epsom salts with these underlying medical conditions is risky.

Moreover, if you have tried any other laxative in the past two weeks which was ineffective in relieving the symptoms of constipation, then ask your doctor before using Epsom salts.

Can Pregnant Woman Utilize Epsom Salt as Laxative?

It is not recommended for a pregnant woman to take Epsom salt internally for constipation, as it may endanger the growth and development of a fetus. It interferes with the absorption of calcium and may lead to bone pathologies in your unborn child. Therefore, always take a suggestion from your doctor if you are carrying a baby or planning to become pregnant. However, you can use Epsom salts externally for bathing and soak your body in warm water containing these salts. This will alleviate constipation as well as pain related to pregnancy.

If you are breastfeeding or nursing a child, then there are some precautions that you should take before using Epsom salts. So, it is better to take advice from your doctor.

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