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Friday, October 30, 2020

Is Epsom Salt a Safe Laxative?

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If you have ever been constipated, you can easily relate to the urge for fast relief. It is quite common for people who are constipated to go for stimulant laxatives because they work, but most times these stimulant laxatives cause explosive bowel movements and painful cramping.

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The power of Epsom salt as a gentle and fast way to relieve constipation is highly underrated, and this article will expose you to all the details you need on the subject.

What if Epsom salt?

Epsom salt looks a lot like your regular table salt which is sodium chloride. However, there is a vast difference in the ingredients both salts are made of.

While Epsom salt is combination magnesium and sulphate, your table salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. Epsom salt got its name from the town of Epsom where it was first discovered in England about four centuries ago.

Epsom salt is very popular for its ability to soften the skin, relieve muscle aches, and soothe tired feet. Epsom salt is often used in DIY skin scrubs and salt baths. You can also consume it orally to ease constipation.


Constipation happens when your stool takes too long to pass through your digestive tract and when it eventually comes out, it’s hard and dry.

Constipation can lead to fewer bowel movements and sometimes no bowel movement at all. Constipation occurs when you have at most three bowel movements a week.

You can either have chronic constipation or temporary constipation, but whichever one you are dealing with, the condition is usually uncomfortable.

Constipation may cause; feeling like you still have stool in your digestive tract, even after you have had a bowel movement; straining during bowel movement, the need to remove still manually, hard stools, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloating, and nausea.

Causes of constipation

Constipation is usually caused by nothing but lifestyle factors most of the time. Factors that cause constipation include laxative abuse, a lack of exercise, dehydration, a low-fibre diet, stress. Pregnancy can also be a cause of constipation.

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There are a couple of severe conditions that are linked to constipation, and they include pelvic floor muscle problems, intestinal blockages, thyroid problems, diabetes, neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and neuropathy.

Complications of constipation

Most times we overlook constipation, but it is a condition that can become complicated. Some serious complications that can happen due to constipation include faecal impaction, haemorrhoids, anal fissures, and rectal prolapse.

Treating constipation using Epsom salt

The United States food aid drugs administration approves the use of Epsom salt as a laxative to treat constipation. When you consume Epsom salt, it increases the amount of water content in your intestine. The water softens the stool and makes it easy for you to expel it.

You can easily find Epsom salt in grocery stores, drug stores, and some department stores. You can find Epsom salt in the laxative or personal care section of the drug store. If you need to consume Epsom salt to treat constipation, go for the plain variety.

Never ingest the scented mixture of Epsom salt even if the container reads that the scent is from natural oils.

In almost all cases it is safe to use Epsom salts for adults and children above six years of age. Never use Epsom salt as a bath detox or laxative for children below six years of age.

You would need to follow the dosage guidelines if you must treat constipation using Epsom salt. For adult and children above 12 years and above, you need to dissolve about 2-4 level teaspoons of Epsom salt in no more than 8 ounces of water and consume immediately.

For children who are between 6-11 years of age, it’s safe to dissolve 1-2 level teaspoons of Epsom salt in precisely 8 ounces of water and allow them to drink immediately.

Some people might find it difficult to tolerate the taste of Epsom salt. If you are one of those people, you can add fresh lemon juice to the salt mixture.

Wait to see if the first dose works, and if it doesn’t work, try another dose after four hours. Do not consume above two doses of Epsom salt daily.

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Never use Epsom salt for more than a week without consulting your doctor. If you have taken two doses of Epsom salt in a day and still do not have a bowel moment before the end of that day, consult your doctor immediately.

You can also relieve constipation by using Epsom salt externally. For external use, dissolve five cups full of Epsom salt in a bathtub full of warm water.

You will be able to absorb magnesium into your body through your skin and also relax your guess since soften your stool as you soak in the bath. You may get a bowl movement after 12 to 15 minutes of sizing in the bathtub.

If you have any of the conditions below, ensure to discuss with your doctor before using Epsom salt: a kidney disease, a magnesium-restricted diet, vomiting, nurses nausea, severe stomach pain, or a random change in your bowel habits that has lasted two weeks or more.

What are the side effects of orally consuming Epsom salt?

Epsom salt is very safe when correctly used. It is essential that you drink plenty of water while using Epsom salt because of its laxative quality. Epsom salt and many other laxatives may cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea, gas, cramping, bloating, and nausea.

If laxatives are overused, they may cause an imbalance of electrolytes in the user’s body, and that may lead to symptoms like an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, weakness, seizure, and even confusion.

Simple tips for preventing constipation

Within thirty minutes to six hours after consumption, it is expected that Epsom salt must have produced some kind of result for the consumer. At least one dose and at most two doses should clear up acute constipation within a short time.

Do not assume that Epsom salt is a permanent cure for constipation. It is only a quick fix which means you have to find the source of your constipation and fix that, so you do not have to deal with another episode of constipation.

If you do not treat the cause of your constipation, it may become chronic, and that’ll make you more uncomfortable. The irony of using laxatives is that the more you depend on them, the worse your condition gets which is why you need to handle constipation by focusing on the root cause.

To avoid chronic constipation, you can try the following technics

Move more

Sitting for a long time can make it more difficult for your stool to move through your intestine. If what you do on a daily basis of a desk job, ensure to take a break from it every hour and walk around.

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You can also buy a pedometer and set a regular target of 10,000 steps for yourself. Engaging in cardio exercises regularly can also help to encourage your bowel movements.

Easy more fibre

Since people hardly consume foods rich in fibre and that could be a contributing factor in constipation. You can get insoluble fibre from foods like whole grain, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts.

Fibres are good for digestion. What they do is to bulk up your stool, and that will ultimately help to move out through your intestine with more ease. Consuming about 25 to 30 grams of fibre per day should help to improve your bowel movements.

Drink more water

The importance of drinking water can never be overemphasised. The human body needs water for numerous reasons, and hydration is the most vital of the reasons. When you are dehydrated, your colon also becomes dehydrated.

Make sure that you drink lots of water throughout the day. If you can’t keep drinking plain water, you can try other beverages that are non-sugary like decaffeinated tea. These should help you maintain a reasonable level of hydration.

Reduce stress

Stress has different effects on people which is why for some individuals, Being stressed affects their guts and causes constipation.

You can try the following technics to help you name stress: Yoga, psychotherapy, meditation, walking, and resting. If you feel you can’t manage your stress, consult your doctor for advice.

Check the medications you have been taking

Medications like blood pressure drugs, opioid, or even sedatives can lead to constipation. If you have been taking a medication that could be responsible for your constipation, ask your doctor if it is possible to get an alternative what will not make you constipated.

Epsom salt is safe and healthy but ensures that you do not overdo, and you do not use it if you are dealing with kidney problems.

Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.
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