The chemical name for Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. This naturally occurring mineral substance is found in seawater and is distilled out from it for various practical as well as medicinal uses. People started using it as a laxative many centuries ago. However, its uses are not just confined to the treatment of constipation but there are many more. Like, it is used as bath salts for its relaxing effect on the sore muscles and it also eases off the tension from the nervous system. It can exfoliate the skin, treat skin problems like blackheads or boils, heal up bruises and so on.
Constipation is a gastrointestinal problem characterized by infrequent bowel movements. When a person is constipated, the frequency of bowel movements is as low as three times or less in a week. Usually, it occurs when the waste product of the body moves very slowly inside the digestive tract. As a result, stool turns hard and dry and passing the hardened stool become painful. The two main causes of constipation is lack of fluid in the body and absence of fiber-rich foods in the diet. When Epsom salt is ingested for constipation relief, it has a tendency to draw out water from blood into the digestive tract. The water accumulated inside the colon helps to soften up the stool. The magnesium present in this salt then promotes contraction of the bowel muscles. Thus stool is excreted out easily.
You can purchase a box of Epsom salts from the local grocery stores where it is kept along with other first-aid items. Before using it, you must read the label of box where instructions are given about its dosage. In general, for adults, the dosage is 2 teaspoons dissolved in one cup of water or fruit juice. For small children, it is going to be just half teaspoon in a cup of cold water or juice. Here, let me tell you one thing that you should not use it for the treatment of constipation in children who are below the age of 6 years. Stir the solution properly so that the salt granules are dissolved and then drink it. Most of the time, it triggers bowel movement within half an hour but sometimes, it may take as long as 6 hours. So, if you do not get any sign of bowel movement within 4 hours, then you can take one more dose.
Epsom can also be safely used for enema. In this method, you should use warm water instead of cold water. Prepare a solution by dissolving 2-4 teaspoons of Epsom salts in a glass of water. Take this solution in a rubber syringe. The guidelines for using the enema syringe is given on its surface. Read that carefully and inject the solution into the rectum accordingly.
Many people have found warm Epsom salt bath to be highly beneficial for colon cleansing. For this, you have to add 2 cups of the salt in a tub of hot water. Then add half cup each of baking soda and ginger powder into the bath water. Soak your body into this water for half an hour. The magnesium thus gets absorbed into the body topically and facilitates faster removal of the toxins from the intestines. Initially, you should take this bath once in a week. Later on, you can increase its frequency up to 3 times in a week.
There are no major side effects of Epsom. However, if you drink more than 2 doses of the solution within a short span of 24 hours, then it can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, etc. Epsom salts can provide only a temporary solution to the constipation problem. If it is taken for a long time, then the body tends to get dependent on the laxative. It can also cause damage to the intestinal lining in future. It is not suitable for every person who is suffering from constipation. Patients with chronic constipation, digestive problems, kidney problems should avoid Epsom. It can interact adversely with certain medicines. Therefore, if you are under medication, then ask your doctor whether you should use it or not. It may not suit pregnant women. Though there is no such evidence which suggests that it can cause any kind of harm to the unborn babies. Still, pregnant women should consult their doctor before taking Epsom.
While using Epsom for constipation relief, you may notice that you feel thirsty very frequently. This is because a large amount of water is drawn into the colon from the body. Therefore, you must drink plenty of water to replenish that fluid in the body.