Give tips on holistic health.

Epsom Salt Laxative

What is Epsom Salt Laxative and What are its Side Effects?

Epsom salt laxatives are used to relieve occasional constipation in people or for colon cleansing before colonoscopy procedures. Though epsom salts possess laxative properties, various side effects are associated with their overdose. Further, they are not recommended for frequent internal use. This article provides some information on the same.
Priya Johnson
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral compound, chemically known as magnesium sulfate. These salts are easily available at drug stores or grocery stores, inexpensive to purchase and are popular for their versatility. They find applications in Epsom salt baths for relaxing and detoxifying the body, in facial scrubs for skin exfoliation, for relieving aches and pains, treating fungal infections, as hair volumizers, etc. Moreover, epsom salts also possesses laxative properties, which make them suitable contenders for colon cleansing or as constipation relief measures.
What is Epsom Salt Laxative
Epsom salts can be used to relieve a person of occasional constipation. The use of Epsom salts as laxatives is not recent. In fact, people have been using Epsom salt as a cure for constipation for centuries together. Moreover, people about to undergo colonoscopy procedures can opt for Epsom salts as a natural alternative to clear the colon. Epsom salts have this unique ability to draw water into the colon, by a process known as hyperosmosis.
This causes the wastes in the bowels to loosen or soften and facilitates easier excretion. People suffering from constipation are unable to pass stool because it's very hard. Epsom salts increase the amount of water in the bowels, which further leads to stool softening and easy passage of stool out of the body.
Directions for Internal Use of Epsom Salts
Epsom salts can be mixed with water and consumed orally or can be added in a rectal enema. Epsom salt laxative recipe is very simple. All one needs is Epsom salt and some water. In 8 ounces (1 cup) of drinking water, add approximately 1-2 tsp Epsom salt. This is just a rough approximation. Check the packet of Epsom salt for specific instructions. The amount of Epsom salt added will also vary according to one's age. Stir well and drink. Some may not like the flavor of the Epsom salt drink. Such people can squirt a lemon or add orange juice to the drink for a slight tangy flavor.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the amount of Epsom salt added would vary according to one's age, as follows:
  • For children 6 to 12 years of age: In 1 cup (8 oz.) of drinking water, dissolve approximately 1-2 teaspoons.
  • For adults and children 12 years of age and older: In 1 cup (8 oz.) of drinking water, dissolve approximately 2-4 teaspoons.
Take this twice a day, with a four-hour gap between two doses. However, do not take more than two doses of Epsom salt solution a day. Don't be under the impression that the more dosages you take, the faster you will be relieved of your situation. Epsom salts can work anywhere within the next half an hour to the next 6 hours after consumption.
So wait patiently, and make sure you stay somewhere around the washroom itself. Epsom salts are effective laxatives and will cleanse the colon thoroughly. Even as the body eliminates fecal matter, drink lots of water, so as to replace the lost amounts and avoid dehydration. 
For rectal enema with Epsom salt recipe, one needs 3 crushed cloves of garlic and the Epsom salt added to 4 cups (32 oz) of water. Simmer these three ingredients together on the stove for 10 minutes. Once simmered, allow the mixture to cool down till 103º Fahrenheit. Pour it into the enema bag along with warm water to fill the enema bag. Your colon cleansing enema is ready. Hope you know what to do next.
Epsom Salt Laxative Side Effects
Magnesium and sulfates play a vital role in various body functions such as muscle control, toxin elimination, nutrient absorption, energy production, inflammation reduction, etc. Moreover, ingestion of Epsom salt is not harmful to the body, however, the amount ingested is what matters. In fact, the FDA has also approved the use of Epsom salt as a laxative. People are aware of the different benefits of Epsom salts, however, very few know about the side effects of Epsom salts and dangers pertaining to overdose.
The daily recommended allowance of magnesium per day in our body ranges from 300-400 mg (for a healthy adult), whereas a tablespoon of Epsom salt contains approximately 35 g of magnesium sulfate, which is 3.4 g of elemental magnesium. Consumption of large amounts of Epsom salts on a frequent basis conduces to magnesium toxicity. The common symptoms observed due to magnesium toxicity are fatigue, chronic diarrhea, breathing trouble, etc. A severe case of magnesium overdose or hypermagnesemia, can also lead to grave consequences such as death.
People with stomach ache issues, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, bloating, etc. should strictly keep away from Epsom salts. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with kidney problems should also refrain from ingesting Epsom salts. There is no evidence as to any damage caused to the fetus, however, it's better to still refrain from it. However, pregnant women can alleviate swelling in their ankles by soaking their feet in Epsom salt water. Moreover, people taking prescription drugs must ascertain if their medications already comprise magnesium to avoid overdose.
Epsom salt's laxative effect is true and effective, however, the side effects are also a fact. Epsom salts are great to add into baths, etc. however, extreme caution has to be maintained during internal use. Try using other natural laxatives as a cure for relieving constipation. If you still plan to take Epsom salts, then do consult your health care provider before doing so. Also inform your health care provider about any allergies or illnesses prevalent in your body.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.