Epsom salt has been long used as a natural remedy for ailments for centuries now. Essentially composed of magnesium sulphate, it is a mineral compound with many used, especially during pregnancy. While there is no concrete medical proof that administering Epsom Salt during your pregnancy can cause any harm to your foetus in any particular trimester, there are other side effects and risks that can occur if not consumed in recommended dosages.
Epsom Salt Laxative for Constipation During Pregnancy
What is Epsom salt?
Magnesium sulphate is an inorganic salt that occurs as an epsomite, and is thus called ‘epsom salt’. The usage of epsom salts was popularized as a traditional bath salt, and is often used in beauty products as well.
Indication of constipation
A common usage of epsom salt is as a laxative during pregnancy.
But before using epsom salt as a relief item, it is important to identify the symptoms of constipation, which may include:
- Reduction of bowel movements- with three or less movements in a week
- Passing stool may become difficult or painful
- Dry and lumpy stool
Causes of constipation during pregnancy
Constipation is an extremely common phenomenon during pregnancy, and can be attributed to several causes.
High occurrence of haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids are nothing but swollen veins around the anus, and can itch and hurt. Epsom salt can be used to relieve one from haemorrhoids.
Reduced physical exercise
Physical exercise and activity is known to keep the body’s metabolic rate high, and helps the body processes such as digestion to function much faster. Pregnancies can make one tired and seek rest most of the time, and the reduced physical activity could also be a cause of constipation. Engaging in light physical activities and exercise could improve bowel movements and reduce the chances of constipation.
Fibre in food is known to enable bowel movements, and prevents constipation. It is important to incorporate food rich in fibres in your diet during pregnancy, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods like cheese, meat and eggs tend to have very little fibre, and consuming much of these during your pregnancy without balanced fibre-rich foods could lead to constipation.
Hormonal changes are natural and is experienced early on in pregnancies. Some hormones like progesterone and relaxin enable the muscles of the uterus to relax, to make room for the growing foetus. This also results in the relaxation of muscles and tissues in the digestive system, and lead to constipation.
Read More: 21 Effective Home Remedies for Constipation
Using Epsom salt to relieve constipation
Epsom salt is an inexpensive laxative that is widely available in pharmacies and drug stores. However, it must be remembered that the epsom salt that is to be used as a laxative must be of a food-grade quality, and can be subject to different set of instructions and varies across manufacturers.
Being a salt, epsom salt is easily soluble in water. The dosage of epsom salt depends on the person’s age, wherein an adult and children above 12 years of age can consume 2-6 teaspoons of epsom salt a day, which the number drastically reduces to 1-2 teaspoons for children below the age of 12 and above the age of 6.
While the dosage can be split over different times of the day, the daily limit must not be exceeded. Dissolving a spoon or two in a glass of water before drinking it is the best way to consume this laxative. You could also mix with lemon juice to improve the taste.
Benefits of using Epsom salt
Being a natural mineral, epsom salt works at a fast rate and does not harm the foetus during pregnancy, when consumed at the recommended dosage.
It is expected that bowel movements occur within half hour to six hours of consumption. Epsom salts work great for constipation by attracting more fluid to the intestines, which in turn stretched the muscles of the intestines and enables the stool to pass through.
Side effects of using Epsom salt
Given that epsom salt seeks to increase bowel movements, it can lead to diarrhoea and a stomach upset, but eventually becomes better. Some other side effects to the usage of this mineral includes allergic reactions such as chest tightness, swelling of parts of the mouth, rashes, and itching; dizziness, muscle weakness and severe drowsiness and sweating.
If the side effects intensify overtime, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.
Precaution of using epsom salt
- Epsom salt should be avoided if one has any renal ailments or kidney problems. Given that the salt is essentially a mineral, it requires to be flushed out of the body by the kidneys only. This means that one should also consume healthy amounts of water and other fluids to flush out epsom salt from the system.
- Excess consumption of epsom salt can lead to magnesium intoxication, marked by a sharp drop in blood pressure and respiratory paralysis.
- Magnesium deficiency should not be countered by the consumption of epsom salt, and should be handled by medical professionals.
- Since the tendency to develop magnesium intoxication remains high, the use of epsom salt should be controlled, and should not be the go-to laxative to relieve constipation.
- Epsom salt and other laxatives could also induce labour by contracting and relaxing muscles, and should be consumed carefully.
- Constipation can also be the result of a bowel obstruction, leading to long-term or severe constipation, and is inherently a medical condition that requires medical intervention.
While there is no concrete medical proof that administering Epsom Salt during your pregnancy can cause any harm to your foetus in any particular trimester, there are other side effects and risks that can occur if not consumed in recommended dosages.
It is always preferable to rely on laxative pills and remedies such as Epsom salt after exhausting other possible and harmless remedies. When constipated, especially during pregnancy, ensure that you consume healthy amounts of water, and fibre-rich diet, along with physical exercise, and see the results. While laxatives like Epsom Salt do not cause much harm, it is better to exhaust other options before relying on it for relieve from constipation.
It is also a safer option to use Epsom salt as a laxative after consulting your general physician and gynaecologist for the recommended dosage and other alternatives.