Most people consider their bowel habits a repugnant topic. However, constipation is among the most common gastrointestinal concerns in the United States, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. If you have fewer than three bowel movements per week, you likely have constipation. Dry or hard stools also indicate constipation, for which salt water is a potential treatment.
Most people know Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, as an all-purpose product, a soothing foot soak and natural laxative for occasional constipation. Although many pharmacies and grocery stores sell the salts in large quantities at low prices, they have significant value. As essential minerals your body needs to produce energy, magnesium sulfate activates enzymes and regulates calcium and nutrient levels. Your kidneys, heart and muscles, along with all your bodily organs, require the compounds to function normally.
Epsom salt works by increasing water in the intestines, thereby relieving minor constipation. Use the product by dissolving a single dosage in 8 ounces of water, stirring rapidly to distribute the crystal-like compound. To improve the taste, Drugs.com recommends adding a splash of lemon juice. Drink promptly and experience relief in 30 minutes to six hours.
Side Effects and Cautions
Although Epsom salts are safe for most people, some people experience stomach discomfort or diarrhea. Additionally, allergic reactions are possible. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience rashes, swelling or difficulty breathing. Using more than the recommended amount of Epsom salts can cause dangerous, even life-threatening complications. Because the salts make it harder for your body to absorb oral medications, you should avoid using it within two hours of your other drugs.
Additional Preventive Measures
In conjunction with Epsom salt, consider using other measures to treat and prevent constipation. Add more fiber to your diet, drink more water and take frequent walks if you are not already exercising. If these changes do not help, consult your doctor for a diagnosis. In some cases, medications are the culprit.