Magnesium in epsom salt

Contents

Epsom Salt

Generic Name: magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) (mag NEE see um SUL fate)
Brand Name: Epsom Salt

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Mar 18, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Interactions
  • Pregnancy
  • More

What is Epsom Salt?

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that is important for many systems in the body especially the muscles and nerves. Epsom Salt also increases water in the intestines.

Epsom Salt is used as a laxative to relieve occasional constipation.

Not all external uses for Epsom Salt have been approved by the FDA. Epsom salt should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Epsom Salt may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Never use a higher dose of magnesium sulfate than recommended on the package label, or as your doctor has directed. Using too much Epsom Salt can cause serious, life-threatening side effects.

Do not use Epsom Salt as a laxative without medical advice if you have: severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, a perforated bowel, a bowel obstruction, severe constipation, colitis, toxic megacolon, or a sudden change in bowel habits that has lasted 2 weeks or longer.

If you have rectal bleeding or if you do not have a bowel movement after using Epsom Salt as a laxative, stop using the medication and call your doctor at once. These may be signs of a more serious condition.

Before taking this medicine

Do not use Epsom Salt as a laxative without medical advice if you have:

  • severe stomach pain;

  • nausea or vomiting;

  • a perforated bowel;

  • a bowel obstruction or severe constipation;

  • colitis or toxic megacolon; or

  • a sudden change in bowel habits lasting 2 weeks or longer.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take Epsom Salt if you have:

  • diabetes;

  • kidney disease;

  • an eating disorder (anorexia or bulimia);

  • if you have already been using a laxative for longer than 1 week; or

  • if you on a low-magnesium diet.

It is not known whether Epsom Salt will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether magnesium sulfate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Epsom Salt?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor.

Never use a higher dose of magnesium sulfate than recommended on the package label, or as your doctor has directed. Using too much Epsom Salt can cause serious, life-threatening side effects.

Epsom Salt may be used orally (by mouth) or as a soak. Follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions on the package.

To take Epsom Salt orally, dissolve one dose in 8 ounces of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. You may add a small amount of lemon juice to improve the taste of this mixture.

Epsom Salt taken orally should produce a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 6 hours.

Drink plenty of liquids while you are taking Epsom Salt.

If you have rectal bleeding or if you do not have a bowel movement after using Epsom Salt as a laxative, stop using the medication and call your doctor at once. These may be signs of a more serious condition.

To use Epsom Salt as an epsom salt soak, dissolve in a large amount of water in a large bowl, a bucket, a foot tub, or a bath tub. Follow the directions on the product label about how much epsom salt to use per gallon of water.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since Epsom Salt is used on an as needed basis, you are not likely to miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of magnesium sulfate can be fatal

Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling), feeling very hot, slow heart rate, extreme drowsiness, or fainting.

What should I avoid while taking Epsom Salt?

Epsom Salt taken orally can make it harder for your body to absorb other medications you take by mouth, especially antibiotics. Avoid taking other medicines within 2 hours before or after you take this medicine as a laxative.

Epsom Salt side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Common side effects may include diarrhea or upset stomach.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Epsom Salt?

Other drugs may interact with magnesium sulfate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.03.

Medical Disclaimer

More about Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate)

  • Side Effects
  • During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
  • Dosage Information
  • Drug Interactions
  • Support Group
  • Pricing & Coupons
  • En Español
  • Drug class: laxatives
  • FDA Alerts (5)

Consumer resources

  • Epsom Salt (Advanced Reading)
  • Rite Aid First Aid Epsom Salt (Advanced Reading)

Professional resources

  • Magnesium Sulfate (AHFS Monograph)
  • … +1 more

Related treatment guides

  • Barium Poisoning
  • Hypomagnesemia
  • Seizure Prevention
  • Ventricular Arrhythmia

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As popular home remedies go, Epsom salts have stood the test of time, having been first extracted from mineral springs near the town of Epsom, England, in the late 1600s. Epsom salts are a naturally occurring mineral called magnesium sulfate that is also easily manufactured. Epsom salts use as a laxative was apparently the first of its benefits to be recognized, being the subject of an essay called “A treatise on the nature and use of the bitter, purging salt” by Dr. Nehemiah Grew in 1697. If you are suffering from constipation and are considering using Epsom salts as a laxative, it’s important to know what you’re doing.

1. Consult a Doctor

If used properly, an Epsom salts solution is considered safe to drink for constipation for most healthy people, but the Epsom Salt Council recommends that you consult a health care provider before first use. People with kidney or heart problems should not drink an Epsom salts solution because of possible electrolyte imbalances and toxicity from magnesium or phosphorus. Even patients who are otherwise healthy may develop these complications as a result of excessive use. Older adults should be cautious using Epsom salts because of the potential for gastrointestinal side effects and magnesium toxicity.

2. Choose the Right Salt

In addition to Epsom salts for human use, there is an industrial version made for agriculture and other uses. It is unlikely that you’ll find anything in a pharmacy that’s not intended for human use, but make sure the package is marked “USP” (United States Pharmacopeia) and has a “drug facts” box that indicates it has met U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.

3. Making the Solution

Most packages of USP-approved Epsom salts stipulate specific proportions of salt to water within a specific range. The salts dissolve more easily if the water is warm. Epsom salts have a distinctly bitter taste that some people may find offensive. This can be masked somewhat by adding lemon juice. When the solution is mixed, drink it as fast as you can.

4. Wait

Epsom salts are a potent laxative and the effects can be quite abrupt, so it’s a good idea to stay close to the bathroom until a bowel movement has occurred. Epsom salts usually work within 30 minutes to 6 hours. Epsom salts are what is known as an osmotic laxative, meaning they work by drawing water into the colon, creating water pressure that flushes out fecal matter. There is evidence to suggest that Epsom salts also work by stimulating the release of certain digestive hormones and neurotransmitters.

As prominent home remedies go, Epsom salts have actually stood the test of time, having been first removed from mineral springs near the town of Epsom, England, in the late 1600s. Epsom salts are a naturally happening mineral called magnesium sulfate that is also easily made. Epsom salts use as a laxative was evidently the initial of its benefits to be acknowledged, being the subject of an essay called “A writing on the nature and also use of the bitter, removing salt” by Dr. Nehemiah Grew in 1697. If you are dealing with constipation and also are considering using Epsom salts as a laxative, it’s important to recognize exactly what you’re doing.

When you’re constipated, it prevails to desire fast alleviation. Stimulant laxatives function, yet they may create unpleasant cramping and also explosive defecation. Epsom salt is a rapid and gentler way to eliminate constipation.

Epsom salt appears like common salt, or sodium chloride, but it isn’t made from the same active ingredients. It’s made from the minerals magnesium as well as sulfate. It wased initially discovered centuries earlier in Epsom, England.

Epsom salt is known for its capacity to soften skin, soothe weary feet, and also ease muscular tissue aches. It’s frequently made use of in do-it-yourself bath salts and skin scrubs. You can also take it inside to soothe constipation.

Constipation

Constipation happens when your feces takes excessive time to relocate with your digestion tract and your feces comes to be difficult and also dry. This can bring about fewer defecation or none in all. Inning accordance with the Mayo Clinic, constipation takes place if you have defecation less than three times each week or less than what’s typical for you.

Constipation might be chronic or short-lived. In either case, the condition can be very uncomfortable. It might cause:

  • hard feces
  • straining during bowel movements
  • the sensation that you haven’t cleared your bowel after a bowel movement
  • the should manually remove feces
  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • throwing up
  • Sources of Constipation
  • Constipation is often triggered by way of living aspects, such as:
  • a low-fiber diet
  • a lack of exercise
  • dehydration
  • tension
  • laxative abuse

Being expectant likewise has the tendency to create constipation.

Major problems that are linked with constipation include:

  • digestive tract blockages
  • pelvic floor muscular tissue issues
  • neurological conditions, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, or Parkinson’s condition
  • diabetic issues
  • thyroid issues

Issues of Constipation

It is essential to treat constipation to prevent severe issues, such as:

  • hemorrhoids
  • anal crevices
  • fecal impaction
  • anal prolapse

Making Use Of Epsom Salt for Constipation

The U.S. Fda has actually authorized to Epsom salt for the treatment of constipation. Taking in Epsom salt raises the amount of water in your intestinal tracts. This softens your stool as well as makes it less complicated to pass.

Epsom salt is offered at drugstores, grocery stores, as well as some price cut chain store. It’s usually found in the laxative or individual treatment area. When you consume Epsom salt for constipation, use plain ranges. Do not ingest scented varieties, even if the scent is made from all-natural oils.

Most of the times, Epsom salt is secure for grownups and kids over 6 years of ages to make use of. Infants as well as kids under 6 years of ages should not make use of Epsom salt internally or on the surface.

To deal with constipation with Epsom salt, follow dose guidelines. For grownups as well as kids 12 years old and also older, liquify 2-4 degree tsps of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water and beverage quickly. For youngsters 6 to 11 years of ages, liquify 1-2 degree tsps of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water and beverage promptly.

If you discover the taste of Epsom salt is hard to endure, try adding fresh lemon juice. If the initial dosage does not work, repeat after 4 hours. Don’t take greater than two doses of Epsom salt daily. Do not use it for greater than one week without consulting your physician. Get in touch with your medical professional if you don’t have a bowel movement after two doses.

Making use of Epsom salt externally might additionally relieve constipation. Liquify 5 mugs of Epsom salt in a bath loaded with cozy water. Taking in it might assist relax your intestine and soften your stool as you soak up magnesium through your skin. This could help generate a bowel movement.

Talk with your physician prior to utilizing Epsom salt if you have:

  • kidney condition
  • a magnesium-restricted diet regimen
  • extreme stomach discomfort
  • nausea
  • throwing up
  • a sudden change in your digestive tract practices lasting two weeks or more

What Are the Negative Effects of Epsom Salt?

When it’s used properly, Epsom salt is risk-free. Considering that Epsom salt has a laxative effect, it is very important to consume plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration while using it. All laxatives, consisting of Epsom salt, might cause light intestinal concerns such as:

  • queasiness
  • cramping
  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea

If they’re excessive used, laxatives might create an electrolyte inequality in your body. This may result in signs such as:

  • wooziness
  • weak point
  • an uneven heartbeat
  • complication
  • seizures

Tips for Protecting Against Constipation

Epsom salt normally produces a defecation within Thirty Minutes to 6 hours. A dosage or 2 must clean up severe constipation.

Epsom salt is just a momentary repair. If you do not determine the source of your constipation as well as take steps to prevent it, you’ll likely experience it once again. Your constipation could also come to be chronic. Paradoxically, the a lot more you depend on laxatives, the even worse your constipation may become.

Try the complying with ideas to stay clear of chronic constipation:

Relocate a lot more

The more you sit, the harder it is for waste to relocate through your intestinal tracts. If you have a workdesk work, pause and also walk around each hour. Buy a digital pedometer and established an objective of 10,000 actions per day. Routine cardio workout likewise aids.

Consume extra fiber

Add much more insoluble fiber to your diet plan from food sources such as:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • seeds

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and aids relocate via your intestinal tracts. Purpose to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.

Consume alcohol much more water

When your body ends up being dried, so does your colon. Make certain to consume alcohol lots of water or other non-sugary beverages, such as decaffeinated tea, throughout the day.

Reduce stress and anxiety

For some people, stress goes right to their intestine and triggers constipation. Try managing stress and anxiety via:

  • reflection
  • yoga
  • psychotherapy
  • strolling

Contact your physician if your stress and anxiety feels unrestrainable

Check your medications

Some drugs, such as opioids, sedatives, or blood pressure medications, could cause chronic constipation. If you take medications that trigger constipation, ask your physician if a non-constipating option is available.

The Takeaway

Every person experiences constipation from time to time. When it’s used as routed, Epsom salt is a reliable, FDA-approved option to stimulant laxatives. As long as you make use of Epsom salt in suggested dosages, the negative effects need to be very little and also mild. In the case of laxatives, less is more. You must utilize just necessary to get outcomes.

If you have any issues concerning Epsom salt or you experience severe negative effects, stop utilizing it and also call your medical professional.

Constipation is an uneasy as well as embarrassing problem that causes less than 3 defecation in a week. This irregular defecation is caused mostly because of harmful diet regimen, incorrect lifestyle and also absence of exercises, which consequently triggers slow-moving motion of feces via the colon.

Tough feces, queasiness, stomach discomfort, straining during defecation, etc. are some symptoms of constipation. Stress and anxiety, dehydration, reduced fiber diet regimen, laxative abuse, hormonal inequalities, and so on are various other root causes of constipation.

Constipation needs to be treated quickly, otherwise it causes various other serious problems like anal cracks, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, etc

. However, there are several ways to treat constipation but selecting the all-natural methods are the most effective as well as most effective for treating constipation.

Epsom salt is one such all-natural remedy that serves as a laxative to clear constipation. Right here in this write-up, we will learn about Epsom salt for treating constipation.

Let’s get started …

How Does Epsom Salt Reward Constipation?

Epsom salt is an FDA– approved laxative that assists to soothe your constipation normally. It is made up of minerals– magnesium as well as sulfate, which are well known to soothe the aching muscle mass or body pains.

When it is taken inside, it works as an osmotic laxative that boosts the water in the intestine, softens the feces and thereby cleanses the colon to get rid of waste.

The magnesium in this salt assists to promote the contraction of digestive tract muscular tissues as well as hence eliminate the feces quickly.

It acts as a cleansing agent that aids to cleanse the colon and also enhance routine bowel movement.

The best ways to utilize Epsom Salt for Constipation?

As opposed to utilizing stimulant laxatives, you could utilize Epsom salt for a quicker and mild way to ease your constipation. You will obtain defecation within 30 minutes to 6 hours after utilizing Epsom salt, so hug to bathrooms.

Method– 1: (Epsom Salt– Internal Intake)

Epsom salt can be taken inside for dealing with constipation. Here is the recommended dosage to take the Epsom salt for cnstipation.

For adults as well as kids (12 years or over)– liquify 2 to 4 teaspoons of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water (choose warm water) and also beverage right away.

For Youngsters (6– 11 years)– dissolve 1 to 2 tsps of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water as well as consume it right away.

If you’re unable to endure the taste of Epsom salt after that try adding some fresh lemon juice into this Epsom seawater as well as consume it.

Note:.

Never ever before go beyond greater than 2 dosages of Epsom salt daily and also avoid the usage of Epsom salt for more than 1 week continuously without consulting your medical professional.

If the first dosage of Epsom salt doesn’t function then you could duplicate the exact same process after 4 hours to obtain relief from constipation.

Or you can blend Epsom salt in the fruit juice as well as drink it.

Technique– 2: (Epsom Salt– Outside Application)

The exterior application like bathing will certainly likewise help you to alleviate constipation. Soaking in this warm Epsom salt water will certainly unwind the intestine muscles and also soak up magnesium via the skin to soften the stool to boost the defecation.

Here are few means of following Epsom salt bathroom for treating constipation.

Liquify 5 cups of Epsom salt in your bath tub loaded with warm water. Stir well and also soak in this water for 10– 15 mins. Afterwards, wash your body thoroughly with water. Repeat the exact same process frequently to get eliminate the problem.

Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda and ginger powder as well as 2 mugs of Epsom salt in your bath tub loaded with cozy water. Mix well and take in this water for concerning Thirty Minutes to get rid of toxic substances and constipation. Repeat it when a week as well as consequently thrice a week till you cleared the problem.

For kids above 6 years old, mix 1/2 mug of Epsom salt in warm water filled in their bathtub. Soak them for 10– 15 minutes and rinse with regular water. Dry their skin and use some olive oil or castor oil or hemp oil into their abdominal area as well as massage therapy carefully on 2– 4 inches from the belly base.

Keep in mind: Make certain to drink lots of water and various other liquids while making use of Epsom salt, as it dehydrates the body or electrolyte inequalities.

Selecting the Right Epsom Salt:

Epsom salt which you’ll discover in the drug store is not meant for human usage. So, you need to be careful while picking the Epsom salt. The package ought to be noted as USP (United States Pharmacopeia) as well as check that in the drug facts box must show that it satisfied the requirements of USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

You can conveniently locate this Epsom salt in many organic food (or) medication stores (or) in online stores.

Do Expecting Ladies use Epsom Salt for Constipation?

Interior intake of Epsom salt is not suggested for expecting females, as it would harm the coming infant. So, if you’re expecting or preparing to become expecting after that consult your doctor before using this salt for treating your constipation.

It minimizes the body absorption of calcium and also creates bone troubles to your expected child. Epsom salt bath is not that much dangerous and you can appreciate this warm mineral seawater bath to obtain eliminate constipation together with maternity discomforts.

Nursing or taking care of ladies could use Epsom salt for constipation with some precautions. So, consult your physician prior to making use of the Epsom salt.

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As many of us know, chronic high blood pressure comes with many risks.

If your blood pressure is extremely high, your doctor may recommend daily medication. However, many people who receive a high blood pressure diagnosis may opt to lower their numbers, initially, through lifestyle changes. Unpleasant side effects associated with blood pressure medication can make natural ways to lower blood pressure a particularly attractive option.
Below are six natural, common sense options to explore with your health care provider…

1. Turn Off the Electronics and Take Time to Decompress

In 2013, Italian researchers found that consistent smartphone use for some may raise blood pressure readings significantly – from 121/77 to 129/82. (Keep in mind, the ideal standard is 120/80.) Researchers suggested it may be the unanticipated intrusion into daily life causing a sudden surge of stress.
Try to structure “phone call time” and “off time” if you can. Let others know when it’s best to reach you. Turn off smartphone alerts for social media apps. Turning off your phone when you’re eating dinner or a few hours before bed can be particularly helpful in reducing stress.

2. Find a Form of Meditation That Works for You

Meditation alone is not enough to substantially reduce your blood pressure. It cannot replace the importance of eating healthy, managing weight, reducing salt intake, and exercise, etc. — but studies have shown a positive effect, nevertheless. Different forms of meditation include: transcendental techniques, mindful meditation, relaxation response technique, prayer, or tai chi.
Yoga is another well-studied form of meditation that can alter blood pressure through practiced relaxation techniques and movement. University of Pennsylvania investigators found that people who practiced yoga 2-3 times per week lowered their blood pressure by an average of three points, from 133/80 to 130/77.

3. Take Relaxing Baths to Reduce Stress

One of the ways I like to stay frazzle-free is to end my day with a relaxing Epsom salt and lavender bath. You can absorb magnesium from Epsom salts which may help to promote lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
Korean researchers report aromatherapy with scents like lavender may help to reduce daytime blood pressure, hypertension, and cortisol levels.

4. Exercise

Regular physical activity increases the heart’s strength and may reduce the amount of force placed on the arteries by an average of 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). “That’s as good as some blood pressure medications,” the Mayo Clinic states. Exercise also reduces blood pressure by pumping blood through the arteries more rapidly, which stimulates endothelial cells in the blood vessel lining to produce nitric oxide – which expands blood vessels. It takes about three months of exercising 3-4 times per week to see one’s efforts pay off.
Some of the best forms of exercise for lowering blood pressure include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Climbing stairs
  • Active chores like gardening, raking, or mowing the lawn.

In his 2012 research, Dr. Glenn Gaesser found that spacing three 10-minute walks throughout the day worked better to curb spikes in blood pressure than one 30-minute walk. He also found that overweight people with high blood pressure who stood up for 10 minutes every hour had substantial improvements in blood pressure readings. “Exercise intensity does not appear to play any significant role” in helping people control blood pressure, Dr. Gaesser concluded. Movement is what matters most.

5. Get Sunshine Daily

Researchers first suspected that sunlight plays a role in blood pressure when they observed that people with mild hypertension had lower blood pressure in the summer than the winter, and symptoms were worse the further people got from the Equator. Indeed, blood tests revealed that UVA exposure causes a release of nitric oxide from the skin directly into the bloodstream.
As with nearly everything, sunbathing is not enough to significantly reduce blood pressure on its own. Healthy participants saw a drop in blood pressure between 2-5 mm HG, although it is suspected that people with high blood pressure would see larger decreases. Experts say the reduction in blood pressure from sunlight may reduce the risk of heart attack by 7% and the risk of stroke by 10%. Just 20 minutes outdoors (even on a cloudy day) may be enough to have a positive effect.

6. Eat Foods That MAY Naturally Support Healthy Blood Pressure

Everyone knows that reducing salt, fried foods, and excessive alcohol are important for managing blood pressure. What people may not know is that the following foods may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure:

  • Bananas – Eat a medium-sized banana to get approximately 420 mg of Potassium. Potassium causes the body to release more sodium from the body and eases tensions in the arterial walls.
  • Beets – One glass of nitrate-rich beet juice per day may reduce blood pressure by 8/4 mm Hg. (By comparison, the average blood pressure medication yields a 9/5 mm Hg drop.) Study participants saw a 20% improvement in blood vessel dilation and a 10% reduction in artery stiffness.
  • Blueberries – A cup of daily blueberries (or 22 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder) can increase nitric oxide levels in the body and reduce blood pressure by 5/6 mm Hg, according to researchers from Florida State University.
  • Celery – Eat four stalks (or one chopped cup) of celery per day. Celery contains a phytochemical called phthalides that relaxes the arterial wall tissues. You’ll also get fiber, magnesium, and potassium, which are important in blood pressure regulation as well.
  • Cherries – Drink one cup of tart Montmorency cherry juice a day for a possible 7% reduction in blood pressure. Researchers believe the phenolic compounds protocatechuic and vanillic are responsible for the effects.
  • Greens – Two cups of greens a day (in a salad or a smoothie) are recommended. Leafy greens like romaine, arugula, kale, spinach, collard greens, beet greens, and Swiss chard are high in Potassium.
  • Fish – Benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids may aid in the reduction of blood pressure.
  • Turmeric – Consider trying a couple of teaspoons of Golden Paste per day – in coconut milk, smoothies, salads, soup, or tea. Turmeric relaxes blood vessels, reduces inflammation, and improves endothelial function.

Of course, these are just a few of the many foods that may show support in helping to lower blood pressure. Eating a healthy and varied diet in addition to living a healthy lifestyle are the keys to creating lasting change.
Remember to always get your physicians seal of approval before making ANY dietary/lifestyle changes.

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Hypertension

What Is Known About Hypertension
Healthy Steps: Hypertension—First Steps
Healthy Steps: Hypertension—Full Program

You were feeling just fine, not even thinking when the dentist offered to check your blood pressure, obviously not the cause of your visit. Imagine everyone’s surprise when the number came out definitely high: 160/100. Not just a little high, but getting into the range of dangerously high. “Oh, wait your cuff must be off. My blood pressure is never that high!”

“But I can’t have high blood pressure; I feel fine!”

The story in the middle may vary, but the last sentence written above is almost always true: blood pressure creeps up without giving the least signal that something is off.

What is Known

Blood pressure is typically measured by applying a cuff or sleeve to the lower part of the upper arm. Tubing within the cuff is connected to a measuring device that can measure how much pressure is required to compress the whole arm enough to shut off the flow in the artery below the cuff, measured in millimeters of mercury. When the artery is fully compressed, that pressure is thought to match the peak pressure occurring with the beat of the heart. That number is the higher number, the upper number in the fraction and is called the systolic pressure. The lower number is the pressure in the artery in the rest phase of the heart beat cycle, the lower number of the fraction, the diastolic pressure.

Before measuring your BP, you should be seated leisurely and peacefully for 5 minutes. Their arm should be held supported (either on a platform or by the measuring person’s grasp) at the level of the person’s own heart. The cuff is inflated well beyond an anticipated systolic pressure and slowly deflated while the measurer listens with a stethoscope to the artery: the first appearance of the pulse sound is the systolic number, the last heard is the diastolic. It is considered most reliable to measure the blood pressure, wait several minutes and repeat the measurement. If there is a discrepancy, the lower number is probably more representative; it’s usually the second reading.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for other forms of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and diseases of the smaller vessels. Lowering blood pressure, by whatever means, reduces the risks of those secondary illnesses.

The overall frequency of hypertension in all US adults is about 30%. Hypertension is found at fairly equal rates in men and women; rates are higher in African Americans than in Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites. Among that 30%, one out of every five is unaware that they have high blood pressure. Only half of those with hypertension have their blood pressure controlled, or normalized, by some intervention, usually medication. Both disturbing figures are higher among minority groups and others with sub-optimal access to medical care. It is estimated that for every 10% increase in treatment, we might prevent 14,000 deaths per year. (From an economic point of view, think that most of those deaths occur on the public tab when uninsured folks report to the hospital for a critical cardiac event, undergo a lengthy hospitalization, and do not survive. It would obviously be a savings both in human and economic terms for those people to have access to health care.) In a worrisome trend, hypertension is appearing as an increasingly prevalent problem among adolescents and even children, parallel with the increase in obesity and the metabolic syndrome, currently above 3%.

Your physician will start by diagnosing hypertension based on three readings in the hypertensive categories listed below. Sitting at rest for 5 minutes, with your arm elevated to the level of your heart, your blood pressure should be measured twice. The second reading is more reliably representative of your background blood pressure values. The severity of hypertension is graded by somewhat varying scales into the following categories:

*Among hypertensives, about 65 % have only systolic hypertension, and it may be the most difficult to control. While it was previously thought that diastolic pressures were more predictive, any sustained elevation, of one or both numbers, is cause for intervention. Persistently high pressure, systolic and/or diastolic, raises your risk for heart attacks, strokes and congestive heart failure.

However, it is concluded that about 90-95% of all blood pressure elevation is due to “essential hypertension,” meaning that no cause can be found and easily remedied. I would differ with the use of “essential”, as many non-disease states (such as excessive stress or sleep loss) can elevate blood pressure. In these conditions, high blood pressure typically responds to the suggestions listed below, and you can change your “essential” hypertension to “past history”! After your doctor rules out thyroid and kidney problems, it’s your job to walk through the other possible causes of secondary hypertension. Get an upper arm blood pressure monitor that wraps around your upper arm, not your wrist, to monitor your blood pressure at home.

In a conventional medical practice, lifestyle changes (typically weight loss) are typically recommended for pre-hypertension, and medications added for stage 1 and stage 2 hypertension. The medications used to treat hypertension all appear as potential hazards in Dr. David Perlmuttter’s The Better Brain Book: The Best Tool for Improving Memory and Sharpness and Preventing Aging of the Brain, and those who take the meds are not surprised. Many of them have either minor or truly annoying side effects, including fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, frequent urination, and respiratory irritation. That said, it’s obviously safer to have normal blood pressure, and put up with a few side effects, if that’s the only way to regulate the numbers!

So let’s talk about those lifestyle and nutritional and supplement interventions that have successfully lowered blood pressure in some people. When people normalize what were previously deficiencies (e.g., magnesium, vitamin D) or excesses (e.g., body weight, fasting insulin levels), their blood pressure can also normalize, and their overall health improves. Stressful life situations can swing your body into a chronic state of “sympathetic overdrive”, where the “fight or flight” nervous system is constantly working more than it should. Some of the lifestyle interventions mentioned below can reverse these trends. If such simple interventions can achieve lasting results, that means there are actually fewer cases of “essential” hypertension than previously thought. Rather than hypertension being secondary to renal or thyroid disease, we can see that sometimes it is secondary to lifestyle or other hormonal imbalances. Correcting those imbalances will improve your blood pressure and your overall health.

If you have high blood pressure, I encourage you to read through the information below and see what steps you might take to lower your blood pressure on your own before it stays permanently in the elevated range and you become one more hypertensive patient. Try one or two at a time, stick with the ones that work. If you are already hypertensive, following some of these steps can reduce your need for medication – please consult with your physician about this possibility.

If your blood pressure does not come down with natural means, the safest step to take is to find the minimal dose of the best-tolerated pharmaceutical drug to lower your blood pressure into the normal range. Living with consistently high BP readings is very likely to diminish the quality and length of your life.

Healthy Steps: Hypertension — First Steps

  • Reduce your physiological stress messengers by deep breathing, yoga or meditation. Choose one or two of these to do for 15 minutes, once or twice daily.
  • Supplement with magnesium. Take Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurine daily with meals: take enough to relieve constipation, but not more. In addition, use some form of topical magnesium, either a mineral oil, a mineral lotion, or epsom salts baths. (Epsom salts are also called “Magnesium Sulfate”. Choose a form that is acceptable if taken orally, not one that says “Do not take internally.”)
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night and exercise daily: 5 days a week go for a 30 minute walk and 2 days a week do 15 minutes of High Intensity Interval Exercise, as described in the Lifestyle Section of the Diabetes Health Topic.

Healthy Steps: Hypertension — Full Program

Lifestyle

For hypertension, lifestyle comes first. There have been many studies evaluating different lifestyle changes that have helped some people lower their blood pressure. Not very many people do all of them, but read through the following list, you might be able to manage more of them than you imagine, and even one of them might work for you.

  • Lower your insulin levels. Your fasting insulin levels are probably high if you are overweight OR if you have an increase in abdominal fat. You can normalize both your weight and fasting insulin levels by following the Weight Loss Eating Plan or the Paleo Diet. Both eating plans eliminate the refined carbohydrates which can raise insulin and thus serum aldosterone levels, fluid retention and blood pressure. Follow the effectiveness of your eating plan by asking your doctor to check your fasting insulin levels. Ideal fasting insulin is 3-4 uIu/mL, so don’t go by the laboratory ranges for normal if you want to reduce elevated BP. (If you reduce your weight by other means – such as calorie counting – the effect on BP is less dramatic and less persistent.)
  • Eat Paleo. If you are not overweight, try the Paleo Diet. It has lowered blood pressure in non-overweight individuals.
  • Don’t smoke. Period.
  • Stay active. Gentle aerobic activity (walking, gardening, housecleaning) can help lower blood pressure, and bursts of interval exercise (twice weekly) are the most effective at reducing your risk of a heart attack.
  • Drink water. Drink enough water or non-caffeinated coffee and tea: 1/2 an ounce for every pound of your body weight, every day. Adding lemon, ice, or herbs to the water is fine. More water if you’re exercising enough to perspire!
  • Do some yoga. There is some evidence that regular participation in yoga classes can lower blood pressure, slowly and steadily.
  • Take a really deep breath. Alternatively, a good instant relaxer is deep breathing performed in a way to balance what might be an overly stimulated nervous system and elevated blood pressure. Sitting comfortably, take a deep breath. Breathe deeply enough that you feel your lower rib cage expand across your mid back, without raising your shoulders (check in a mirror the first time). Repeat ten times. Take your blood pressure before and after: you’ll know right away if this technique works for you. If it does, repeat the ten breaths, three times a day. A gadget called the RESPeRATE blood pressure lowering device is available for guidance in a well-researched breathing technique. The price tag is significant, so try the method I suggest first!
  • Sit in meditation. Medical studies on the benefits of meditation started not long after high-risk personality traits were identified. It seems now that meditation can be helpful across the board, whatever your personality type!
  • Avoid lead and cadmium. Toxic exposure to lead and cadmium can raise blood pressure; both usually come from old water pipes, and both should be easily filtered out with the chlorine using a standard water filter.
  • Sleep. If you are averaging 5 or less hours of sleep a night, your body responds with stress hormones that raise your blood pressure. Follow the natural measures listed here rather than resorting to anti-histamines or sleeping pills.
  • Acupuncture. Preliminary research suggests that acupuncture may prove to be a worthwhile alternative treatment for acupuncture.

Foods to Include

  • Follow a Paleo Diet. In recent studies involving both normal and diabetic subjects, the Paleo Diet lowers blood pressure, and improves other metabolic markers, better than the Mediterranean Diet, the current favorite of most practitioners. Both diets outperform the standard American diet, but that’s not saying much! (And if someone tells you there is too much red meat or too much saturated fat for your heart, tell them that is an outdated opinion that has been resoundingly reversed.)
  • Eat fish twice a week. Emphasize wild caught salmon and other cold-water fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and well-known to be helpful for cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and general reduction of inflammation.
  • Nuts! Eat a handful of crispy nuts three times a week!
  • Foods rich in Magnesium. Magnesium rich foods can begin to provide the magnesium that most of us are lacking. Focus on dark leafy greens, nuts (again) and seeds, fish, avocados, and a bit of dark (>70%) chocolate, about 100 grams daily seems effective, maybe even less.
  • Have salads and raw veggies. Consumption of raw foods might lower diastolic BP. Two generous plates full of salad every day is a great way to eat raw foods. Meat and fish can be eaten raw also, and should be carefully handled.
  • Flavor with garlic and onions. Garlic and onions have been folk remedies for hypertension for years. Happily, they make most food taste better: add freely if you enjoy them.
  • A small glass of pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice (naturally low in fructose) consumed daily has lowered some blood pressure significantly, and appears to be a heart-healthy fruit.
  • Enjoy dark chocolate! Dark chocolate consumption has been associated with a mild reduction in blood pressure. It is likely that both its magnesium and flavonol content are responsible. To keep quality high and sugar to a minimum, select organic dark chocolate and eat 1-3 ounces daily with meals. One of my favorites is Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa.

Foods to Avoid

  • Sweets. There is some risk of increased blood pressure with all kinds of sweeteners: sugar, fruit sugar (fructose) and even artificial sweeteners. Fructose is particularly interesting, with recent evidence that one soda a day is enough to double your risk of diabetes. A recent study correlated increased fructose (74 grams daily) in the diet with a significantly increased risk of hypertension. A safe level of consumption is below 25 grams per day: 3-4 pieces of fresh fruit OR less than 1/4 cup of dried fruit OR 1-1/2 cups of orange juice OR 3 cups of pomegranate juice.
  • Conventionally raised meat, or CAFO meat. Well, it’s not eating the meat – which I would like to say – but rather living near the containment feeding operations that crowds hundreds of animals into dense and unsanitary conditions. The airborne odors raised the blood pressure of neighbors spending time outdoors. Pasture-raised meat is better for blood pressure concerns because of its increased content of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, although no focused studies yet have verified a blood pressure effect.
  • Coffee and alcohol? Caffeine and alcohol can both increase blood pressure in sensitive people, an effect that should be evaluated on an individual basis.
  • Omega-6 rich vegetable oils. Vegetable oils such as soy and canola are fragile, often genetically modified, generally inflammatory and can promote hypertension. Cheap vegetable oils are at their worst as they degrade to hazardous compounds when they are re-used as in deep fryers in fast food restaurants.

Supplements

  • Whey protein. Seeming almost too good to be true, research has shown repeatedly that whey protein is a valuable adjunct to any effort to lose body fat, recover from metabolic syndrome, or lower blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors. In general, I recommend whey protein as a component of a post-workout smoothie. So on those two occasions a week when you are doing some strenuous exercise, make yourself a whey protein smoothie and consume it within an hour of exercising. I don’t recommend more frequent smoothies because of the extra caloric effect of liquid meals, unless one is a vegetarian and relies only on milk, whey, and eggs for protein sources.
  • CoQ10. People with hypertension tend to have low CoQ10 levels, and in some uncontrolled studies, supplementation with 30-225 mg/day resulted in significantly lower blood pressure readings, requiring several months for the effect to manifest. Bad news – that’s a long wait! Good news – that probably means it’s changing something structural, such as the metabolism or physiology of blood vessels. Find a CoQ10 product you can comfortably take for 3-6 months: it will provide other benefits, and that will be sufficient time to see if it will also lower your BP.
  • Magnesium. Magnesium can lower blood pressure, particularly if you have any of the other symptoms of magnesium deficiency: muscle cramps, irritability, headaches, palpitations, or constipation. Take enough Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurate to relieve constipation, but not more. In addition, use some form of topical magnesium, either a magnesium oil, magnesium lotion, or epsom salts (magnesium sulfate, suitable for oral administration).
  • Potassium. Potassium is helpful in many forms that have been shown to lower blood pressure, including 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, potassium supplements and by prescription. Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurate has the heart healthy balance of magnesium and taurine; 1-3 daily with meals may be helpful.
  • Vitamin D. Optimize vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure (avoid burning, build up your mid-day sun gradually) and supplement as necessary to maintain levels of 40-65 ng/mL.
  • Take fish oil. Barlean’s Omega 3 Swirl Fish Oil is an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, vital for cardiovascular health.
  • Vitamin C. Credited and accused of almost everything, vitamin C has also been observed to relate inversely to blood pressure: if your vitamin C levels are high, your BP tends to be lower, especially systolic BP. To avoid potential adverse effects, take vitamin C at double the usual recommended daily allowance (see your vitamin C container for specifics).

Controversies

  • What about salt? An area of some contention, it has long been thought that modest salt restriction lowered high BP in some individuals, not all. The most recent study noted here observed that low-salt diets were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular deaths and failed to lower high blood pressure!
  • Do we treat all abnormal BP readings? Clearly in some people, chronic pre-hypertension or modest hypertension seems to persist without added risk of other disease. However, most experts agree that once you edge up into the realm of Stage 1 Hypertension, an elevation in one or both of your numbers, your life quality and length will be improved by doing something to make sure your numbers revert to normal.
  • What about vegetarians? Although vegetarian diets have reduced blood pressure in some studies, they have no clear advantage over Paleo Diets in that regard, and raise the risk of nutritional deficiencies and other health problems. Vegetarian diets that include eggs and dairy are more likely to be nutritionally complete than vegan diets. Without eggs, vegetarians lack access to the important amino acid taurine.
  • Should I take calcium? Although calcium has been shown to lower blood pressure in some studies, it has also been associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease. If your vitamin D level is high enough, you will absorb all the calcium you need from a well balanced diet.
  • Quaker oatmeal? The studies that were done on oatmeal for breakfast compared it to refined grain cereal for breakfast, not to a healthy diet as described in either the Paleo Diet or the Weight Loss Eating Plan. Sneakiness in advertising I’m afraid.
  • Soy for heart health? Not in my book: too many risks with soy, including excess estrogen consumption, toxicity to good thyroid health, likely GMO contamination, difficult to digest carbohydrates, and high in the list of potential food allergens.
  • B vitamins are more complex. In addition to high BP, elevated homocysteine in the blood is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. I like to see levels below what is normally considered acceptable, hoping for values less than 10 micromoles per liter (mcmol/L). Levels of 10 or high could indicate either a B vitamin deficiency (common in vegetarians and vegans), impaired B vitamin absorption (common in folks over 50 and anyone who has taken a proton pump inhibitor for reflux), or an abnormality in the MTHFR gene, which “helps” your B vitamins do their proper detoxification job with your homocysteine. I’ll write a full article on this subject in the future, but for now – discuss with your physician the implications of an elevated homocysteine level

Are Epsom Salt Soaks During Pregnancy With High Blood Pressure Safe? Experts Weigh In

Even on the most sedentary of days, a pregnant woman’s muscles can ache. Add in a long day at work, chasing after toddlers, and taking care of things around the house and you have a compelling reason for hopping into a soothing bath at night. When an athlete complains of muscle soreness, they are advised to take a bath and add Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, to the water. If you’re pregnant, you may wonder if this treatment could help your aching pregnant body too. But what if you’re pregnant with high blood pressure — is Epsom salt safe? After all, salt is not your BFF when you have hypertension.

Go ahead and have that soak. Dr. Sherry A. Ross, an obstetrician and gynecologist in California and author of the book, She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., tells Romper via email that, “If you have been diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension or other complications of pregnancy, it is still safe to take Epsom salts baths while pregnant.” Dr. Ross says that Epsom salt baths have been around for centuries and have been used to help sooth muscle aches and pains in women whether they were pregnant or not.

The one thing you do have to worry about before crawling in the tub though, is temperature. As with any bath during pregnancy, be careful not “to make the bath too hot or soak too long, as that can raise a woman’s core temperature,” cautions childbirth educator Deena Blumenfeld, owner of Shining Light, a company that helps pregnant women through childbirth education, doula services and yoga classes, in an interview with Romper. Both Dr. Ross and Ms. Blumenfeld both warn that pregnant women should never ingest Epsom salts during pregnancy, unless you speak with your healthcare provider first.

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Epsom salt baths can be amazing in so many ways. Its origins go back to Epsom, England where the magnesium sulfate mineral was found bubbling up from an underground spring in the 17th century, according to Apartment Therapy. When they drank the water, they found it bitter tasting, but also found it to be a great laxative (as tempting as it might be to use this to relieve your pregnancy constipation, again, do not consume Epsom salts without consulting with your doctor). Over the years, people started putting the salts into baths and noticed how much it increased their ability to relax.

Michelle Crafton, an obstetrics nurse and co-owner of Tots To Bottoms, a childbirth, lactation and newborn preparedness company, tells Romper she often recommends soothing baths to the pregnant women she counsels, but there are some risks to be aware of. “Baths before bedtime could be beneficial, especially for expectant mothers who aren’t sleeping well because of the possible aches and pains of pregnancy, and adequate rest could help to reduce high blood pressure,” Crafton says. “Epsom Salt may decrease inflammation and swelling yet I would strongly recommend mothers consult with their OB or Midwife regarding the frequency and duration of soaking and any safety concerns specific to the management of their hypertension,” she continues. “I know it is possible that ‘bath salt intoxication’ exists with overexposure and this could possibly impact kidney function, so again, I would recommend mothers consult with their provider, especially if they’re at higher risk.”

While Epsom salt is readily available, the Epsom Salt Council recommended that you buy packages that have the USP label and a drug facts box to ensure that they have been approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).

Epsom salt baths are a great way to relax, and for the most part, safe to use during pregnancy. Now the only thing you need to do is to sneak away and find a few quiet minutes to enjoy it.

Using Epsom Salt to Relieve Constipation

Consuming Epsom salt increases the amount of water in your intestines, which softens your stool and makes it easier to pass.

To treat constipation with Epsom salt, follow dosage guidelines.

For adults and children 12 years old and older, dissolve 2 to 4 level teaspoons of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water and drink the mixture immediately.

For children 6 to 11 years old, dissolve 1 to 2 level teaspoons of Epsom salt in 8 ounces of water and drink immediately.

If you find the taste is hard to tolerate, try adding fresh lemon juice.

Epsom salt usually produces a bowel movement within 30 minutes to six hours.

After four hours, the dose can be repeated if you don’t get results. But taking more than two doses of Epsom salt daily isn’t recommended.

Don’t use it for more than one week without consulting your doctor, and contact your doctor if you don’t have a bowel movement after two doses.

Using Epsom salt externally might also relieve constipation. Soaking in it may help relax your gut and soften your stool as you absorb magnesium through your skin. This may help produce a bowel movement.

Talk to your doctor before using Epsom salt if you have:

  • kidney disease
  • a magnesium-restricted diet
  • severe stomach pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • a sudden change in your bowel habits lasting two weeks or more

Side effects of Epsom salt | Side effects

When it’s used correctly, Epsom salt is considered safe. Since it has a laxative effect, it’s important to drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration while using it.

All laxatives, including Epsom salt, may cause mild gastrointestinal issues like:

  • nausea
  • cramping
  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea

If they’re overused, laxatives may cause an electrolyte imbalance in your body. This may lead to symptoms like the following:

  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • an irregular heartbeat
  • confusion
  • seizures

Causes of constipation | Causes

Constipation is often caused by lifestyle factors, such as:

  • a low-fiber diet
  • a lack of exercise
  • dehydration
  • stress
  • laxative overuse

Women may also experience constipation during pregnancy.

Serious conditions that are linked with constipation include:

  • intestinal blockages
  • pelvic floor muscle problems
  • neurological conditions, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, or Parkinson’s disease
  • diabetes
  • thyroid problems

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salt, is a mineral. It works by replacing magnesium in the body and increasing water in the intestines.

Magnesium sulfate can be used orally as a laxative to relieve occasional constipation, and to treat low levels of magnesium.

Known as hypomagnesemia, low magnesium levels can be caused by alcoholism, severe diarrhea, malnutrition, or high calcium levels (hypercalcemia). Symptoms include fatigue, muscle cramps or spasms, convulsions, and erratic eye movement (nystagmus).

Some people use Epsom salts as a bath soak. It may help to relieve sore muscles, draw out splinters, and to ease the pain of sprains and bruises.

The medicine can be used intravenously (through an IV) to control seizures in pregnant women and certain children. It can also be used to treat a dangerous arrhythmia, lower high blood pressure, slow down contractions during labor, and treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Magnesium sulfate can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC), or it can be administered in a clinic setting.

Magnesium Sulfate Warnings

Don’t use a higher dose of magnesium sulfate than is recommended on the package or by your doctor. Taking too much of this mineral can cause serious, life-threatening side effects.

Before taking magnesium sulfate, you should tell your doctor if you have:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • A stomach or intestinal disorder
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A perforated bowel
  • A bowel obstruction
  • Severe constipation
  • Colitis
  • An eating disorder

Also, tell your doctor if you’ve experienced a sudden change in bowel habits, have been on a low-magnesium diet, or have been using a laxative for longer than a week.

You shouldn’t take magnesium sulfate if you are pregnant and expect to deliver the baby within two hours.

If you experience rectal bleeding or you don’t produce a bowel movement after using magnesium sulfate as a laxative, call your doctor immediately. You may have a more serious condition.

You should tell your doctor you are taking magnesium sulfate before having any type of surgery, including dental procedures.

Also, alert your physician if you drink alcohol or caffeine, if you smoke, if you use street drugs, or if you are dehydrated before taking magnesium sulfate.

Pregnancy and Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is a pregnancy category D drug, which means it could harm an unborn baby. You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before taking this mineral.

Magnesium sulfate may cause low levels of calcium and bone problems in an unborn baby if taken for longer than five to seven days during pregnancy.

It’s not known if magnesium sulfate passes into breast milk and harm a breastfeeding baby. You should talk to your doctor before breastfeeding while taking this medicine.

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While no clinical trials have confirmed the benefits of Epsom salt, many doctors promote it for its ease of use, reasonable price and minimally invasive delivery.

Naoki Umeda, MD, from Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, shares seven valuable insights on the health benefits of Epsom salt as well as its recommended usage:

It’s nothing like table salt. Epsom salt was named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. It is one of many naturally occurring mineral salts, a compound of magnesium and sulfate.

Epsom salt is good for the mind. Epsom salt helps stabilize mood and relieve stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, some researchers claim that taking magnesium increases serotonin (happiness or relaxation hormone) production in the brain.

Epsom salt is good for the body. Epsom salt helps relax muscles and relieve pain in the shoulders, neck, back and skull. For example, by relaxing the muscles surrounding the skull, the magnesium in Epsom salt may help release a headache or migraine.

Some researchers also think that magnesium is good for reducing inflammation in internal organs. This may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve digestion/bowel movement. Integrative medical experts commonly recommend Epsom salt to patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and cold intolerance.

What about Epsom salt’s ability to correct a magnesium deficiency? While doctors expect better magnesium absorption through the skin, there’s no published research that compares oral magnesium supplementation with magnesium absorption through the skin.

It only takes 15 minutes to benefit. Put 300 grams of Epsom salt into a bathtub filled with hot water. In just 15 minutes, you will start to experience the mental and physical benefits of Epsom salt.

Epsom salt is for external use only. Some may claim that drinking Epsom salt is good for detoxification. The truth is that drinking Epsom salt causes some people to experience serious side effects such as severe diarrhea. Sudden and dramatic changes in bowel behavior can be very dangerous and cause dehydration and discomfort. There are no studies to prove that taking Epsom salt orally is safe or beneficial.

It’s bad for people with severe skin inflammation or infection. No one with an open wound or a severe burn should use Epsom salt. If you have an open wound, consult your dermatologist before use.

Buy Epsom salt from a reputable source. Healthy supermarkets (e.g., Whole Foods Market or Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market) typically offer the best quality Epsom salt. Be sure to buy 100 percent magnesium sulfate. Beware of online retailers who may offer exceptional deals but cannot guarantee quality or purity.

Epsom Salt: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Many people, including some healthcare professionals, claim Epsom salt is therapeutic and use it as an alternative treatment for several conditions.

Provides Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, the first being calcium.

It is involved in more than 325 biochemical reactions that benefit your heart and nervous system.

Many people do not consume enough magnesium. Even if you do, factors such as dietary phytates and oxalates can interfere with how much your body absorbs (2).

While magnesium sulfate has value as a magnesium supplement, some people claim that magnesium may be better absorbed via Epsom salt baths than when taken by mouth.

This claim is not based on any available evidence.

Proponents of the theory point to an unpublished study in 19 healthy people. The researchers claimed that all but three of the participants showed higher blood magnesium levels after soaking in an Epsom salt bath.

However, no statistical tests were performed and the study lacked a control group (3).

As a result, its conclusions were unfounded and highly questionable.

Researchers agree that magnesium is not absorbed through people’s skin — at least not in any scientifically relevant amounts (1).

Promotes Sleep and Stress Reduction

Adequate magnesium levels are essential for sleep and stress management, likely because magnesium helps your brain produce neurotransmitters that induce sleep and reduce stress (4).

Magnesium may also help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep (5).

Low magnesium levels may negatively affect sleep quality and stress. Some people claim that taking Epsom salt baths can reverse these issues by allowing your body to absorb magnesium through the skin.

It’s more likely that the calming effects of Epsom salt baths are simply due to the relaxation caused by taking hot baths.

Helps With Constipation

Magnesium is often used to treat constipation.

It appears to be helpful because it draws water into your colon, which promotes bowel movements (6, 7).

Most often, magnesium is taken by mouth for constipation relief in the form of magnesium citrate or magnesium hydroxide.

However, taking Epsom salt is also said to be effective, although it is not well studied. Nevertheless, the FDA lists it as an approved laxative.

It can be taken by mouth with water according to the directions on the package.

Adults are usually advised to take 2–6 teaspoons (10–30 grams) of Epsom salt at a time, dissolved in at least 8 ounces (237 ml) of water and consumed immediately. You can expect a laxative effect in 30 minutes to 6 hours.

You should also know that consuming Epsom salt may produce unpleasant side effects, such as bloating and liquid stool (7).

It should only be used occasionally as a laxative, not for long-term relief.

Exercise Performance and Recovery

Some people claim that taking Epsom salt baths can reduce muscle soreness and relieve cramps — both important factors for exercise performance and recovery.

It is well known that adequate magnesium levels are helpful for exercise because magnesium helps your body use glucose and lactic acid (8).

While relaxing in a hot bath may help soothe aching muscles, there is no evidence that people absorb bathwater magnesium through their skin (1).

On the other hand, oral supplements can effectively stave off magnesium insufficiency or deficiency.

Athletes are prone to low magnesium levels, so health professionals often recommend that they take magnesium supplements to ensure optimal levels.

While magnesium is clearly important for exercise, the use of bath salt to enhance fitness is not well researched. At this point, the supposed benefits are purely anecdotal.

Reduced Pain and Swelling

Another common claim is that Epsom salt helps reduce pain and swelling.

Many people report that taking Epsom salt baths improves symptoms of fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Again, the magnesium is deemed responsible for these effects, since many people with fibromyalgia and arthritis are deficient in this mineral.

One study in 15 women with fibromyalgia concluded that applying magnesium chloride to the skin may be beneficial for reducing symptoms (9).

However, this study was based on questionnaires and lacked a control group. Its results should be taken with a grain of salt.

Summary Most of the purported benefits of Epsom bath salts are anecdotal. On the other hand, oral magnesium supplements may benefit sleep, stress, digestion, exercise, and pain in people who are deficient.

The Difference Between Epsom and Magnesium Salt

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I’ve started a little ‘after work ritual’ that I want to share with you because it’s really making a huge difference to my evenings and it’s cheap and easy to do. Would you believe, I can even do this with the kids home with me! (It just takes 20 minutes which is about the same time it takes for the kids to eat an after school snack and watch one episode of SpongeBob)!

I’ve been taking a warm bath loaded with Magnesium Chloride flakes, and it has changed my life! Before I tell you all about how good this is for you, I want to explain the difference between Magnesium Chloride and Epsom Salt (because they look the same).

Epsom Salt vs. Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium Salts (technically called Magnesium Chloride), is the compound you find in all Magnesium supplements and it has a different molecular structure than Epsom Salts. The molecular structure of Magnesium Chloride is much more easily absorbed into the body than that of Epsom Salt. So while both are wonderful, I find the effects of Magnesium Chloride much more intense. Magnesium typically comes from seawater and is often offered to those with severe Magnesium deficiencies. In comparison to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Chloride is not usually recommended to be ingested, unless food-grade.

Epsom Salt is actually a form of Magnesium. Its compound name is Magnesium Sulfate and it looks a lot like salt! Magnesium Sulfate is traditionally used in baths, but can be safely ingested as well (if food-grade). It is believed that Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, so while you are relaxing in an Epsom Salt bath, your skin will be soaking up the goodness. Epsom Salt benefits are vast – when Epsom Salts are absorbed into your skin they can help relax and rejuvenate tired limbs and leave you feeling refreshed and energised. That’s a pretty impressive bath!

If you’re looking for some great Magnesium products I highly recommend the Amazing Oils brand of Magnesium. I discovered this company at a health expo – they rubbed some of their Magnesium Oil on my shoulders and instantly I felt great. Plus it’s 100% pure, sourced and made right here in Australia, and completely toxin and heavy metal free. Whether you’ve been on your feet all day, had a crazy day at the office, or both, a warm soak in these Organic Magnesium Chloride Flakes can help you relax and recharge.

What are the benefits of Magnesium Chloride?

Magnesium is a central building block for life on earth. It’s the organising atom in chlorophyll, converting sunlight to energy in plants. In the human body, magnesium is present in over 300 enzyme systems, regulating blood pressure, synthesising proteins, and monitoring muscle and nerve functions. It’s everywhere!

The benefits of topical Magnesium Chloride

The health benefits of Magnesium Chloride may be utilised to their fullest potential when absorbed through the skin. Magnesium supplements can also be taken orally, but their bioavailability can be diminished by their contact with stomach acids and digestive enzymes – this depends on the formula.

At Nourished Life, we also love the Elektra Magnesium range. My personal favourite is the Elektra Magnesium Cream in Island Spice because it smells amazing and is nice and easy to apply thanks to delicious natural ingredients like Shea Butter, Coconut Oil and Mango Butter. I also love adding the Elektra Magnesium Mineral Salt Flakes to the bath, but these are actually food grade so you can put them in your drinking water too!

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