Safety and Side Effects

While Epsom salt is generally safe, there are a few negative effects that can occur if you use it incorrectly. This is only a concern when you take it by mouth.

First of all, the magnesium sulfate in it can have a laxative effect. Consuming it may result in diarrhea, bloating, or upset stomach.

If you use it as a laxative, make sure to drink plenty of water, which may reduce digestive discomfort. Furthermore, never take more than the recommended dosage without first consulting your doctor.

Some cases of magnesium overdose have been reported, in which people took too much Epsom salt. Symptoms include nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and flushed skin (2Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

In extreme cases, magnesium overdose can lead to heart problems, coma, paralysis, and death. This is unlikely as long as you take it in appropriate amounts as recommended by your doctor or listed on the package (2Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Contact your doctor if you experience signs of an allergic reaction or other serious side effect

How to Use It

Here are a few of the most common ways to use Epsom salt.

Bath

The most common use is taking what’s called an Epsom salt bath.

To do this, add 2 cups (about 475 grams) of Epsom salt to the water in a standard-sized bathtub and soak your body for at least 15 minutes.

You can also put the Epsom salt under running water if you want it to dissolve more quickly.

While hot baths can be relaxing, there is currently no good evidence for the benefits of an Epsom salt bath in itself.

Beauty

Epsom salt may be used as a beauty product for skin and hair. To use it as an exfoliant, just place some in your hand, dampen it and massage it into your skin.

Some people claim it’s a useful addition to the facial wash, since it may help cleanse pores.

Just a 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) will do the trick. Simply combine it with your own cleansing cream and massage onto the skin.

It can also be added to conditioner and may help add volume to your hair. For this effect, combine equal parts conditioner and Epsom salt. Work the mixture through your hair and leave for 20 minutes, then rinse.

These uses are entirely anecdotal and unsupported by any studies. Remember that it works differently for everyone and that you may not experience the reported benefits.

Laxative

Epsom salt can be taken by mouth as a magnesium supplement or as a laxative.

Most brands recommend taking 2–6 teaspoons (10–30 grams) per day, dissolved in water, as a maximum for adults.

Approximately 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) is generally enough for children.

Consult with your doctor if you need a more individualized dosage or if you want to increase the dose to more than what is listed on the package.

Unless you have the consent of a doctor, never ingest more than the upper limit of intake stated on the package. Taking more than you need could lead to magnesium sulfate poisoning.

If you want to begin taking Epsom salt by mouth, start slowly. Try consuming 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) at a time and gradually increase the dose as needed.

Remember that everyone’s magnesium needs are different. You may need more or less than the recommended dose, depending on how your body reacts and what exactly you are using it for.

Additionally, when consuming Epsom salt, make sure to use pure, supplement-grade Epsom salt that does not have any added scents or coloring.