Epsom salt is a pregnant woman’s ally.

This natural remedy for aches and pains has a remarkably long history. It’s been used as a treatment for different pregnancy problems for centuries.

Here’s a look at the benefits of using Epsom salt during pregnancy.

What is Epsom salt?

Epsom salt isn’t actually salt. That’s because it doesn’t contain sodium chloride. Epsom salt is a crystalized form of magnesium and sulfate, two naturally occurring minerals.

These crystalized minerals were originally discovered as the “salt” we call them today in Epsom, England. Epsom salt has been in use for centuries.

How to use Epsom salt

Pregnant women can use Epsom salt while soaking in a tub. Epsom salt dissolves very easily in water. Many athletes use it in the bath to relieve sore muscles. They swear that it helps muscles recover after a hard workout.

Mix about 2 cups of Epsom salt into a warm bath and soak for about 12 to 15 minutes. Be sure to keep the water temperature comfortable and not scalding. Raising your body temperature too high by soaking in a hot tub is dangerous for your baby-to-be. For this reason, hot tubs (or very hot bath water) should be avoided during pregnancy.

The benefits

There are several benefits to taking Epsom salt baths during pregnancy. These are the top five reasons pregnant women recommend it.

1. Soothe those muscles

Pregnant women may find that a bath with Epsom salt helps ease sore muscles and back pain. It’s often recommended to treat leg cramps, a common problem during pregnancy.

2. Skin soother

Many pregnant women find that Epsom salt soothes stretching skin. It’s also recommended to speed the healing of cuts and minor sunburns.

3. Help with digestion

Pregnant women should not ingest Epsom salt unless your doctor has provided you with specific instructions and dosage recommendation.

4. Reduce stress

Magnesium is believed to be a natural stress reducer. Many pregnant women find that Epsom salt helps calm the soul.

5. Replenish salt

Magnesium deficiency is a health concern in the United States. Epsom salt may help replace some of what we are all missing in our diets. See your doctor if you’re concerned you aren’t getting enough salt in your diet. Do not ingest Epsom salt unless your doctor gives you specific instructions.

Is it effective?

Some research suggests that magnesium sulfate absorbs through the skin. That’s why it’s used in a bath. But some experts say that the amount absorbed is too small to matter.

No one argues that Epsom salt, when used in a bath, does little or no harm. That means that many doctors see Epsom salt as a safe way to find relief, even if the relief can’t be scientifically measured.

Other benefits

One study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology tracked women who were given magnesium sulfate intravenously to treat preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a potentially life-threatening condition that develops during a small percentage of pregnancies.

In the British-led study, pregnant women from around the world with preeclampsia were treated with magnesium sulfate. It cut their risk by more than 15 percent. In fact, doctors have used magnesium sulfate to treat preeclampsia since the early 1900s. The study backed up decades of use.

Epsom salt has also been used to treat digestive problems such as heartburn and constipation. But this treatment requires consuming Epsom salt. This is something you should never do without a doctor’s direction.

Where to buy Epsom salt

Epsom salt is available at drugstores and many grocery stores. You’ll find a variety of brands and prices. There’s no real difference between any of them. But during pregnancy, stick to straight Epsom salt.

Don’t use products mixed with herbs or oils in order to avoid allergic reactions or other complications.

Warnings

You should never eat Epsom salt. While pregnant, don’t drink it dissolved or inject it without the advice and assistance of a doctor. While rare, magnesium sulfate overdose or poisoning can occur.