Your guide to detox baths
As part of our Spring Cleansing and Self Care theme, we’ve been focusing on the benefits of detoxification.
This week we’re honing-in on one of my favourite strategies: detox baths. They might win the title of laziest health protocol in existence, but don’t worry. I’m here to share the convenient news that despite being inexpensive and relaxing, baths are an exceptionally effective tool when it comes to lightening the body’s toxic load.
Let’s be honest, the benefits of self-care and slowing down are often underrated in modern life, however many traditional cultures valued therapeutic baths for detoxification and health promotion. In fact, sauna and bath houses are still a widespread phenomenon in many parts of Europe & Asia.
I hinted last week about my reservations towards harsh detox protocols as they can result in depletion. The risk for ‘toxic’ folk (and that’s most of us) is that the toxins can often be reabsorbed due to our elimination channels being blocked up.
That’s why these days I’m a much bigger proponent of gentle liver support for improved detox and more of a focus on optimising the elimination process.
You’ve heard the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ however ‘you are what you don’t eliminate’ probably bears more truth. And one of the quickest ways to guarantee toxin removal is by leveraging the impressive capability of the skin.
The skin is the largest organ involved in the detoxification and excretion process and is responsible for removing a significant portion of the heavy metals, drugs and ‘endogenous’ or internally generated toxins in our bodies.
This process occurs predominantly via our sweat glands, of which the combined weight is equivalent to one of our kidneys!
Sweating is something that many of us take for granted, however it’s been found that there’s a substantial accumulation of toxins in the circulation of postburn patients, due to reduced skin function. This fact alone should highlight the power of this strategy!
By facilitating the process, baths and saunas increase the elimination of a wide range of toxins and can improve cardiovascular, autoimmune and other chronic health problems. In particular, detox baths – and there are many more variations than I’m able to mention here – provide even greater therapeutic effects, due to the health-promoting ingredients added to the water.
I recommend people incorporate this practice once or twice per week to assist cleansing, particularly for those who aren’t already sweating on a regular basis. It really is the cheat’s ticket to detoxification. You can lie back, relax, tuck into a good book and still get all the immediately tangible perks that come with the more drastic protocols: impressive mood and energy boost, radiant skin and clearer thinking, to name a few. Gain without pain is my kind of detox!
In all seriousness though, many of us spend the bulk of our existence in sympathetic dominance or a ‘fight or flight’ state. This is not conducive to the process of detoxification – nor to good digestive, reproductive, hormonal or mental health, for that matter. So, the very process of slowing down and deeply relaxing for 20-30 minutes is possibly the most powerful element of this protocol and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Here are two of my all-time favourite baths, both in terms of effectiveness and accessibility.
Epsom salt & bicarb bath
This bath is the next best thing to a sauna. It facilitates profuse sweating, even in a lukewarm bath and is noticeably restorative – simultaneously relaxing and invigorating. The salts are well-known for their soothing effect on muscle tension and have a remarkable effect on skin health and wound healing.
No doubt you’ve heard of Epsom salt before, however you may not have given any thought to why it’s so beneficial. ‘Epsom salt’ is Magnesium Sulphate. Magnesium and Sulphur are both critical nutrients for health, especially our detoxification pathways. Both minerals tend to be low in the modern diet, however research conducted at the University of Birmingham in the UK confirms that they are efficiently absorbed through the skin, during Epsom salt baths! It’s a good reminder that baths are not necessarily just about sweating and excretion but also absorbing important substances that can improve our health.
Bicarb has such effective protective and neutralising properties that it is sometimes used in treatment protocols for radiation exposure. Likewise, it is used intravenously to protect cancer patients from the harmful effects of chemotherapy.
Dissolve 2-6 cups of Epsom salts and ½-2 cups of bi-carb into a very warm bath and soak for 15 minutes initially, working towards 30 minutes over time, as you adjust to the practice. Rinse the salt off once you’ve finished.
It’s important to have this bath away from mealtimes, so that you can drink plenty of water before, during and after. It’s not uncommon to feel a little lightheaded after this bath if you get out and immediately proceed to rush around the house. Take some time to rest or lie down afterwards for 15 minutes whilst the body resumes homeostasis. Providing it’s not too hot, it’s a great one to do about an hour before bed as it will promote deep, restful sleep.
Apple cider vinegar bath
This bath is a fantastic overall detoxifier and is the best choice for anyone with symptoms of fungal or candida overgrowth such as urinary tract infections, athlete’s foot, ringworm, thrush, jock itch and dandruff. Apple Cider vinegar helps normalise the skin to its optimal pH which makes it an unfavourable environment for the yeast to thrive.
The vinegar is also chock full of trace minerals, enzymes and other nutrients that have a beneficial effect both topically and once they’re absorbed through the skin.
Dissolve 2-4 cups of apple cider vinegar into a very hot bath (as hot as comfortably tolerated). Remain in the bath for 30-45 minutes, or until the water has cooled down. Simply towel dry at the end rather than rinsing off.
Please note that these baths are not appropriate for everyone. Please consult your health practitioner if you are currently pregnant, have high blood pressure, heart problems or any other chronic health issue.