Staying healthy amidst a pandemic is what’s on everybody’s mind right now. However…between learning to work from home, homeschool, socialize virtually, keep our houses germ-free, and stay abreast of the news it’s easy to neglect our regular self-care regimes. Yet, making the time to care for yourself is critical during these times of stress and uncertainty.
Obviously getting a massage, facial, or even a trip to the salon is out for now. However, one of the best, most convenient, and affordable self-care rituals is taking regular detox baths. We’ve written about the health benefits of detox baths before, and felt now was the perfect time to expand on the health benefits of this essential immune-boosting ritual.
Why detox baths?
People have been reaping the health benefits of detox baths (traditionally referred to as: “taking the waters”) for centuries. In fact, many famous hotels and resorts were originally built to accommodate the many tourists visiting local mineral springs.
These baths were recommended by doctors for everything from rheumatism and anxiety to skin conditions, cancer, and even malaria. And while science has not validated all these purported benefits, many a patron claimed to be healed by “taking the waters”—or better known today as hydrotherapy.
The proven health benefits of hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy refers to many different types of therapeutic treatments involving water. It can be as simple as a cold plunge at your local spa or a more complex water-based physical therapy offered at a clinic.
Different forms of hydrotherapy been proven to benefit a variety of bodily systems and ailments, including: pain, improving cardiac function, reduction of the stress hormones cortisol and aldosterone, improving nervous and musculoskeletal function, relieving of gastrointestinal and gall bladder ailments, reducing blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetics, reducing edema, negating or reducing the need for pharmaceutical intervention in laboring mothers via water birth, relieving perineal pain after birth, boosting immunity by increasing natural killer cells, T-lymphocytes and others, improving symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, eliminating, preventing, or improving acute and chronic skin conditions, helping weight-loss, and benefitting the respiratory system1.
Today, we have the luxury of recreating the benefits of these healing waters in the form of detox baths.
How to take a detox bath (general guidelines)
- Create the best conditions for detoxification by removing chlorine from your bath water by filling the bathtub with a shower head that has a water filter or use with a bath filter (we recommend 3000 Crystal Ball for the Bath or CWR Environmental Protection Products’ Bath Tub Filter). If you don’t have access to a filter, you can either use 5 capsules of Microhydrin or 5 capsules of Hydrogen Boost by Source Naturals emptied directly into the bathwater to neutralize the chlorine.
- To maximize detoxification, try dry brushing your skin to open up your pores and stimulate lymphatic flow. Brush toward the direction of your heart using firm, but comfortable strokes (it should feel like a really good exfoliation). Dry body brushes are readily available at natural beauty stores online.
- Have plenty of water handy as you’ll want to stay hydrated.
- Draw your bath as hot as you can comfortably stand it, as the point is to sweat! It should feel like a hot tub, but not so hot that it is uncomfortable or makes you feel dizzy.
- Add cool water until you feel comfortable.
- Plan on 10-40 minutes of soaking (depending on the recipe).
- Get out of the tub slowly to avoid dizziness.
- Follow with a shower in luke-warm water to remove toxins and cool down.
- IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: if you have heart disease, high blood pressure or if you are diabetic, check with your doctor before trying a detox bath. If you feel unwell in the bath, add more cold water or just get out!
These are general guidelines. Please refer to the recipes below for instructions specific to the particular bath recipe.
*Note: double the recipe for large, garden tubs and see our tip at the end for what to do if you don’t have a tub.
EPSOM SALT DETOX BATH
Ideal for: eczema, muscle pain, inflammation, post-workout, general detoxification, magnesium deficiency
- Add 2 cups of Epsom salt plus 2 cups baking soda (which helps the body absorb magnesium while neutralizing chlorine) to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.
- For eczema or other skin conditions, use just 1 cup Epsom salts and avoid very hot water as it may aggravate the skin.
IODINE DETOX BATH
Ideal for: fevers in adults and children, chronic ailments, acute illness (such as colds and flu)
- Add ¼ cup iodine (like liquid potassium iodide) plus 1 cup sea salt or Morton’s Pickling salt to your bath water.
- Bath water should be lukewarm for fevers, not hot.
- Soak 20-40 minutes for adults, 10-30 minutes for children.
*Note: if you haven’t used iodine before, we recommend a skin patch test before soaking. Iodine is not an allergen, but certain medications or substances that contain iodine (even if ingredients in that product have been mixed with iodine) may cause a skin or allergic reaction. To do a skin test, place a drop of the iodine on your wrist or inside of the elbow. Wait 24-48 hours to see if any redness or reaction occurs.
GINGER DETOX BATH
Ideal for: increasing circulation, accelerating detox, reducing cold and flu symptoms, and muscle pain.
- Stir two cups of Epsom salts and 2 tablespoons-⅓ cup of ginger (start with 2 tablespoons the first time and experiment, as not everyone’s skin can tolerate ⅓ cup) in a cup of water, then add to the bath.
- Soak no longer than 40 minutes.
Note: Adding ginger will cause most people to sweat profusely. Wrapping your body in a blanket immediately following this bath will help you continue detoxing/sweating for a couple hours. This can be very helpful if you’re trying to overcome an acute infection, like cold or flu.
Ideal for: boosting immunity, revitalizing the thyroid, remineralizing the body and skin (seaweed is rich in natural iodine and other trace minerals), alkalizing the body, heavy metal detox
- Add several pieces of dried seaweed (we prefer using large pieces of seaweed for easier cleanup, such as Kelp or Dulse) to a pot of boiling water.
- Boil for 20 minutes or until softened.
- Add the seaweed and its water to your hot bath.
- Soak for 20-30 minutes.
SESAME OIL SALT BATH
Ideal for: dry skin and stress
- Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt, 1-2 cups of sea salt (use inexpensive bulk sea salt from the health food store), and 1 cup sesame oil to your bath.
- Soak for 20 minutes.
- Use caution when getting out of the tub and wipe your feet right away, as the oil may make your feet and surfaces slick.
CLAY DETOX BATH
Ideal for: congested skin, heavy metal detox, weeping skin conditions such as psoriasis, bacterial concerns
- Mix ¾ cup bentonite clay with enough warm water to make a paste and apply to your entire body.
- Let dry for 5-10 minutes.
- Hop in the tub and soak (without washing off the clay) another 20-30 minutes.
What’s The Best Benefit of Detox Baths?
You can do them from the privacy of your own home (which is where most of us are hauled up these days)!
For best results, treat yourself to a detox bath 1-3 times a week.
No bathtub? No problem. All these recipes can be done as foot baths with excellent detoxification results. Just reduce the amount of ingredients by 3/4; so if a recipe calls for 1 cup of Epsom salts, use 1/4 cup in a large basin of water. For the clay bath, you can either apply the clay to just your feet and soak, or apply it to your whole body, leave on for 20 minutes, then shower off.