Baths are great way to relax and wind down but they are also a great way to help the body detoxify. Detox baths use specific ingredients that promote excretion of toxins and absorption of nutrients through the skin.
Remember back in college when you had way too much hunch-punch and felt like you were sweating alcohol the next day? That’s because you were.
The skin’s 2 million sweat glands act as passageways for toxins from the lymph and blood to the external surface of the skin. About 30% of the body’s blood supply lays near the surface of the skin within the peripheral blood vessels. But, when you are hot, up to 60% of the body’s blood supply can flow through these peripheral vessels (9). Your body does this in order to increase sweat production and heat loss in an effort to cool your temperature. Detox baths and saunas take advantage of this fact to help detoxify the body. More sweat means more toxins removed from the body.
Your skin is just as good at absorbing as it is at excreting. This is why medications like nitroglycerine and substances like nicotine can be delivered to the body through a patch on the skin. Detox baths not only encourage sweating and toxin elimination, they allow your skin to absorb beneficial nutrients.
There are a million recipes for detox baths but there are a few common and inexpensive ingredients that are the core of most recipes. These ingredients can be used individually or in combination. There are links for creative detox bath recipes below.
1. Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate)
Magnesium plays a role in over 300 processes in the body. The liver uses copious amounts of magnesium for detoxification. This important mineral is one of the most common nutrition deficiencies in America. It is easily depleted by stress, excess sugar, alcohol, caffeine and poor digestion.
Magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin making Epsom salt baths an effective way to increase magnesium levels. Bonus, magnesium relaxes the nervous system so a bath before bed can help with sleep.
According to the Epsom Salt Council (1) the benefits of magnesium and sulfate include:
- Ease stress and improves sleep and concentration
- Helps muscle and nerves function properly
- Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes
- Help prevent artery hardening and blood clots
- Make insulin more effective
- It takes 20 molecules of magnesium to metabolize 1 molecule of glucose
- Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
- Improves oxygen use
- Flush toxins
- Improve absorption of nutrients
- Help form joint proteins and brain tissue
- Help prevent or ease migraines
- Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
Baking soda is a natural cleanser and deodorizer and is claimed to be anti-inflammatory (7). Baking soda is also an important addition to a detox bath if you do not have a water filter for your tub. It neutralizes the chlorine found in most water supplies, which you do not want to absorb into your skin. Baking soda is naturally aluminum free (10). It’s baking powder that you need to be conscious of avoiding brands with aluminum.
- Sea Salt
Sea salt (not table salt) in the bath promotes the release of toxins through osmosis and provides an abundance of trace minerals that are easily absorbed through the skin (8).
- Apple Cider Vinegar (raw, unfiltered, organic)
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is supportive of the skin. It helps restore the skin’s natural pH because it’s pH of 5 is within the skin’s natural pH range of 4.5-6 (10). Restoring skin pH to the normal range is important for balancing the “good” and “bad” microorganisms on the skin and soothing irritated skin. ACV also contains alpha-hydroxy acid that acts as a gentle exfoliator (2).
- Essential Oils
Essential oils are concentrated plant essences that each have unique healing properties and are easily absorbed through the skin. Dr. Mercola (4&5) recommends the following essential oils for each condition:
Stress: lavender, lemon, bergamot, peppermint*, ylang ylang
(*Peppermint can be invigorating and should be avoided in the evening.)
Insomnia: lavender, chamomile, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang
Anxiety: lavender, bergamot, rose, clary sage, Roman chamomile, mandarin orange
Detoxification: grapefruit, lemon, mandarin orange, tea tree
Use 5-10 drops of one or more essential oils to enhance your detox bath.
For more information about essential oils check out Dr. Mercola’s Ultimate Guide to Herbal Oils.
- Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay draws toxins from the body and provides an abundance of minerals that are easily absorbed by the skin. In addition, if you do not have a water filter for your tub a few tablespoons of bentonite clay can absorb chemicals in the water like chlorine and fluoride, which you do not want to absorb into your skin (3).
How to Take a Detox Bath
- Ideally, you will dry brush before slipping into your detox bath. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells and opens pores priming the skin to eliminate toxins and absorb nutrients.
- Fill the tub with warm-hot water.
- Mix in your detox bath ingredients and swirl tub water with your hand, foot or a wooden spoon to help ingredients dissolve.
- Soak for 20-40 minutes. Use this time to relax in whatever way you need. Maybe dim the lights, close your eyes and listen to Pandora’s spa radio or jam out to 90’s hip hop and flip through a trashy magazine.
- Get out of the tub slowly and carefully, as you may feel a little dizzy.
- Rinse your body in the shower with warm water.
- Drink a big glass of water with a pinch of sea salt added to rehydrate.
Detox Bath Recipes
Basic Detox Bath:
1 cup Epsom Salts
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Fancy Detox Bath Recipes:
Choose one ingredient or a fun recipe and treat your self to a detox bath. Use it as a chance to relax and get out of your phone. If you find yourself so short on time that you can’t commit to a full bath, try a footbath. You will feel many of the same benefits.
I find that it’s easiest to fit a detox bath into my evening routine. It’s a nice transition from the chaos of the day and I always sleep better on the nights I take a detox bath before bed.
Try this daily detox tool during the winter since you may not be as inclined to get in the tub when its 100 degrees outside.
Did you enjoy your detox bath? Do you have a favorite detox bath recipe?
Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to chat.
- Epsom Salts Council. http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/universal_health_institute_about_epsom_salt.pdf
- Wolfe, Liz. Skincare Saturday: Health benefits of detox baths!, The Purely Primal Skin Care Blog, 8/01/2015. http://purelyprimalskincare.com/skincare-saturday-health-benefits-of-detox-baths/
- 3 Natural Detox Bath Recipes, Wellness Mama. https://wellnessmama.com/8331/detox-bath-recipes/
- Mercola, How essential oils can help improve your life. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/17/essential-oils-improve-life.aspx
- Mercola, Ultimate guide to herbal oils. http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils.aspx
- Sarich, Christina. Essential oils for detoxing and boosting immunity. Natural Society, 5/29/2014. http://naturalsociety.com/10-essential-oils-detoxing/
- Sircuis. Baking soda a cure for humanity. 4/07/2015. http://drsircus.com/general/baking-soda-a-cure-for-humanity/
- Benefits of Redmond bath salt. http://www.redmondbathsalt.com/benefits/
- Bennett, P & Barrie, S. 7-day detox miracle, 2nd edition, Three Rivers Press, 2001, New York. p 80-81.
- Wolfe, L. (2013) Purely Primal Skin Care Guide. http://purelyprimalskincare.com
Disclaimer: I am not a Registered Dietician or licensed medical doctor. I do not diagnose or treat disease, but instead make healthy lifestyle recommendations for balancing the body and promoting optimal wellness. No recommendation or comment made by me should be construed as being medical advice or diagnosis.