I used to do hot yoga, which made me pour sweat for ninety minutes. When I finished each class I felt weary and lightheaded but amazing for the rest of the day. A detox bath is similar.
After a detox bath, you may feel exhausted, lightheaded, a bit nauseous and very thirsty. Your body may continue to sweat long after you get out of the bath. The more toxins your system needs to eliminate, the more severe the after-effects of the detox bath.
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Benefits After a Detox Bath
Benefits of taking a detox bath on a regular basis include lightening the toxic load. When you reduce the toxic load on your system, your liver can function more efficiently.After a regular practice of taking detox baths you might experience any or all of the following:
- Decreased joint pain
- Reduced muscle pain
- Increased circulation
- Relief from stress and anxiety
- Improved skin tone
- Better sleep
Just think about it: If your system is not full of chemicals, pesticides, pollutants and heavy metals, you can expect to reduce your chances of contracting chronic illnesses and live a healthier life. And if you already suffer from chronic pain, you may experience symptom reduction. Read this post for much more about why hot baths boost mental health.
However, in the short term, you might feel worse after taking a detox bath before you feel better.
How You’re Likely to Feel Right After a Detox Bath
You may experience a range of unpleasant symptoms immediately after a detox bath. These include:
- Flu-like aches and pains
During a detox bath poisonous elements are literally being pushed out of your system. If you’ve ever done a yeast-kill diet or eliminated processed sugars and wheat from your diet, you’re familiar with the feeling. As the yeast or other bacteria die off, you can feel terrible.
The more bad stuff going out, the worse you might feel. (That said, you want to go slowly and you don’t want to overtax your system by detoxing too often or intensely. More on this in a minute.) If you’re unsure of whether a detox bath is for you or if you’re responding appropriately, talk to your doctor.
I’ve heard of people with joint pain who feel instantly better after a detox bath, so everyone is different. The hope is that even if you don’t get instant relief that you’ll feel better over time.
How a Detox Bath Reduces Toxins
Since ancient times, people have practiced detoxification of the body. Toxins are heavy metals, pollutants, pesticides, and other chemicals that enter our bodies through foods, makeup, shampoos, toothpaste, and environmental pollution. These substances impair our bodily functions from our nervous systems to our digestive systems.
I once tested very high for mercury poisoning. It probably all went back to Halloween at age 10 when I downed the entire bag of candy in about a week. I remember that the dentist found a gazillion cavities in the next visit, which he promptly filled with silver amalgam.
In any case, after I discovered the toxins in my system, I replaced my fillings and I did begin to feel my symptoms of muscle pain and fatigue improve.
What is the Toxic Load?
No bath is going to cure mercury toxicity, especially if the root cause is still literally in the body, assaulting you every second of your life.
However, a detox bath has the potential to reduce the amount of toxins that aren’t repeatedly being inflicted on your body. In other words, a detox bath can lessen the “toxic load.” This is the term used by integrative medical practitioners to refer to the sum of the toxicity one person’s body must endure.
Dr. Mark Hyman was the integrative doctor who tested me for mercury. (And after that he became hugely famous.) Here is how he defines toxic load on his blog:
“Total load is the total amount of stressors on your system at any one time–it’s like what happens when a glass fills over with water. It takes a certain amount of water to fill the glass and then, after a certain point, you put more in and it overflows.”
While everyone has some toxic metals in their system and almost all of us ingest pesticide residue and GMO foods, it’s when a critical threshold is reached beyond which the body cannot properly function that our systems go haywire. This is the toxic load.
The Importance of Sweat in Decreasing Toxic Load
Normally, our bodies have plenty of built-in functionality to get rid of toxins. Our livers filter out bad stuff and then push it through our system for elimination. We detoxify through sweating, peeing and pooping. Additionally, women may get rid of toxins through menstruation.
Interestingly, several studies have looked at which form of bodily detoxification gets rid of the highest concentration of toxins. The winner? Sweat!
In one meta-analysis of 24 other studies, researchers looked at arsenic, lead, mercury and cadmium, which are all heavy metals that can cause illness in humans. The researchers found that sweating was an effective way to rid the body of these toxins.
I visited a place called Sauna Valley at Spa Castle in Dallas Texas. (You can read my full review here.) In addition to having all kinds of hot tubs and pools, the Spa Castle saunas are specifically devoted to helping visitors sweat out toxins.
How Often to Take a Detox Bath
It’s best to start out slowly and see how you react. Try one detox bath a week for several weeks, before you consider going to twice a week.
As you eliminate more toxins from your body, over time you should feel better, not worse. Any residual effects you feel after a detox bath should become less pronounced, not more.
Caution: Who Should Not Take a Detox Bath
Anyone who is pregnant should not take a detox bath. If you have cardiac, blood pressure or circulation problems, another chronic illness or are over 70 years old, you should consult a doctor first. Infants and children should not take a detox bath without first consulting a pediatrician. See this post for information about how to skin patch essential oils for sensitivity before use.
Important Steps Before a Detox Bath
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When I did hot yoga, I actually passed out on my yoga mat once.I live in Texas and it was 105 degrees out that day which raised the temperature in the studio by a lot. The next class lined up to come into the studio, but they couldn’t because I was still out of it.
However, I probably could have made it through the class had I begun hydrating 24 hours before the class started, as the teachers always warned us to do.
The point here is that if you know you’re going to take a detox bath, start guzzling the water at least a few hours before. You will sweat a lot during and after the detox bath, so you want to hydrate to avoid getting lightheaded once you come out. (You should continue drinking water during and after your bath, too!)
2. Get Your Bathroom Ready
In some cultures, turmeric is used to dye fabric. My detox bath recipe contains turmeric. Since you probably don’t want to dye your bath mat or bath towels, you should put a dark-colored towel (or old T-shirt) on the bathroom floor and set a dark-colored towel within arm’s reach for when you get out and need to dry off.
3. Dry Brush Your Skin
Many cultures have a practice of dry brushing skin to stimulate the lymphatic system and slough off dead skin cells before bathing. You can dry brush your skin before you get into the detox bath. This should stimulate even more sweating.
Try using a loofah, a Korean Scrub Glove, or a kese glove that is part of the Turkish bath ritual. Any of these will work great, though I’m a personal fan of the kese glove.
4. Go Next Level, And Drink Ginger Tea
If you’re really hard core about this, you might drink a cup of ginger tea before you get into the detox bath. This will fast-track your sweating process. I don’t do this myself, but I’ve heard about people who do.
Plug the drain. Turn on warm or hot water and then add the following ingredients under the tub spout, so that the water pressure will disperse the ingredients throughout your bath water:
- 2 Cups Epsom Salt
- 1 Cup Baking Powder
- ¼ Cup Dried Ground Turmeric (the spice)
- ¼ Cup Dried Ground Ginger (the spice)
- 4 Tbsp Coconut Oil (melted down)
- 10 Drops Eucalyptus Oil
- 10 Drops Tea Tree Oil
Mix the essential oils with the coconut oil in a bowl. Then give the water a swish with your hand to fully incorporate all of the oils and other ingredients into the bathwater. Get in and soak 10-20 minutes.
For my detox bath recipe that uses pink Himalayan salt, read my Ultimate Guide to a Himalayan Salt Bath.
And to get my favorite recipe for a clay bath, read Take a Clay Bath to Detox and Heal!
Do This After A Detox Bath
There are three important things to do immediately after you detox bath:
1. Rinse Out the Tub
As the water drains out of the tub, mix up the following ingredients in a bowl:
- ¼ Cup Dish Soap
- ½ Cup Baking Soda
- ½ Cup Warm Water
Once the tub is empty, run the shower a minute to rinse of the turmeric. Then apply the cleaning solution with a paintbrush or gentle sponge anywhere your tub looks yellowish from the turmeric. Leave it on overnight.
In the morning, you can wash off the solution with the showerhead (or if you take a shower, you should be all set). The water will rinse off any residue from the turmeric. If any turmeric still remains, give the tub a quick scrub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and it should look good as new!
If you’re really worried about your tub, consider cutting back on the amount of turmeric and ginger that you use in your detox bath. You will still benefit!
2. Drink More Water
I just can’t repeat this enough. You may be tempted to think “The bath is over. Now I’m done.” But that’s wrong. You’re likely to continue sweating even after, so continue to drink, drink. Drink.
3. Rest or go to sleep!
You’re body will probably be begging you for a nap or a good night of sleep. So give it what it needs so you can maximize the healing power of the detox bath you just took.
The Role of Each Ingredient in the Detox Bath
Let’s take a look at the role of each ingredient in The Bathtubber’s Detox Bath recipe, so you can understand how it potentially helps your body clear toxins.
First of all, Epsom salts have a distinct chemical makeup from table salt. And although both crystalize, if you tasted Epsom salt it would not taste “salty.” Epsom salt is made up of magnesium, sulfate and oxygen. Dissolving Epsom salt in bath water, releases magnesium.
There is loads of anecdotal evidence from people with chronic pain that bathing in Epsom salt helps alleviate their suffering. However, medical research has yet to show that the magnesium from Epsom salt is actually absorbed through the skin.
What science does show, though, is that magnesium plays a critical role in more than 300 bodily functions. We also know that a deficiency in magnesium can cause nerve pain and hamper the immune system. Therefore, it stands to reason that if we can absorb magnesium through the skin, it would make us feel better.
Research also demonstrates that taken orally, magnesium (and zinc) can hinder our bodies’ ability to absorb heavy metals into our bloodstreams.
And according to Medical News Today:
“The two main ingredients of Epsom salt are magnesium and sulfate. It is believed the combination of both ingredients stimulates detoxification pathways.”
Just to be clear, the quote above refers to the belief of detox bathers in the power of magnesium and sulfate to detoxify; it does not refer to a consensus by the medical community.
Baking soda, also called sodium bicarb, is made up of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It’s in The Bathtubber’s bath recipe because baking soda can soften the skin, boost immunity and foster detoxification.
Ginger is one of my favorite spices. I drink ginger tea whenever I catch a chill and want to warm up. Ginger contains 40 antioxidants. Not only can it improve signs of aging, but also it can increase skin elasticity.
As it turns out, ginger causes us to sweat whether we drink it or soak in ginger in the tub.
And as we already know, sweating helps us detoxify, so that’s why you’ll see this important spice included in almost every detox bath recipe.
This spice has so many incredible benefits. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron. For more than 4,000 years, Ayurvedic medicine has relied on this spice for its healing powers.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and curcumin is anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial. Taken orally, turmeric can detoxify the blood that goes to the liver and help the liver break down any toxins.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil is part of The Bathtubber’s Detox Bath Recipe because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Because tea tree oil is especially beneficial to the skin, it can help calm and rejuvenate the skin as it assists the liver in expelling toxins from throughout our bodies.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
There are more than 400 species of eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the species called “blue gum.” This essential oil is great for loosening congestion. (By the way, if you’re suffering from a cold, sinuses or allergies, you’ll want to read this post about how a hot bath can alleviate congestion ASAP.) This oil also boosts the immune system.
Take a Turkish Bath at Home for More Detoxification
If you want to switch up your detox bath routine, try a Turkish bath at home. Unlike a typical bath which is mostly water, a Turkish bath is mostly bubbles and very little water–unless you count the tremendous amount of sweat that will be pouring out of your every pore.
To create a Turkish bath in your home bathroom, you’ll turn up the water on your hot water heater, cover any drafts in your bathroom, run the hot shower (but you won’t be in it). Then you’ll rub yourself down with the kese glove, cover yourself in Moroccan soap, rinse and soak in a mound of bubbles.
If that sounds intriguing and you want to get all the detoxifying benefits of Turkish bath (also called a hammam) right at home, then read this post. I walk you through exactly what to expect and how to build your at-home hammam.
It’s quite an exhilarating experience. Plus, I can promise that after you detox from the Turkish bath, you’ll feel fantastic and your skin will glow.
And if you watch the video about my Turkish Bath at Home, be sure to check out the last minute of it! That’s the best part.
After a Detox Bath, Track Your Results
There’s one last thing to do after a detox bath–track your results in writing. Write down how you feel the next day. Are your symptoms better or worse? You might track symptoms by rating each 1-10. Over time, this will give you a clear picture of whether the detox bath is giving you benefit and how much.
It’s easy to say, “I think I feel better.” But after a few months of weekly detox baths, you really won’t be able to look back and assess the impact with any accuracy unless you’ve been taking notes.
Want to feel your best? Get our free bath recipe guide. Then bring on the bathtub bliss!