A quick shower in the morning or after working out has gained favor over a more leisurely soak with bathing ingredients carefully chosen to support internal cleansing, overall health and even to remedy specific ailments or injuries.
I first became familiar with the benefits of cleansing baths during my travels in Asia just before I launched into my corporate career after college.
The Japanese in particular greatly value cleansing baths, so much so that public baths remain popular even today. The Japanese favor using water as hot as a person can possibly stand with a special type of cloth used to exfoliate and thereby encourage detoxification via the body’s largest organ – the skin.
According to nutritional pioneer Dr. Hazel Parcells, 65% of body cleansing is achieved via the skin!
In America, bathing is viewed more for relaxation than detoxification as a general rule. The focus on bathing enjoyment can be observed at bed and bath stores where a plethora of artificially scented, hormone disrupting bubble bath concoctions are creatively displayed and are best sellers year round.
I would venture to suggest that health cannot easily be maintained over the long term without the regular incorporation of cleansing baths. If traditional cultures valued therapeutic cleansing baths back when our world was pristine with clean water, air, and unprocessed, additive free food, one can only imagine how important a gentle and regular detoxification bathing protocol is today given our toxic soup world with chemicals and other biologically disrupting agents nearly everywhere!
If the body is clogged up with toxins from the physiological stress of modern living and the chemical assault from every direction, it cannot properly utilize the nutrient dense food that is consumed.
How a Cleansing Bath Works
The reason water as hot as can be tolerated is typically used is because this initially draws toxins to the surface of the skin, as described by Dr. Hazel Parcells in her book The Pioneer Nutritionist Dr. Hazel Parcells in Her Own Words. Then, as the water gradually cools down, the toxins are pulled into the water via the principle of osmosis – the weak energy from the cooling water draws from the strong energy from the body heated up initially by the very hot water.
If the wisdom of cleansing baths appeals to you, below is a primer on four different types of therapeutic baths. Generally speaking, a cleansing bath 2-3 times per week with only one per day maximum works well for most people to keep elimination channels open and gently encourage the detoxification process on a regular basis.
Baking Soda Bath
Dissolve 4 cups of baking soda in a regular size tubful of water as hot as you can tolerate. Use more as needed if your tub is oversized. Stay in the bath until the water has cooled which will take approximately 45 minutes. Do not rinse after the bath – simply towel dry.
This bath is beneficial for exposure to irradiated food, swollen glands, sore throat or soreness of the gums and mouth. It is also beneficial for those with digestive impairment such as the inability to hold food in the stomach comfortably (source).
Epsom Salts Bath
Dissolve 2 cups of epsom salts in a regular sized bath. Use more as needed if your tub is oversized. The temperature should be comfortably warm but not overly hot. Soak for at least 12 minutes and up to 20-30 minutes. Rinse and towel dry.
The scientific name for epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium and sulfur are both critical nutrients but surprisingly can be poorly absorbed from our food. Soaking in epsom salts overcomes this problem as these minerals both absorb readily via the skin.
According to the Epsom Salt Industry Council, a simple soak is beneficial to heart and circulatory health, can lower blood pressure, helps ease muscle pain and eliminates harmful substances from the body. It also improves nerve function by encouraging proper regulation of electrolytes.
Soak in epsom salts 2-3 times weekly for general health maintenance or to alleviate the discomfort of bruising and sprains. An epsom salts soak also encourages detoxification of drugs remaining in the body after surgery.
Sea Salt and Baking Soda Bath
Dissolve one pound of sea salt or rock salt and one pound of baking soda to a regular sized tub of water (more if the tub is large) as hot as you can stand it. Stay in the bath until the water has cooled which will be about 45 minutes. If the bath is too hot, you can add some cold water if this is the only way you can manage to stay in for at least 30 minutes. Don’t ever add more hot water after entering the bath, however.
Do not rinse or shower but simply towel dry after the bath is complete. This bath will likely make you tired so do it in the evening before bed if possible.
This bath is therapeutic for any exposure to environmental radiation, x-rays, plane flights or airport screenings by TSA (source).
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Bath
Add 2 cups of pure apple cider vinegar to a regular sized tub of water as hot as tolerated. Use more as needed if your tub is oversized. Stay in the bath until the water has cooled which will be about 45 minutes. Towel dry and don’t shower for at least 8 hours.
This bath is a great overall detoxifier and for muscle aches and pains brought on by physical exertion. An ACV bath also draws excess uric acid out of the body. Uric acid is created when the body breaks down substances called purines in certain foods and drinks. Most uric acid is eliminated via the kidneys in the urine, but some folks such as those with gout can have issues with excess levels. An ACV cleansing bath can provide welcome relief for those with joint problems, arthritis, gout, bursitis, or tendonitis. It also is very helpful for those with excessive body odor problems.
Be sure to only do one bathing formula per day. Do not mix ingredients from different bath recipes. If you are pregnant, consult with your healthcare practitioner before commencing any detox bath routine.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist