Many of my posts recently have been less about food and nutrition and more about other ways to detox. I recently posted about infrared saunas. I think at this time of year saunas and baths are very appropriate. Not only are they relaxing, but they have many health enhancing properties, too. Simply soaking in the tub can relax sore muscles and help you sleep better, but what else can you do to make that bath not just luxurious, but also increase its detoxifying properties?
I’m sure many of you add lavender or other essential oils to the bath. Different oils are appropriate for different ailments. Today, however, I want to mention bath salts. I recently picked one up at Waitrose that at first glance seemed to be high in minerals without containing any toxic bromide. But I didn’t read the fine print. Now I know – all Dead Sea Salt products contain bromide naturally – and just because it is “natural”, does not mean it is safe or healthy!
Bromide, the reduced form of bromine, according to Dr. Brownstein*, “is rapidly absorbed in the intestinal tract” and competes with iodine especially in the thyroid gland. This disrupts normal thyroid function. In extreme cases it causes delirium, schizophrenia and hallucination. Even with low levels of bromide, you can suffer from depression, headaches and irritability.
Unfortunately bromide is used as an antibacterial agent for pools and hot tubs; in some countries crops are still sprayed with it and it is used as a fumigant. Bromine is also present in many prescription medications particularly to treat asthma, bowel and bladder dysfunction. It is even contained in some carbonated drinks like Gatorade and Mountain Dew – so it’s very hard to avoid!
I guess I can dispose of my bath salts and will have to stick with old fashioned Epsom salts.
But now to the benefits – Salt in general is high in minerals. Your skin, the largest organ in your body, is an excellent way to absorb these minerals quickly and efficiently. Epsom salt is a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. If you are a client of mine, we will certainly have discussed magnesium deficiency and supplementation. This is another way to supplement that is highly effective and inexpensive, too.
Magnesium helps to improve muscle and nerve function, reduces inflammation and improves blood flow and oxygenation while sulfates are necessary building blocks for healthy joints, skin and nervous tissue. The combination in Epsom salts can relax the nervous system, improve skin problems, soothe back pain and aching limbs, ease muscle strain, heal cuts, treat colds and congestion and draw toxins from the body.
In order to truly enjoy the health benefits, it’s important to allow enough time for the salts to have their full effect – get the candles ready, a good book, some calming music – and allow yourself 40 minutes of time just for you!
For the full effect, children will need about ½ cup of Epsom salts in a full bath of warm water; Adults need 1 – 2 cups. No soap or bubble bath please – in fact it prevents detoxification. Oils and herbs or spices are fine and could also be added to a sachet of oats which is very helpful for skin conditions!
· David Brownstein, MD, Iodine, Why you Need it; Why you can’t live without it.