Holistic Approach: Skin Detox Secrets
09/20/2009 | 12:00 AM
How to Eliminate Toxins for a Naturally Beautiful Complexion
It’s estimated that the skin handles as much as 10 percent of the body's natural filtration and that our sweat glands can actually detoxify our body of as much waste as our kidneys.
The skin works with our internal organs to cleanse itself of potentially harmful chemicals. But each organ—the kidneys, lungs and colon—must be in good working order to keep the system clean and healthy. When a given organ fails to function properly, it increases the workload of the other organs, upsetting a delicate balance and causing health problems.
It’s no coincidence that people suffering from constipation usually have acne, while those with diarrhea often have dry skin. The skin of people whose systems PH balance is too high (acidic) tend to appear ashen.
The skin, if well cared for, can take on a larger share of the body’s detoxification process. This makes the process of regular skin cleansing and detoxification a critical part of one's skin care routine.
Basic Skin Detox Tips
Many simple lifestyle changes can assist in the process of skin detox. For starters, it is important to eat a balanced diet of whole foods and drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Experts also recommend saunas and steam baths for flushing harmful toxins from the skin. (Make sure to increase your intake of clear, uncaffeinated fluids if you use these healthful spa treatments.)
Opting for natural, herbal and organic skincare products is another simple way to begin to detoxify the skin. Synthetic, chemical-based products may be more economical, but they may ultimately harm the skin—and the entire body. The chemicals contained in many soaps, shampoos and cosmetics can often cause allergic reactions, including hives and rashes. Furthermore, the skin absorbs chemical toxins and transmits them to the internal organs.
It’s also important to exfoliate the skin regularly. Exfoliating is, essentially, the sloughing off of dead skin cells. This process clears blocked pores and helps to keep the skin young and healthy-looking. Bath towels, loofahs and long-handled natural bristle brushes are great exfoliating tools. Vigorous towelling off after a bath or shower also works, but towels should be changed often as they may retain a residue of skin toxins.
High-quality fats and oils from natural sources are terrific for the skin. Butter and olive oil have been used as effective skin treatments for millennia.
Clothes also have an impact on the skin’s ability to flush toxins. Natural fibers allow the skin to breathe. Synthetic fabrics, which are “suffocating,” should be avoided.
Detox Showers and Baths
Detox showers and baths are simple, inexpensive forms of hydrotherapy that can be done at home. They are an effective way to strengthen the body's immune system and keep illness at bay by quickly flushing toxins from the body.
Individuals should, however, be aware hydrotherapy’s potential side-effects. These include:
· Headaches: These may occur because of dehydration or fluctuating water temperatures. They may be relieved by applying cold compresses to the head or back of neck. Drinking plenty of water also helps.
· Chills: Cold treatments may cause chills. It is important to dry off and warm up quickly after cold showers and baths.
· Dizziness: Sudden changes in blood pressure (a result of hot or cold showers or baths) may cause dizziness. If you feel dizzy, end your shower or bath and lay down until the feeling passes.
· Lack of sleep: Occasionally people have trouble sleeping after detox showers or baths. Such people should avoid them late at night.
· Heart palpations: Some people may experience an accelerated heart rhythm or palpitations as a result of hot showers or baths. If so, they should be discontinued.
· Skin sensitivity: Some report their skin feels “ticklish” after detox hydrotherapy while others report that the prolonged exposure to water results in skin irritation.
· Hyperventilation:Anxiety causes some to hyperventilate prior to or during treatments.
· Nausea: Some people experience feelings of nausea due to changes in blood pressure or as a reaction to the detoxification process.
Contrast showers—showers that alternate between periods of hot and cold—are terrific for the skin. They not only improve blood flow, they have also been shown to help the body rid itself of metabolic waste, inflammatory by-products and other toxins. The number of white blood cells in the body is increased by contrast showers, improving the body's immune system.
The best contrast shower method is to alternate between hot water (first) and cold water (second). The hot periods should be three times longer than the cold periods e.g. three minutes of hot, one minute of cold. It’s most effective to continue this alternation for a period of 10-15 minutes. Many choose to end their showers with cold water.
The contrast of hot and cold water markedly improves circulation. Blood vessels dilate from the heat and constrict from the cold. Contrast showers are an effective treatment for varicose veins, skin inflammation and stagnant swelling. They also help alleviate the pain and discomfort of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and tendonitis.
Sitz baths are essentially warm, highly localized baths demonstrated to have a variety of healing powers. They are taken in a sitting position with only enough water to cover the pelvis. Some sitz baths may contain medication and are used to relieve pain, itching and muscle spasms.
People who have undergone haemorrhoid surgeries or episiotomy are often prescribed sitz baths. These baths are an effective treatment for pain and are also reported to be beneficial for the lower abdomen, urinary tract and rectum.
The best sitz bath method is as follows: Fill the bathtub with water up to the navel. Bend the knees and place feet out of the water (on the edge of the tub). While relaxing in the bath, gently splash water over the abdomen. Note: many people keep their torsos covered with warm clothing when taking a sitz bath.
Hot sitz bath
When taking hot sitz baths, a water temperature between 105 and 115 degrees F should be maintained. A hot sitz bath should last from 2-10 minutes. Hot sitz baths improve circulation and have an analgesic and stimulating effect on the pelvic region. They are a good treatment for dysmenorrhoea, haemorrhoids and menstrual cramps.
Cold sitz bath
Cold sitz baths should last from 2-10 minutes and water temperature may be anywhere between 55 and 75 degrees F. Cold sitz baths are a great way of toning uterus muscles and reducing rectal bleeding. They also tone the digestive system. Some people fill the tub with ice water and sit in it for 30-60 seconds.
Contrast sitz bath
A contrast sitz bath alternates back-to-back soaks in hot and cold water that last three minutes each.
Contrast sitz baths are recommended for those who suffer poor pelvic circulation. They are also effective for toning the pelvic muscles. Contrast sitz baths are often prescribed for people suffering from chronic pelvic inflammatory diseases, prostatitis, atonic constipation (inactive colon) and fistulas following rectal surgery.
Contrast sitz baths should not be ended abruptly. Instead, the bather should sit in warm water for 2-3 minutes before getting out.
Experts strongly recommend that patients taking contrast sitz baths shouldn’t do so alone, as the differential in water temperature may cause dizziness.
Full baths aren’t just about hygiene—they also serve a therapeutic purpose. Full baths have a soothing effect on the body as they calm the muscles and increase circulation. In all full baths, the body is completely immersed in water.
Warm full baths
Warm full baths in water from 90-95 degrees F are effective for relaxing nerves and soothing muscles. They’re also a great way of reducing problems associated with the bladder and urinary tract. They are even effective in treating common cold.
Hot full baths
Hot full baths should be taken in water from 100-113 degrees F. The objective of a hot full bath is to markedly increase blood circulation by using high heat. Hot full baths should immediately be followed by wrapping the body in a towel or blanket. This causes the body to sweat profusely and suddenly and is an extremely effective way of detoxing the skin.
Cold full baths
Cold baths shock the system and slow the heart rate. Water temperature for cold baths should be 55-65 degrees F.
Unlike full baths, when taking half-baths only the lower part of the body is immersed. They should be taken in a sitting position with the water level no higher than the navel. Only the legs, feet and abdomen should be underwater.
Therapeutic warm half-baths should last around 10 minutes with a water temperature of approximately 95 degrees F. Warm half-baths are indicated for those suffering from low blood pressure and are especially healthful for menopausal women. Some people end warm half-baths with a cold shower, followed by vigorously brushing the entire body with a fine bristle brush.
Cold half baths should be brief—from 5-15 seconds in duration. They are recommended as a treatment for headaches, insomnia, nervous conditions, hyperactive thyroid, flatulence and constipation.
Saline baths are one of the most common therapeutic baths. They are typically recommended for those suffering from scaly, chapped or flaky skin. Saline baths are also reputed to be an effective treatment for cellulite and joint pain. Some recommend saline baths for managing symptoms of bronchial asthma.
Saline baths are easy to prepare: add 6 pounds of table or rock salt (sodium chloride) to 20-30 gallons of water. Water temperature should be 95-97 degrees F. Alternately, use 3-5 pounds of Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate). To get full benefit, saline baths should last for 10-20 minutes.
Saline baths are a great way of relaxing muscles and soothing nerves. They are also effective for relieving spinal stress, as the salts natural buoyancy reduces pressure on the body. After a saline bath, dry off and apply almond or olive oil to the skin.
Soda baths are often recommended for those suffering from measles and chicken pox. Those with eczema, hives, insect bites and miscellaneous skin irritations also benefit. Additionally, soda baths are an effective sun burn treatment. They open the pores and have a mild antiseptic quality that relieves itching and reduces skin inflammation.
Prepare a soda bath by adding 1 pound of baking soda to a full tub of warm water (95-97 degrees F). Recommended soaking time is 10-20 minutes.
Like soda baths, starch baths are a great way to soothe irritated skin. Starch baths are recommended for people suffering from rash caused by poison ivy, poison oak eczema and prickly heat.
Starch bath are simple to prepare. The best way is to add a pound of dry corn starch to a tub full of warm water (95-97 degrees F). To receive full benefit, soak for 10-20 minutes. Some people substitute potato starch, adding it to a half-full tub 10-14 hours prior to bathing. At bath time, the water temperature should be warmed up by the addition of hot water.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are extremely beneficial for a variety of reasons. They relieve stress, reduce muscular fatigue, soothe aching joints and can even relieve pain caused by arthritis or sciatica. Some even consider Epsom salt baths as an effective treatment for the common cold, flu and other minor infections.
To prepare an Epsom salt bath, simply add 1 pound of Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) to a full tub of hot water. Soak fully immersed for 10-20 minutes. Avoid soap, as it cuts the Epsom salt and reduces its beneficial effects. A complete body rub is an excellent way to follow an Epsom salt bath. A short post-bath nap is also recommended.
Epsom salt baths increase perspiration, causing some to feel dehydrated. They should be avoided by people suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems. Experts also advise that those suffering from arthritis should move about after an Epsom salt bath. Failure to do so can cause joint “congestion” and increase arthritic pain. Those suffering from joint conditions and the elderly should begin by taking Epsom salt baths of short duration and infrequently, to allow their bodies to get used to the effects.
While sulphur baths are most commonly used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, they are proven to be extremely effective for full-body relaxation. Some claim that sulphur baths “reboot” the system and relieve asthma and bronchitis symptoms. Sulphur baths are also prescribed as a treatment for chronic psoriasis, pityriasis rosea, and prurigo.
Sulphur baths are often enjoyed at spas that offer patrons the opportunity to soak themselves in natural sulphur springs. However, they can also easily be prepared in the comfort of one's home by adding about 2 ounces of potassium sulphate to a tub of warm water (95-102 degrees F).
For full benefits, the ideal soak time is 10-20 minutes.
Oatmeal isn’t just for eating—it makes a great therapeutic bath. Oatmeal baths are perfect for soothing irritated skin, relieving sun burn, wind burn and chapping. They’re even used to relieve the itching caused by chicken pox, poison ivy, mosquito bites and diaper rash. Those suffering from dry skin, eczema, anal itching (due to pinworms) and shingles may also experience relief from oatmeal baths.
Oatmeal baths can be prepared at home using a package of commercial oatmeal—either slow-cooking or instant—but be sure to use unflavoured varieties. For adults, use 2 cups of oatmeal per full tub of water. For babies or young children, 1/3 cup of oatmeal is recommended. Water temperature should be 95-97 degrees F. The oats should be added under running water, so that they easily dissolve. Soak for 15-30 minutes, exit the bath, and pat dry with a soft towel (rubbing should be avoided).
Note: oatmeal can make the tub slippery. To avoid injury, individuals should be careful when getting in and out of an oatmeal bath.
Apple Cider Vinegar Baths
Apple cider vinegar baths are an extremely effective way of beautifying the skin. But they aren’t just popular for their cosmetic benefits. They are therapeutic and detoxifying, too: apple cider vinegar baths restore the body's acid-alkaline balance and are great for those suffering from arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis and gout. The vinegar has antiseptic qualities that prevent the proliferation of bacteria, viruses, and infection-causing yeast.
Prepare an apple cider vinegar bath by adding 1-4 cups of apple cider vinegar to a tub of warm water. (Organic, raw, unfiltered and un-pasteurized apple cinder vinegars are recommended.) For maximum benefit, soak for 40-45 minutes.