Believe it or not, your skin is considered to be the largest organ of your body. We usually think of our skin as a barrier, keeping microbes out and our body parts in. It wraps us in an outer shell that has become such a part of us, we forget it has the capacity to selectively allow substances to penetrate both in and out through the pores.
When we think of detoxing, we usually refer to the process of the liver breaking down toxins into safer, more water soluble substances that then get excreted through the kidneys and the intestines. We also expel toxins through our lungs when we exhale. But rarely do we consider how we can use our skin as a fabulous organ of elimination. Let’s see how we maximize this process and utilize our skin to our advantage!
Don’t you just feel great after a good sweat? That’s in part because you’ve just released a load of toxins through your skin. Saunas heat you up and of course this process induces sweating. The sweat carries with it microbes (which make your sweat stink) and other water soluble toxins, expelling them through our pores.
There are 2 types of saunas we will discuss here:
1. Traditional heat saunas: these are the saunas you usually find in gyms and spas. These enclosed wooden rooms contain a heat source that usually warms the air to around 150º with very low humidity. It is like being the desert in the middle of summer. You will begin to sweat. But if you can relax into the process, it can be quite soothing.
2. Infrared saunas: these are found in specialty clinics, health spas or some people will purchase home units. These saunas work differently than traditional saunas. Where a traditional heat sauna will heat the room air, infrared saunas emit infrared rays that penetrate your body, increasing the blood flow and warming you from the inside out. The overall room temperature of infrared saunas will usually be a little lower than that of traditional saunas, maybe around 120º or so, but don’t let that fool you. Infrared saunas are actually considered to be superior for detoxification purposes.
Common sense for using saunas to detox
- Start slowly – if you’re new to saunas, only stay in for a about 5 minutes the first time. Increase duration a little each session until you can somewhat comfortably stick it out for 30 minutes or so
- Hydrate – drink plenty of water before, during and after your sauna
- Skip altogether if you’re pregnant, have hemophilia or bleeding disorders, have acute fever or are heat insensitive. Check with your doctor if you have cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes, or are on medications.
For the most part, saunas are safe and effective for most people.
Water can be a very healing modality. A good soak can relieve muscle pain, help us relax and warm us from the inside out, much like a sauna.
By adding easily accessible ingredients to your bath, you can enhance the detox capacity.
Here is a great recipe to try:
- 1 cup baking soda
- 2 cups epsom salt
- 1/4 magnetic clay (search for this online)
Baking soda alkalizes and softens the skin, making it more permeable.
Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) also makes the skin more permeable. It draws magnesium into the body, flushing out toxins and metals that have accumulated over the years.
Magnetic clay is gentle, drawing out metals, chemicals and toxins from the system.
Additionally, you can add essential oils to your detox bath.
Some good choices for detox would be:
- Citrus oils such as lemon, orange or tangerine
- Rosemary or cilantro
- Juniper or myrrh
Whatever you choose, doing regular detox baths can make a profound shift in the body and health. Work up to where you can do about a 30 minute soak for best results.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil has been used for thousands of years throughout many cultures to assist healing in the body.
Modern day uses are vast but here, we will look at how to use castor oil packs to detox through the skin.
What you need:
- Organic castor oil
- Organic cotton flannel large enough to cover desired area
- Plastic bag or plastic wrap large enough to cover cotton flannel
- Heating pad
- Towel to cover it all (optional)
- First, decide on an area you’d like to detox. You can do the liver, the entire abdomen, or maybe the thyroid. . .where ever your toxicity has built up.
- Cut a piece of the cotton flannel large enough to comfortably cover the area. You might even consider doubling it up by cutting it twice as long as needed and folding it over in half so there are 2 layers of cloth.
- Saturate your cotton flannel with the castor oil. You don’t need it to be dripping with oil, just wet enough to cover the entire surface.
- Cleanse the area of skin where you’ll be applying the pack.
- Apply the castor oil drenched cotton flannel to the area.
- Cover with plastic.
- Apply a heating pad over the plastic so you don’t soil your heating pad. Allow it to warm the area, drive the castor oil in and promote the toxins to be eliminated through the skin.
- You may cover the entire area with a towel to hold everything in place, if desired.
- Now sit back and relax for the next hour or so.
- Wash and dry the area once you’re finished.
A few tips: You may see a darkening of the oil on the cotton flannel when you remove it. This is an indication of toxins being drawn out. This usually only happens when the castor oil pack was applied to the liver. Don’t be alarmed.
Some people will save and reuse the same cotton flannel over and over with each application. In my opinion, this isn’t the best choice. If possible, discard the flannel and cut a new one each time you apply a pack.
You can enhance the effects of a castor oil pack by adding a drop of essential oil of myrrh if you’re covering the liver or frankincense over the thyroid. Just mix your essential oil right in with the castor oil as you apply it to the cotton flannel cloth.
Best results are seen with daily use over time.
Let us know how you do, which detox method is your favorite, and what results you see as you start to promote detox through your skin.