Our health depends greatly on our ability to eliminate toxins from the body.
If our organs of elimination (bowels, skin, lungs, kidneys) are overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the daily workload, then all kinds of health challenges can occur.
Commonplace complaints such as headaches, bowel irregularities, allergies, weight problems, depression, anxiety, and pain are largely caused by failing detox systems.
Looking older, feeling more tired, and losing the radiant luster of health are also directly related to this overburdened and toxic state.
Doing a cleanse is one of the best ways I know to reduce toxins in our bodies and improve how we feel.
Today, I’ll show you four ways to support the skin, your largest organ of elimination.
The Skinny on Skin
How do you think the skin helps with the detox process? Many people are correct in thinking that sweating is an important mechanism for eliminating toxins. In a healthy person, the skin is usually spared the job of eliminating heavy-duty toxins and mucus, and mainly releases excess water, minerals, and salts.
But here’s the problem.
If your bowels are not doing their job, the body will recruit the other organs of elimination to compensate. If this happens, your skin pays the price with breakouts and problems that cosmetics and creams applied to the surface don’t fix.
During a cleanse, the skin might have to do some extra work at the beginning. Skin rashes or breakouts during the first few days are not uncommon, and are a sign that accelerated detoxification is happening.
4 Ways to Better Skin Detox
Here are four ways to support your skin all year long.
1. Infrared Sauna
Taking regular saunas during a cleanse maximizes elimination via the skin by boosting sweating. The most effective sauna is an infrared sauna. This newer technology heats up the user’s body instead of heating the air with steam like a traditional Finnish sauna. Infrared is radiant heat from long light waves that are not visible to the eye (like sunlight diffused by clouds).
These rays penetrate more deeply below the skin than the heat of a regular sauna, exciting the fat molecules into vibration so that they release toxins. It also boosts circulation, which is desirable at all times, but especially during a cleanse, as the blood needs to carry toxins efficiently to the liver for processing. People used to regular saunas will probably find that they sweat more in the infrared version.
Many wellness centers, massage studios, and colon-hydrotherapist offices have infrared saunas, which can be used inexpensively. But regular saunas will do if you can’t find infrared. In both cases, remember to rehydrate during and after the sauna with lots of pure water. If you have a sauna near you, I’d recommend using it at least one to three times a week, but feel free to use it everyday, especially during a cleanse.
2. Skin Brushing
Skin brushing is a simple, cheap, and effective practice that will help toxin elimination and can easily be done daily.
Your skin is constantly scaling off dead cells, but you’ll want to speed the process during a detox to prevent the dead skin from blocking your pores.
Skin brushing involves using a soft, natural-bristle brush with a long handle on your dry skin, before a bath or shower. These brushes can be found online, in health food stores, and in some drugstores.
Use both long and circular strokes to gently “scrub” the dry skin, from feet to head, including the front and back of the body, the arms, and neck. Always brush inward toward the heart. Do this for several minutes daily if possible. Go gently on thinner-skinned areas like the neck and the inside of the forearm, and use more pressure in thicker-skinned areas such as your back and the soles of the feet. A loofah works too.
In addition to removing dead skin cells, you are stimulating the all-important lymph system, the hormonal system, and glands. If you need to moisturize the skin afterward, try using a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil instead of a chemical-filled drugstore product.
3. Hot-Cold Plunge
Hot-cold plunges are a detoxification secret weapon. In a hot-cold plunge, you alternate between hot and cold water repeatedly to boost circulation and detoxification.
Your skin is your largest organ, containing miles of arterioles and venules that are filled with blood. These vessels relax and dilate with heat and contract with cold. When this relax-and-contract pattern happens, your skin pumps almost as much blood as your heart.
You don’t need to go to a spa or bathhouse to do it. In your shower, turn the water as hot as you can tolerate for one minute and then as cold as you can go for one minute and repeat this four or five times. Doing this daily is an easy way to support the skin’s detoxification function.
4. Detox Bath
A detox bath is another simple way to support cleansing through the skin by increasing sweating. Draw a warm bath and add 1–3 cups of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and 1–2 cups of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Epsom salts help to replenish magnesium levels and flush toxins while baking soda provides antifungal qualities. Add fresh ginger or ginger tea bags to increase sweating. (This can cause the skin to redden for a short period, so add small amounts at a time.)
Relax in the bath for at least 40 minutes. Play some soothing music, and light some candles. If you become too hot, add cold water to the tub. When you’re finished, make sure to drink lots of water. You’re body has been working hard, so relax knowing you’ve been taking good care of yourself.
Alejandro Junger, M.D., is the New York Times bestselling author of “Clean” and founder of the Clean Program, a 21-day program to restore and maintain optimal health. This article was originally published on CleanProgram.com.
*Image of “bath room products” via Shutterstock