A Simple + Comprehensive Guide

Benefits Of A Salt Water Cleanse

There is a lot of information out there on the seemingly powerful detoxifying effects of salt water flushes on your gut health, but some of that is overstated.

Sea salt can help detoxify the skin, so indulging in a sea salt bath or salt cave therapy can be a great way to relax and boost your skin health. There just isn’t enough evidence out there to support salt water flushes as a cure-all for your digestive issues.

There also isn’t enough evidence to show that they reduce parasitic activity along the digestive tract. Herbal anti-parasitics are my go-to when dealing with intestinal parasites, but the right course of action can depend on the damage they’ve done.

Here’s what the scientific evidence does say on the possible health benefits of sea salt flushes:

  • It relieves constipation. This is the most obvious benefit of a salt water flush and an at-home therapy I recommend to patients dealing with abdominal discomfort. Salt water helps loosen your stools and stimulates bowel movements. (1)
  • It may improve digestion. Reducing waste buildup could help your bowels operate more efficiently and effectively, resulting in a net positive effect on overall digestion.
  • It replaces some lost electrolytes. Sea salt flushes can give your body a sodium boost, but it’s safest to beat an electrolyte imbalance in a way that doesn’t flush out your system. Potassium-rich bananas, leafy greens, and electrolyte supplements are all great sources of electrolytes to load up on after a flush.
  • It might provide some migraine relief. One study found that an increase in sodium led to reduced migraine symptoms, particularly in women. (2) It’s important to note that any cleanse can trigger headaches for some, though.
  • It might balance your gut microbiome. A study analyzing the effects of deep-sea water found that those who drank it saw a boost in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), an essential player in gut microbiota. (3)

To Flush Or Not To Flush?

Before I get into who may benefit from a salt water flush, it’s important to note that these aren’t meant as a regular remedy. If you’re dealing with chronic constipation, there may be an underlying medical condition at play that won’t be taken care of by drinking salt water.

Your primary care doctor or functional medicine provider can help determine if a salt water flush would benefit you, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

To Flush

If you’re dealing with abdominal pain and bloating due to a bout of constipation, you may benefit from a salt water flush. It’s a natural and relatively gentle method of stimulating your bowels to allow stools to pass.

For those new to salt water flushes, start with a chat with your doctor. They’ll give you a better idea of whether you’re a good candidate and more of what to expect with your first flush. The same goes for how often you can do a salt water flush.

Not To Flush

Let’s talk about salt water cleanse safety and side effects. Salt water flushes are generally safe as an infrequent at-home constipation remedy, but if you’re pregnant or have any underlying medical conditions, seek medical advice before you flush.

If you have any of the health problems below, it’s best to avoid salt water flushes altogether:

You should also avoid using a salt water flush as a weight loss cure. Inducing bowel movements is a popular method touted in diets like the Master Cleanse, which promises rapid detoxification and reduced fluid retention. But that’s not a long-term solution to weight management.

If you like how you feel after a cleanse or other detox methods like juice fasts, there are alternatives if you’re not a good candidate for sea salt flushes. Natural detoxing can look like eating more detoxifying foods or incorporating gut-healthy supplements into your diet.

I like combining supplements that address the gut-brain connection. My Gut Feelings set is a personally curated blend of ingredients clinically proven to soothe your gut and support healthy brain chemistry balance.

Exactly How To Do It

The salt water flush instructions below are what I follow whenever I need to get things moving:

  1. Add 2 teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt in 4 cups of warm water.
  2. Stir the mixture until dissolved.
  3. Add fresh lemon juice if desired to enhance the flavor.
  4. Drink the mixture quickly. You shouldn’t be sipping on this one!

How fast a salt water flush works varies from person to person, but you should typically experience a bowel movement within 30 minutes. Make sure you’re near a bathroom before starting your cleanse!

Improving Effectiveness

The key to an effective salt water flush is to do it on an empty stomach. Whether that is first thing in the morning or a few hours after dinner before bed, it’s important not to do it with food.

Hydrate well before and after your cleanse, and limit your alcohol consumption in the days leading up to your flush. Additionally, you’ll want to stick to the recommended ratio of water to salt. Too much salt can have the opposite effect on your digestive system and increase bloating.

If things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, try some gentle abdominal massage or light exercise around the house. You just don’t want to get too far from home once the solution starts doing its colon cleansing.

Helping Your System Recover

In the immediate hours after a sea salt flush, be gentle with your body. Listen to your body and try to eat bland but fiber-rich foods. It’s then time to start getting to the bottom of what’s caused your gut symptoms in the first place so you can achieve long-term gut health.

Salt water flushes aren’t meant for daily or long-term use, so it’s important to support your body’s digestion and detoxification systems on a regular basis. That includes your digestive tract, liver, gallbladder, and kidneys.

For healthier bowel movements long-term, follow these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water. (Warm water alone can have a positive impact on your bowels.) (5)
  • Eat probiotic-rich foods like kefir or sauerkraut.
  • Take a probiotic supplement if diet changes aren’t enough.
  • Boost your fiber intake. (6)
  • Incorporate daily movement into your routine.

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