Some claim that seaweed detox baths provide restorative results. But do they really detoxify the body? Or are the benefits psychosomatic?
Seaweed Detox Bath: Do They Really Work?
Have you ever heard of using seaweed as a detoxifying bath? Forum user Gennywu received a sample as a gift, and here’s what she said: “(I) was surprised by how refreshed I felt after using it. I am wondering if anyone else has tried this—I want to make sure the effect wasn’t just psychosomatic.”
I’ve got you covered, Gennywu! I ordered a seaweed detox bath kit, produced by The Seaweed Bath Co. I’ve chronicled my own experiences here, as well as some less subjective information on seaweed as a detoxing agent. So sit back and relax. Maybe run a hot bath. Because we’re going to get green and clean.
My Seaweed Bath Experience
My kit came with instructions; dried seaweed; and a nifty, nylon baggie for holding the seaweed bits. The bag had a little string to hang it off the bath faucet. Unfortunately, my faucet is the smooth kind that doesn’t have that little shower toggle, and my baggie kept falling into the bath. That was a little inconvenient, but I can’t exactly blame the manufacturer. Laying a wet washcloth across the faucet gave it more friction, helping to reduce the number of falls.
My bath darkened to the color of tea and had a pleasant, not overpowering scent. Well, I suppose the pleasantness would depend on whether you like seaweed or not. I’m choosing to call it pleasant. Others would disagree. If you’re in that camp, you could add some aromatic herbs, like lavender or chamomile, or a few drops of essential oils.
The water’s texture was also changed. It became smooth and slick—lubricating to the skin. It didn’t feel oily or dirty. After a while, the sensation gradually disappeared, once the seaweed had done its work. After toweling off, my skin felt clean and soft. As a manly man, I don’t put too much emphasis on having smooth, soft skin. But just between you and me, it did feel pretty nice.
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According to the kit’s instructions, I could use this same seaweed for up to 4 baths over the course of a week, as long as I kept it dry between uses. Based on my experience, I’d say that this was a bit of an exaggeration. I’d expect 4 uses to equal 1 strong seaweed bath, 2 fairly useful baths, and 1 ghost of a seaweed bath.
Did I feel like a new man afterward? Not really. I did feel good, but not unusually so. Maybe I was already nourished and cleaned up inside—as pure as the driven snow. Or maybe I’m just not as observant as other people. I’d like to imagine it was the first option, but I’m not going to bet any money on it.
All in all, it was a nice experience, and I’d do it again. Plus, I’m keeping the nylon bag for future herbal baths.
Is Something Really Happening, or Is It All in Your Head?
Whether you feel something or not will depend on your starting toxicity, your sensitivity to what’s happening in your body, and several other factors. Yes, you may also experience a placebo effect, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s just a fun bonus. Regardless of whether or not you feel anything, things are indeed happening.
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Your skin is sometimes called your “second liver” or your “third kidney.” It functions as an excretory organ by pushing waste out of your sweat glands. That’s the route a detox bath takes. It encourages detoxification through the skin, via the drawing action of the herbs and the sweat you produce in the hot water.
Maximizing Your Seaweed Detox
For best results, use comfortably hot water. More heat equals more sweat. And hotter water is better at extracting minerals from the seaweed. But nobody wants you burning yourself or having a heart issue. This is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. So make the water as hot as you can comfortably stand.
Diaphoretic herbs—like yarrow, elder, chamomile, or peppermint—can also help encourage sweating. Just be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after the bath to replace what you’re sweating out.
Too Much of a Good Thing
When you detox, your body is moving toxins around. These toxins were likely causing problems before, but they were also more-or-less locked away in one general area. By detoxing, you pull those toxins out and parade them through your blood stream to a convenient excretory organ. While they’re floating around the body, bumping into everything and generally being rude, they can produce a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
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During a detox, some people experience headaches, chills, nausea, fatigue, etc. An intense experience may make you feel like something is really happening (and it is). But a gradual, gentle detox will work just as well and prevent (or at least minimize) unpleasant symptoms. So why not take the lighter route?
A seaweed bath is a nice, gentle way to detoxify. It focuses mainly on the skin, which can help your body maintain its normal functions in the future. By clearing your skin’s detoxification channels, you will be able to more efficiently clear toxins in the future, and you may be taking some of the load off of your kidneys and liver.
Other Ways to Minimize Detox Symptoms
To help minimize detox symptoms, I also suggest you exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and live in a healthy environment. Of course, if we were able to always do this, we probably wouldn’t need to detox in the first place. So let’s be a little more practical.
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If you’re going to take something out of your body (toxins and sweat), you need to put something back in (good nutrition and clean water). And if you’re asking your body to spend its energy on cleaning you up, it’s best not to spend that energy elsewhere. Light exercise is fine, and may even help you, but running a marathon isn’t going to leave you with much to work with.
Seaweed Gives Back
Seaweed isn’t just pulling things out of your body. It’s also giving you magnesium, and other minerals, which you can absorb through your skin. Magnesium has a variety of health benefits, including relieving stress and improving our moods.1) “Cornerstone Mineral for Health.” Mercola.com. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/04/01/health-benefits-of-magnesium.aspx. And guess what else we use magnesium for – detoxification.2) Price, Annie. “The Magnesium-Rich, Detoxifying Pain Reliever.” Dr. Axe, November 29, 2018. https://draxe.com/nutrition/epsom-salt/. Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in magnesium. 3) “Cornerstone Mineral for Health.” Mercola.com. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/04/01/health-benefits-of-magnesium.aspx. So a seaweed detox bath is doubly good at helping you remove toxins. It pulls out toxins and gives us the magnesium we need to continue detoxing ourselves.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever used a seaweed bath? Are you thinking about trying it? What’s your favorite herb, oil, or other “magic potion” to use in the tub? Once you’re finished toweling off, let us know in the comments.
This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on February 23, 2020. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments, however we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!
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Scott Sexton is a TGN Trailblazer, a highly experimental gardener, an unrelenting weed-eater, and a largely non-profit herbalist (much to his wife’s chagrin). When Scott is not teaching foraging classes, testing out theories in the garden, or grazing in the forest, he can be found at his Facebook page, “A Forager’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.”
|↑1||“Cornerstone Mineral for Health.” Mercola.com. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/04/01/health-benefits-of-magnesium.aspx.|
|↑2||Price, Annie. “The Magnesium-Rich, Detoxifying Pain Reliever.” Dr. Axe, November 29, 2018. https://draxe.com/nutrition/epsom-salt/.|
|↑3||“Cornerstone Mineral for Health.” Mercola.com. Accessed February 20, 2020. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/04/01/health-benefits-of-magnesium.aspx.|
I live in Ireland and live right at the sea. I gather seaweed of all types to add to our food and to use in baths and foot soaks. The seaweed here has every vitamin and mineral needed. It’s a great detox, but I did find out at the beginning that doing too many baths in a week can leave you feeling a bit miserable due to too much detoxing. We usually pour boiling water on the seaweed to activate the gel like substance which softens the skin. Then, we add cooler water to temper it to what we can tolerate. We usually gather seaweed for our friends to do foot soaks when they come for a visit.