A salt flush, also known as a salt water flush, is a method of cleansing the colon by drinking a salt water solution. Some people use a salt flush as part of a detox or cleanse regimen. Proponents claim that a salt flush can help remove waste and toxins from the colon, relieve constipation, and promote weight loss. However, there are some potential risks with doing a salt flush, and medical supervision is recommended.
What is a Salt Flush?
A salt flush involves drinking a large amount of salt water on an empty stomach to induce bowel movements and clean out the colon. The salt water solution is typically made by mixing 2 teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt with 1 liter of lukewarm water. Within 30 minutes to 2 hours of drinking the solution, the salt water will cause the colon to contract, leading to strong urges to have a bowel movement.
The goal is to flush out the entire colon by inducing repeated bowel movements over the next 1-2 hours. The end result should be the elimination of built up waste and toxins from the colon.
Purported Benefits of a Salt Flush
Here are some of the claimed benefits of doing a salt flush:
- Cleanses the colon of waste and toxins
- Relieves constipation
- Improves digestion and bowel regularity
- Increases energy levels
- Improves skin clarity and appearance
- Promotes weight loss
- Reduces bloating
By flushing out the colon and eliminating built-up waste, proponents believe a salt flush provides a quick reset for the digestive system. Some naturopathic practitioners recommend doing a salt flush occasionally as part of a natural detox regimen.
Potential Risks and Side Effects
While a salt flush may seem like a quick fix, there are some potential risks and side effects to be aware of:
- Dehydration – The large amounts of fluid loss can lead to dehydration, especially if you do not drink enough fluids after.
- Electrolyte imbalances – Rapid loss of sodium can cause low sodium levels in the body.
- Nausea, vomiting, cramps – Drinking the salt water rapidly can cause nausea and stomach cramps.
- Dizziness, weakness – Flushing your system can make you feel weak or lightheaded.
- Bowel irritation – Repeated bowel movements and increased motility can irritate the colon.
Salt flushes are also not recommended for people with kidney disease, heart disease, hypertension, or other medical conditions. Consult with your healthcare provider before attempting a salt flush.
How Much Salt for a Salt Flush?
The standard recipe for a salt flush calls for:
- 2 teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt
- 1 liter of lukewarm water
This produces a salt water solution that is approximately 0.9% saline. The 2 teaspoons of salt provide about 10 grams of sodium chloride.
Some people adjust the amount of salt based on body weight. General guidelines are:
|Body Weight||Amount of Salt|
|Less than 150 lbs (68 kg)||1.5 teaspoons|
|150-200 lbs (68-90 kg)||2 teaspoons|
|Over 200 lbs (90 kg)||2.5 teaspoons|
Using more than 2.5 teaspoons of salt may increase the risks of electrolyte disturbances. It’s best to start with a lower amount if doing a salt flush for the first time.
If you choose to do a salt flush, here are some step-by-step instructions:
- Prepare the salt water solution up to 12 hours in advance and refrigerate until needed.
- Avoid eating any solid foods in the 12 hours prior to the flush.
- In the morning, drink the salt water solution quickly on an empty stomach. Try to consume it within 5 minutes.
- Remain close to a bathroom over the next 2 hours. Be prepared for urgent bowel movements.
- You may continue passing stools for up to 2 hours. Passing yellow or orange liquid is a sign you have cleansed the colon.
- Drink plenty of water (at least 2 liters) following the flush to rehydrate.
- Avoid solid foods for at least 2 hours after finishing. Stick to clear liquids.
- Refrain from vigorous activity for the rest of the day.
Ideally, the salt flush should be done first thing in the morning to take advantage of the body’s natural circadian rhythms. You may want to stay home for the duration, as the urges to have bowel movements can come on very quickly.
If you do a salt flush, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Always consult your doctor first, especially if you have any medical conditions.
- Never do a salt flush if you have kidney disease, heart failure, or hypertension.
- Do not do a salt flush more than 1-2 times per month.
- Avoid physical activity after the flush. Rest and rehydrate.
- Never use a salt flush to achieve quick weight loss.
- Discontinue use if you experience signs of dehydration, low sodium levels, or electrolyte imbalances.
A salt flush is not recommended for everyone. Work closely with your healthcare provider to determine if it might be appropriate in your situation.
Alternatives to a Salt Flush
Other options to naturally cleanse the colon include:
- Drink more water – Staying hydrated softens the stool and improves bowel motility.
- Eat more fiber – Fiber adds bulk to the stool and promotes regularity.
- Probiotics – Can improve gut health and digestion.
- Magnesium supplements – Draws water into the colon to soften stool.
- Exercise – Physical activity reduces transit time through the colon.
- Herbal laxatives – Senna, cascara, or psyllium can stimulate bowel movements.
Focus on getting more fiber through fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. Adding probiotic foods like yogurt can also improve digestion. Maintaining bowel regularity through diet, exercise, and natural supplements is preferable to doing repeated salt flushes.
The Bottom Line
When done occasionally, a salt flush may provide a quick cleanse for some people. However, there are healthier and more sustainable ways to improve digestion and cleanse the colon. Drinking a salt flush can also lead to potentially dangerous side effects like dehydration and electrolyte disturbances. It should not be performed regularly or without medical supervision.
Rather than relying on a salt flush for a quick fix, focus instead on eating more fiber, staying hydrated, exercising, reducing stress, and taking probiotics. Your doctor can also recommend natural laxatives if you are dealing with chronic constipation. Be wary of detox or cleansing programs that rely heavily on salt flushes and other potentially risky cleanses.