A salt water flush is a popular cleansing routine that involves drinking a salt water solution to rapidly flush the colon. This technique has become more common in recent years among people looking to detoxify their bodies or relieve occasional constipation.
What is a Salt Water Flush?
A salt water flush involves drinking a solution of warm water mixed with non-iodized salt. The typical recipe is:
- 2 liters of warm water (distilled, filtered, or bottled)
- 2-3 tablespoons of non-iodized sea salt (such as Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt)
The salt water solution works as a laxative by drawing water into the colon to induce bowel movements. The flush prompts the intestines to contract, allowing the colon’s contents to be expelled. This leads to rapid, watery bowel movements within 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Reasons People Use a Salt Water Flush
There are several reasons people may choose to do a salt water flush:
- Constipation relief – The flush can stimulate bowel movements to relieve occasional constipation. It should not be used for chronic constipation.
- Detoxification – Some use it to detoxify the colon and digestive tract by removing waste material.
- Cleansing routine – It may be part of some cleansing diets or regimens such as before a colonoscopy.
- Weight loss – The rapid loss of stool and water weight may temporarily lighten the number on the scale.
How Long Does it Take to Work?
The salt water flush works very rapidly. You can expect to start having frequent, loose bowel movements anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours after drinking the solution.
The timing depends on several factors:
- How quickly you drink the solution – Drinking it steadily over 10-15 minutes allows it to move into the colon faster than sipping slowly.
- Your individual physiology – Movement through the digestive tract is variable between different people.
- Amount of food in your system – Having an empty stomach allows the solution to work more quickly.
- Transit time of your colon – Some people simply have faster transit times than others naturally.
On average, expect the flush to produce bowel movements about 30-60 minutes after drinking the salt water mixture completely. The effects typically peak around 1-2 hours.
What Does the Flush Feel Like?
Here is what you can expect during and after performing a salt water flush:
- First bowel movement – The first trip to the toilet will involve loose, watery stools. You may need to go urgently as the rectum fills with fluid.
- Abdominal cramps – Cramping and bloating are common as the colon contracts to move stool. The cramps may be mild to moderate.
- Multiple bowel movements – Expect to have frequent bowel movements and diarrhea for 1-2 hours. Going 5-15 times is common.
- Lightheadedness – Some people feel lightheaded or dizzy after losing fluids, so hydrating after is important.
- Hunger – You may feel intense hunger after clearing your colon since digestion is essentially starting over.
- Tiredness – The flush causes fatigue in some people, especially if you become dehydrated.
Stay near a toilet for at least an hour after drinking the salt flush. Abdominal discomfort and bowel urgency dissipate after the initial cleansing effects.
How Long Do the Effects Last?
The effects of the salt water flush are rapid but temporary. The entire flush process typically lasts:
- 30-60 minutes for the first bowel movement
- 1-2 hours of active cleansing diarrhea and cramps
- 2-24 hours of potential loose stools or light diarrhea afterwards
Bowel movements typically go back to normal 24 hours after the flush at the latest. Since the colon was emptied, it takes time to reestablish regular bowel movements.
You may find loose stools or minor diarrhea continue in the day or two after the flush. This is the colon’s natural process of replenishing its mucus lining after being flushed.
Are There Long-Term Effects?
There are no major long-term effects from doing an occasional salt water flush. However, frequent flushes could cause issues like:
- Electrolyte imbalances from repeatedly losing sodium, potassium, and fluids
- Disruption of bowel regularity
- Dependence on laxatives for bowel movements
It’s best to only use this technique once in awhile for a quick cleanse. Chronic diarrhea from frequent flushing can cause malabsorption of nutrients in the long run.
Tips for an Effective, Safe Salt Water Flush
Here are some tips to make your salt water flush go smoothly:
- Only flush 1-2 times per month maximum.
- Avoid if you have kidney issues, heart failure, or electrolyte imbalances.
- Do not use table salt, which has additives. Use unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.
- Drink through a straw placed in the back of your mouth to avoid the salty taste.
- Follow with coconut water or hydrating fluids to restore electrolyte balance.
- Eat light, bland foods after. Broth, rice, apple sauce, toast.
- Rest afterwards since it can be tiring. Especially don’t drive right after.
- Never do a flush when constipated or if you have abdominal pain.
The Bottom Line
A salt water flush is a rapid way to induce bowel movements through osmotic purging of the colon. It works quickly, within 30 minutes to 2 hours. However, it should only be done occasionally. Frequent flushing can disrupt normal bowel function over time. Use salt water flushes sparingly to avoid long-term issues.
In summary, a salt water flush provides a deep cleansing of the colon that works within an hour. But it’s best saved for an occasional intestinal reset instead of a routine habit.