Transdermal medicine in its most intense form competes with intravenous methods of application if one’s life expectancy is measured in hours, days, or weeks rather than when in the emergency room we have only seconds to save someone’s life. There is no disputing the need for the needle when medicines—the same ones we are going to be adding to our bath water—are needed instantly in the blood to save a life. But there is a full range of medical situations where medical baths can help save the day.
We can imagine therapeutic bathing, or what is known as balneology, ranging along a continuum from relaxing beauty treatments to therapeutic levels of intensity to life-threatening emergency treatments where a maximum amount of safe medicinals is transported across the skin for substantial systemic effect.
The major variables that can be controlled in transdermal medical baths are water temperature, time spent in the bath (which is related to temperature) and the concentrations of the mineral salts of sodium bicarbonate, magnesium chloride (magnesium flakes), magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), sodium thiosulfate and even Dead Sea salt.
Not everyone in the world has access to spas and many people in the third world don’t even have bathtubs, but just about everyone has a small bathtub for their babies and young children, which can be used for foot baths that will give some of the effects of full-body baths. Our relaxing baths can be brought up to therapeutic levels where they can be used in emergency situations such as nuclear fallout, before and after surgery, chemotherapy and, most importantly, before and after dangerous medical tests or therapies that use radiation. The medicines we are going to be using in our baths are: sodium bicarbonate, magnesium salts, and sodium thiosulfate.
Medicinal baths are truly multidimensional healing and rejuvenating experiences. We can treat our heart, mind, body and soul, mixing in some joy and play in the water with ritualistic healing. It takes work to be healthy and very concentrated work to heal ourselves when we have already fallen to chronic illness. So we need time to exercise and we need time to detoxify just to maintain health. We need to practice defensive medicine in the 21st century, which is an age of intense toxicity.
Taking a hot bath is one of the best ways to usher in some recreation and respite in our daily life. In addition to facilitating relaxation and rest, taking hot baths regularly can be used to strengthen our bodies, increasing our stamina and ability to withstand high levels of stress. While soaking in a hot bath is definitely a pleasurable experience and it facilitates in alleviating anxiety, when you add medicines, minerals, salts, herbs and oils to hot water, you head into the stratosphere of medical and health practice. Spas of course work with this kind of medicine and so do the best sports medicine doctors.
My husband observed my crankiness for what it was—temporary.
Soon after we got in the tub—you know how the water and
jets just grab you and change your mood?—I was fine again.
Soaking in a hot bath for a minimum of 20 minutes following a hectic day is considered to be among the simplest methods to chill out and partake of a safe and effective medical treatment. Just the warmness of the water alleviates anxiety and helps to invigorate the body, calms the mind and enables you to experience a great feeling.
There is nothing stronger, in a medical healing sense, than soaking in a tubful of bicarbonate and magnesium. Throw in some sulfur and a little of your favorite essential oil and get ready to feel better.
There is nothing more gratifying than a magnesium bicarbonate bath at the end of a busy day filled with the common tensions of our times. I take these baths at least three times a week or more often when stress levels are high. I use Ancient Minerals bath flakes, about 3 cups in a tubful of very warm water, and add about 2 cups of sodium bicarbonate. Add in some essential oil and you have one of the most stress-relieving and effective medicinal baths you could possibly find. I am convinced this is as good as a day at one of the mineral springs. These baths provide detoxification, muscle relaxation, stress relief, easing of skin problems, and the absorption of both bicarbonate and minerals.
After strenuous physical activity there is nothing I have found that will ease sore muscles like one of these baths. Within minutes you can feel the effect and the soreness easing. My husband who has restless leg syndrome uses these baths to reduce the symptoms of this and I can tell which night he’s taken a magnesium bath and which night he hasn’t. On nights he bathes in magnesium, I am not awakened in the night by his incessant movement next to me in bed.
When stress or daily upsets get me down, the first thing I turn to is this combination bath and I can feel the tension literally drain out of my body. Since peripheral neuropathy has recently shown its face in my life due to diabetes, a bath in magnesium and bicarbonate provides a welcome relief for the tingling and burning in my feet and hands. I could not live without these baths, which also keep my magnesium levels up where they belong. People with low blood pressure should be careful as the combination of the magnesium and warm water will lower it. Be prepared to rest or retire for the night as it makes you feel so relaxed that sleep comes easily and naturally afterwards.
– Claudia French, R.N. (retired)
Dissolve a half to a full cup of bicarbonate of soda in a tub of warm water for soft, smooth-feeling skin and a relaxing bath. For a medical bath, start with a half-pound of bicarbonate and work up from there to 1-2 pounds; some use even more than two pounds. The standard advice is: Use 2-4 cups of sodium bicarbonate in a hot bath with equal amounts of sea salt. This assists in detoxification from exposure to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals including radiation contamination. In Spain, water is classified as bicarbonate if the water contains more than 250 ppm of free carbon gas. It is easy to take this up dramatically higher for a dramatically increased medical effect.
In the early days of my experience with magnesium I made very low dosage recommendations for magnesium baths. Now I am recommending much higher doses for baths ranging anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds to even 6 pounds of magnesium flakes or a combination of flakes with Dead Sea salt and perhaps even some Epsom salt. I am not talking about a nice hot magnesium bath for simple relaxation but a professional bath intended for a strong therapeutic effect. Under my old recommendations the percent of magnesium in the bath came only to 45-180 mg/l magnesium. When you discover that open seawater has a content of 1,300 mg/l magnesium, we see that our early recommendations were way too low. The driving force behind transdermal intake is the concentration gradient.
When we address several basic foundational aspects of physiology, when we cover all the bases, then we can hope for that long-sought-after cure. Magnesium is essential to good health and responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. And magnesium alone addresses over 100 health issues. Numerous research studies that have tested magnesium up against commonly used drugs have frequently found that magnesium comes out on top in terms of both effectiveness as well as lack of side effects.
The concentration of elemental magnesium in the pure magnesium oil is about 100 g/liter and when you apply that directly on the skin, intake rate is high. But in the case of a bath application my new recommendation needs to be brought up to somewhere between 1,500 and 5,000 mg/l magnesium (1 to 4 times the sea concentration). The Dead Sea has a concentration of up to 40,000 mg/l magnesium and people bathe every day in these waters. Fick’s Law of Membrane Permeability says that the amount of any solute (magnesium) that will be absorbed is directly dependent upon the area of contact, the concentration of the solution and the time that the solute is in contact with the membrane.
If someone is having a stroke or heart attack
you certainly do not want to throw them into
a bath with four ounces of magnesium inside.
So we are talking about setting the therapeutic level of magnesium chloride concentrations in baths much higher and I recommend between 1 and 4 pounds in an average bath. Physical therapists and dermatologists, sport therapists, spas and other clinics will want to be using cost-effective bath flakes as compared to magnesium oil to achieve higher concentrations. Shipping costs are less also because the water has been taken out of the oil to make the flakes.
The quality of the flakes are an important factor for excess heavy metal ions will also flow in with the magnesium, thus my recommendation for Ancient Mineral products that come from 250 million-year-old deposits.
 Approx 2.65 lb of good quality magnesium flakes will provide approximately 1500 mg/L in a bath. Info from LL’s Magnetic Clay who sell Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil and Bath Flakes of the purest quality: http://www.magneticclay.com/store/Departments/Ancient-Minerals-Magnesium-Bath-Flakes.aspx
 German research have shown Dead Sea salts have ultimately been the reason for reduced amounts of LangerhansA cells in the epidermis, and conversely salts of sodium chloride were void of any effect at all. (al G. S., 1990 December). Magnesium chloride is also discussed when the topic of dermatitis comes into play as an excellent treatment protocol. The anti-inflammatory result of utilizing hypertonic Dead Sea solution on atopic dermatitis by means of magnesium ions is well known. (al., 2002) Further studies also revealed that the magnesium solution greatly reduced inflammation in allergic contact dermatitis. The study involved five patients with an identified nickel allergy, where magnesium chloride (not sodium chloride) stifled nickel-sulfate induced contact dermatitis. (Greiner J, 1990 November)
 Diffusion is the mechanism by which components of a mixture are transported around the mixture by means of random molecular (Brownian) motion (cf. permeation: the ability of a diffusant to pass through a body - dependent on both the diffusion coefficient, D, and the solubility coefficient, S, ie, permeability coefficient, P = D.S). Flynn et al. cite Berthalot as postulating, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, that the flow of mass by diffusion (ie, the flux), across a plane, was proportional to the concentration gradient of the diffusant across that plane. http://www.initium.demon.co.uk/fick.htm
Strong therapeutic foot soaks are another option and are especially important for diabetics who suffer from diabetic neuropathy. Soak the whole body or just the feet in bath water for 20-30 minutes at a temperature of about 108° F. The most effective protocol for this therapy is to begin with a body or foot bath every day for the first seven days, (starting at lighter concentrations and building up) then continue with a maintenance program of 2-3 times a week for 6-8 weeks or longer. Sensitive care must be taken especially with children as to dose levels, water temperature and magnesium concentrations. Muscle spasms might occur on rare occasions if one forgets to get out of the tub, so it is necessary to supervise children and the length of time they remain soaking in magnesium chloride. All strong reactions such as redness in local areas or diarrhea or even muscle spasms are indications to reduce concentration.
Strong magnesium and bicarbonate baths may be recommended for a wide range of illnesses including arthritis, skin conditions, fibromyalgia, autism spectrum disorders and other learning disabilities, diabetes, Parkinson’s and cancer. As with any medical treatment, your bath treatments should be discussed with your primary healthcare provider before beginning treatment since a number of conditions, such as heart disease or pregnancy, can result in a serious adverse reaction if you overdo the heat or the dosages. It is always wise to start out gradually, starting with smaller quantities of minerals and lower water temperature, and it is always important to monitor your pH.
Many of the stimulating benefits of hot springs water are temperature dependent. In Japan at the famous Kusatsu hot spring, a 3-minute 125° F bath is utilized for an extraordinary therapeutic experience. Each visitor is pre-screened by the “bath master” to determine if such a bath would be safe and beneficial for them. The founder of Delight’s Hot Springs Resort kept a private and personal use therapy tub set at a consistent 116° F. For people at home I advise simply what is comfortable and normal for their routine bathing experience. Pregnant women have an extra sensitivity to the heat and need to read the section (below) that applies to them regarding baths.
We need to turn to the most alkaline minerals to increase alkalinity and obviously this starts with bicarbonate. Shifting the pH combined with heat is beneficial for cancer patients especially when cancer is near the periphery. “Give me a chance to create fever and I will cure any disease,” said Parmenides 2,000 years ago, because fever is one of the body’s own defensive and healing forces created and sustained for the deliberate purpose of restoring health. The high temperature speeds up metabolism, inhibits the growth of the invading viruses or bacteria, and literally burns the enemy.
The idea of destroying cancer with heat is certainly not new and has been widely accepted for a very long time, but the practice has had very limited applications since it was finally determined that, in order to ensure destruction of the cancerous cells, it is necessary to reach a temperature deadly to healthy cells as well. Many attempts have been made to bypass this problem and some methodologies have been developed like: localized hyperthermia, laserthermia, radio-fractionated and hyperthermia. But they all have limitations and cannot complete the job because they cannot achieve total necrosis and, unless the entire mass of neoplastic tissue is destroyed, the cancer will continue to grow. But…
Hyperthermia gives cancer a hard time by: