This Detoxifying Self-Care Practice Can Help You Sleep, Detox, and More
rē-think bathing as a tool for better health.
If you’ve ever booked a spa day with the excuse of taking a “mental health day,” prepare to be vindicated — the argument truly has legs. The healing-adjacent aspect of spa culture dates back to the rich, cultural origins of ‘the water cure,’ from therapeutic soaks in thermal springs, to modern-day, clinical applications in hydrotherapy. “Hydrotherapy is a wonderful wellness practice,” says naturopathic doctor Nadia Musavvir, N.D., alluding to the strategic manipulation of water temperatures to treat and relieve various ailments. “The practice [can] modulate the nervous system and is such a great way to improve vitality. When done properly, the results of a balanced and tonified nervous system result in improved sleep, detoxification, and digestion.”
Going well beyond grooming simply for the sake of hygiene, the Western applications of bathing for better health date back to when Roman soldiers first noticed the healing effects of the thermal water in Budapest, Hungary, where the ‘healing water’ had long been revered and relied upon for wellness by the locals. Nicknamed “Spa City” for its hundreds of natural, mineral-rich thermal springs, Budapest’s famous thermal baths remain an embedded element of their modern culture and medical regimes. In Budapest, the prized thermal springs have become luxury commodities, playing a role in the spa offerings at five-star resorts like the Four Seasons Gresham Palace in Budapest, which features treatments using the luxury skincare line Omorovicza. (Fun fact: The brand’s Queen of Hungary Face Mist is the same formula once spritzed by the Queen of Hungary herself!)
Getting the most of this wellness practice requires making it accessible, with geography, time, and budgeting as modern-day constraints. Shannon Vaughn, founder, and CEO of Pursoma, is committed to making the healing benefits of bathing accessible to everyone with a tub. She dove into understanding what makes water so healing, inspired by the transformative effects of bathing in sea salts on her health. She then learned to rē-create the experience in your tubs at home as a self-care practice. She believes so strongly in the healing potential of bathing — or “hot water immersion” — that she has used it as part of a daily ritual for everything from a monthly detox, to promoting better sleep, to managing a chronic health condition, ever since.
rē-think the Bathtub as a Vessel for Healing
“At Pursoma, we see the bathtub as a healing vessel that sits inside your home. You might see it as a way to clean, but we see it as a way to cleanse,” Vaughn begins. “This simple appliance is the best wellness tool you have.” She explains that her unique perspective on bathing culture began as a result of her own health struggles with a reproductive disorder and a chronic illness. As she treated and learned to manage her health, she relied heavily on the therapeutic properties of bathing to do so. Inspired by the experience, enrolled at Georgetown medical school before withdrawing to found Pursoma, fulfilling her dream of creating a wellness company devoted to “detox and anti-anxiety rituals” that could easily be practiced at home.
Sea Salt vs. Epsom
What stands out about Pursoma — aside from their blends for things like Digital Detox, Apres Savasana (for yoga-lovers), the Just Breathe Ritual, and the immunity-boosting Hot Tub (beloved by our Editorial Director’s son) — is their meticulous attention to sourcing. “It took me four years to be able to source my own ingredients directly from farmers so that I could personally guarantee that the core healing ingredients were raw and natural,” she explains of her devotion to purity and potency in the quest for wellness. She ultimately opened her own manufacturing facility in order to assure their quality without any traces of doubt.
One of the main distinctions she would like to make about Pursoma is that they use sea salts — and never Epsom salts. “Sea salts are so mineral-rich, while Epsom salts are not actually salt at all; Epsom is sodium chloride and liquid magnesium processed in a factory into crystallized flakes,” Vaughn explains. “[While] sea salt contains a whole family of minerals from the ocean, we add pure seabed magnesium for a nutrient-dense soak that remineralizes your body and does way more than just ease your muscles.”
While Epsom salts can absolutely soothe your muscles after an intense workout, there is a compelling case for heading straight to the source of nature‘s mineral-rich bounty instead. Vaughn believes that by regularly indulging in mineral sea salt baths, you can boost bodily resistance to illness and disease — in part due to the minerals, but also because the practice is anti-inflammatory. She has also observed that sea salt helps speed up the healing of nicks, cuts, and wounds (just like the Roman soldiers discovered), calming skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, while reducing the inflammation at the root of many diseases.
Regular Bathing vs. Detox Soaking
To be clear, bathing as a self-care or self-love practice is more than just cleansing; it is taking time to connect within where you intentionally make wellness — mental and physical — the intention. But it is also important to distinguish between bathing as a nightly way to hit “pause,” and detox soaking, which Vaughn recommends weekly or monthly.
“The main difference between our daily and detox soaks is clay and seaweed,” Vaughn says, explaining that they combine French green clay with sea salts in order to pull toxins from the body. She believes that French clay’s incorporation can help regulate blood sugar, treat acne, and help the body absorb high levels of calcium, magnesium, and iron. Seaweed, on the other hand, is there to support the thyroid gland — the endocrine center responsible for hormone regulation, metabolism, growth, energy, and cellular reproduction and repair.
“The amount of vitamins and minerals found in seaweed is astounding,” she continues, noting that they nourish the body with a multitude of nutrients while also helping you retain their benefits. “So, the sea salt, clay, and seaweed come together to create a detox experience that cleanses you inside-and-out. While you shed toxins through perspiration in the [hot] tub, our soaks re-mineralize and re-hydrate your body.”
Best Bathing Practices
Think of bathing as a complementary, cleansing adjunct to your existing wellness- and health-regimens. To make the practice especially therapeutic, she recommends drinking as much water or tea as possible during your soak, as well as setting the mood — evoking the legacy of spa culture in the privacy of your own home. “Turning your bathroom into a sanctuary space is crucial, whatever that means to you — candles, incense, essential oils, playing music…” (The brand has curated bathing playlists on their Pursoma Spotify profile!)
Vaughn’s personal experience has left her adamant that self-care is a birthright — and bathing for better health, accessible to all with a bathtub, is key. “We are born with the right to protect and nurture ourselves,” she says. “Nature is very good at offering us these restorative gifts, and in modern life, we seem to have to fight for them. That’s why I find bathing [to be] the easiest and most restorative way I can take care of myself.”
As we wrap up Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to note that regularly checking-in with yourself and engaging in stress reduction are ways to become empowered in tending to your mental health. Time spent alone, having a therapeutic soak, provides a valuable mental vacation in which to detach from the stress of the day, giving your mind permission to take a rest, and allowing your relaxation response to kick in. Learning various ways to activate the parasympathetic state that relaxes the body and nervous system, training your brain to return to a place of calm, provides you with invaluable tools in your self-care toolkits to keep you feeling empowered in your wellness practices.
At rē•spin, providing you with these types of pro-health options is what we are all about.