Advocates of the saltwater flush believe the procedure helps remove toxins, old waste material, and parasites in the colon. But before jumping on the bandwagon, there are several things to keep in mind.

A saltwater flush is used to cleanse your colon, treat chronic constipation, and help detox your body. It became a popular trend as part of the Master Cleanse detox and fasting program.

It involves drinking a mixture of warm water and non-iodized salt. Drinking salt and warm water has a laxative effect. It usually causes urgent bowel movements within 30 minutes to an hour, although it may take longer.

Based on anecdotal evidence, a saltwater flush appears to be effective in the short term at cleansing the colon by causing bowel movements.

However, there’s no scientific evidence that a saltwater flush detoxes the body or removes so-called waste buildup and parasites from your digestive tract.

Though the internet is full of salt flush testimonies, specific success rates are difficult to come by.

There aren’t any official medical guidelines about who is a candidate for a saltwater flush.

Supporters recommend the procedure for people who are chronically constipated or who are experiencing irregular bowel movements. The flush may also be recommended as part of a detox diet or juice fast.

The unofficial standard procedure for a salt water flush is to:

  1. Dissolve two teaspoons (tsp) of non-iodized sea salt (such as Pink Himalayan sea salt) in one quart (four cups) of warm water.
  2. Add lemon juice to improve the taste, if desired.
  3. Drink the mixture as quickly as possible on an empty stomach.

You should feel the urge to have a bowel movement shortly after drinking the saltwater mixture.

Why do a salt water flush in the morning?

A saltwater flush is typically done first thing in the morning upon waking. It may also be performed in the evening, a few hours after your last meal. It doesn’t matter what time of day you do the flush as long as it’s done on an empty stomach.

Don’t plan on running errands or exercising for a few hours after drinking the salt water. You’re likely to have multiple, urgent bowel movements. So, you shouldn’t venture too far from a toilet.

Note that two tsp of salt is already double the 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day recommended by Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

While having this amount on occasion isn’t likely to cause harm, drinking saltwater on an empty stomach may cause some nausea and vomiting.

Higher levels of salt consumption, such as during a colonoscopy preparation cleanse, can also lead to cramping, bloating, and dehydration. Colon cleansing, in general, may cause an electrolyte imbalance due to the rapid loss of sodium and fluids.

This may lead to:

  • muscle spasms
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • irregular heartbeat
  • seizures
  • blood pressure problems

Although most people experience bowel movements after a salt water flush, some people don’t. A saltwater flush may increase your risk of sodium overload. This may lead to high blood pressure.

Don’t do a saltwater flush if you have:

  • heart problems
  • diabetes
  • edema
  • kidney problems
  • high blood pressure
  • gastrointestinal issues, such as ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease

Juice fasts, detox teas, and laxative pills are alternative ways to purge the colon. They may cause urgent bowel movements, but there’s no scientific evidence that they remove toxins or help manage constipation over the long term. They may be dangerous for some people.

The best way to cleanse your colon and detox your body is to support your body’s natural detoxifying organs: the liver and kidneys. They filter out toxins from your blood so your body can eliminate them through your bowels or kidneys. You can show your liver and kidneys some TLC by:

  • drinking plenty of water
  • taking prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications as prescribed
  • eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • curbing your consumption of alcohol
  • limiting your exposure to toxic substances in cleaning products, pesticides, insecticides, and personal care products
  • not smoking
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • managing your blood pressure
  • exercising regularly

Increasing your intake of soluble and insoluble fiber helps keep your bowels running smoothly. Eating more fiber probably won’t give you the immediate results that you’ll get from a saltwater flush, but it may help you better manage chronic constipation.

Learn more: Colon cleanse: what you need to know.

A saltwater flush will probably cause urgent bowel movements and cleanse your colon.

Unless you have a serious medical condition or you’re pregnant, a single flush is unlikely to do serious harm, although you may feel lousy for a while. You shouldn’t do saltwater flushes regularly.

Because a saltwater flush and other types of colon cleanse are unpredictable and may be dangerous, don’t fall for the hype.

Instead, do all you can to support your body’s natural cleansing systems and rely on them to keep toxins at bay. If you want to try a saltwater cleanse, talk with your doctor first to determine if it’s a safe option for you.