depression,  Integrative Mental Health,  mental health,  wellness

Soak your way to a better mood?

A nice hot bath can be a wonderful way to wind-down or even begin each day.  Add some Epsom salt to your hot bath water,  and you have a lovely detox bath.  Combining the benefits of sweating as a result of the hot water with toxin flushing benefits of Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, detox baths can be a wonderful addition to your self care regime.  However a small new study out of Germany suggests that a hot bath may have even more benefits, including reducing the symptoms of depression.  This study, https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2018/09/12/409276.full.pdf entitled Hyperthermic Baths for Depression compared hyperthermic baths (temperature of 40 C or 104 F)  twice weekly for 20 minutes with a structured exercise program of cardio and strength training for 45 minutes twice weekly.  While both groups had a reduction in their depressive symptoms (as measured by the HAM-D score), the Hyperthermic Bath group had a greater reduction and even saw symptom improvement as early as week two.  While not a primary endpoint, another possible factor in symptom improvement could be from the improved sleep quality seen in the Hyperthermic bath group.  There are multiple limitations in this study:  size (n-45), drop out rate in the exercise group (13 of 23), and that it  is a single study that has not been duplicated.  Limitations not withstanding, Hyperthermic bathing is safe and has relatively few contraindication or side effects.  I would like to see future studies that look at the mood benefits of combining exercise with hyperthermic bathing.  No need to choose one or the other.  Why not add a few hot baths to your self care regime and see if you too find similar benefits?  I certainly  enjoy relaxing in a nice hot bath and find it to be a beneficial part of my own self care.  Hope you do too.

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