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Bath Therapy

Did you know that bathing is actually an ancient therapeutic practice called balneotherapy. Romans recognized the importance of water therapy and even provided public bath houses for citizens. Ayurvedic healers use steams, baths, and cold water plunges to maintain health based on your constitution–also known as doshas—and promote circulation. Almost all ancient cultures prescribe therapeutic bathing rituals to promote overall wellness and calm the skin, our body’s largest organ.

Herbs and oils have long been combined with bath therapy to relax the mind, soothe sore muscles, and promote supple skin.

Whether you are drawing a bath infused with medicinal herbs or lathering on a natural and nourishing lotion, these healthy habits are fundamental to whole body wellness. In our busy lives, it can often be hard to fully show up for ourselves and commit to these simple acts of self-love. When we weave herbs into wellness, these practices become even more enticing, like a sweet treat we want to indulge in again and again.

That being said, a hot bath a week is a pleasure, but a hot bath every day will weaken your system. Like eating a slice of cake, taking a hot bath is a treat, but bathing in hot water regularly puts you at an increased risk for developing a disease because it reduces your good brown fat. Never immerse yourself in extremely hot bathwater and always end your hot bath with a short cold shower or gush, starting with your feet, followed by your hands, face, and then your whole body.

Keep in mind that healthy skin and healthy bodies are also fueled by whole foods, proper hydration, and regular sleep.

Herbs for a Hot Bath

Some herbs just smell good, while others have a medicinal effect. Some herbal baths work through osmosis (some molecules are taken up through your skin) and others by inhaling the healing aromas. Choose your bath herbs according to your needs. And don’t be surprised to find that some of the herbs you’re using in your foods are also good for bath time!

Let’s take a look at some of my favorites!

Chamomile relieves pain and provides relief from insect bites.

Dandelion flowers renew your skin and will drive away the winter blues.

Eucalyptus opens your lungs and helps you breathe.

Grated ginger enhances bloodflow to all parts of your body.

Hops relieve insomnia and will leave you sleepy.

Jasmine enhances your mood and refreshes your skin.

Lavender calms your nerves and rejuvenates your skin.

Linden flowers aid in relaxation and could stifle a cold before it takes hold.

Meadowsweet relieves sore muscles and improves your mood.

Mint stimulates and heals your skin.

Orange blossoms aid in relaxation and lower blood pressure.

Parsley heals bruises.

Rose petals relax your body and refresh your skin after a long day.

Rosemary promotes relaxation.

Sage prevents stiff, sore muscles after a workout.

Stinging nettle promotes circulation and heals aching joints.

Steeped Baths

Made with Leaves & Flowers 

Here are two of my favorite options to make an herbal bath.  

One is to put a handful of each herb you are using in a large pot. Fill the pot with water and heat to almost boiling, keeping a lid on the pot so the essential oils from the herbs don’t evaporate. Take the pot off the heat and let your bath infuse for 20 minutes to a few hours. Then strain the liquid directly into your tub, fill the tub the rest of the way  with water and your bath is ready.  

The other method is to fill a cloth, muslin bag or even A thin sock with your herbal mixture.  Close the top and toss your herb bundle into a tub filled with the hottest water you have.  Walk away for a while and give your bath time to cool down to a comfortable temperature.  When you come back your bath will have infused right in the tub!  This is a great method for making prepacked baths to have next to your tub or even to give away as gifts.  

Here is one of my favorite baths:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup epsom salt
  • 2 Tablespoons dried rose petals
  • 2 Tablespoons dried lavender
  • lavender essential oil*

Instructions

  1. Place oats in a blender or food processor and process for 20-30 seconds, until oats turn into oat flour.
  2. Add epsom salt, processed oats, rose petals and dried lavender into a mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Divide mixture in half and store in a cute containers or muslin bags.
  3. When ready to take a bath add about 1 cup of the mixture into a muslin bag, pull the drawstring, submerge the bag into the warm water and let steep like a bag of loose leaf tea. You can also pour the bath soak directly into the tub, but it’s kind of messy and not super relaxing to have to clean the tub after your bath.

*If you want a more powerful scent, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the mixture.

A word of caution: While my name is Dr. Faith I would like to remind you that I am not an MD but that I am a PhD. As a holistic health professional I would like to add this:: A hot bath also lowers your blood pressure, so avoid it if yours is already low; otherwise, it may leave you weak and faint. A cold shower, on the other hand, spikes your blood pressure for a few seconds but lowers it in the long run. If you have heart failure or any kind of heart problem, you should avoid hot baths due to the fluid pressure the water exerts on your chest, which can trigger or escalate heart failure. A warm half bath (where the water rises only to your navel) is a good alternative.

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