Many of us have experienced how a warm, aromatic bath can swathe our minds and body in serenity. Science has demonstrated how scent has long been recognized as the most evocative of the five senses; memories can be recalled and moods can be altered with the introduction of specific smells. This is inevitably why the cosmetic industry has used this science to their advantage. There are a plethora of soaps and bath products with catchy marketing phrases. To this day, anyone who watched television in the 70’s and 80’s can remember Calgon’s “take me away” to entice consumers into using their products.
The problem is that many companies use chemicals, not botanicals, to awaken your senses as well as your mind. An herbal bath can do all this without the harsh ingredients that may damage your skin and well-being. One thing to remember, our skin absorbs. Along with scent, this is how herbal baths nourish and rejuvenate us, and also why knowing exactly what goes into the products you use is really important. So whether you are stressed out, have dry skin, or have any aches there is a wide selection of herbs and oils that can address your needs.
Make an Herbal Bath Bag
To make a bath bag, fill a small muslin bag, (or you can use new panty hose) with desired wildcrafted plants and herbs. You can also use a square of cheesecloth tied with yarn. If you have old, thin socks in your drawers and they are clean, using these is an option too.
Place the tied bag in a tub partially filled with hot water. Steep about 15 minutes, then fill as you normally do. Keep the bag in the water during your bath to get all the benefit, giving it an occasional squeeze. If showers are what you prefer then use an herbal bag for a brisk rubdown.
Before creating any herbal bath bag, be aware of any allergies to plants and watch for signs of skin irritation. Generally, fresh (or dried) plants are milder than many store-bought products that contain chemicals, artificial colourings and other additives. When making your herbal bath bag, all ingredients can be added in equal parts.
Herbs to Use
Traditionally, various herbs have been recommended for specific problems; but nowadays we know that many herbs have more than one attribute appear in more than one category. Those listed below are just a few of the many herbs (fresh, dried or essential oils) you can use. Mix and match according to your needs.
Antiseptic: aloe vera, balsam fir, barberry, bergamot (wild), burdock root, cinnamon, cloves, elecampane, eucalyptus, holy basil, juniper berries, lemon, lemongrass, linden flowers, marjoram, mullein, neem, peppermint, pine, sage, sarsaparilla root, tea tree oil, thuja oil (cedar), thyme and yarrow.
Cleansing: calendula, chamomile, geranium, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, mint, and rose (domestic or wild).
Fragrance: acacia, basil, cedar, cinnamon, cloves, geranium leaves, hibiscus, jasmine, lavender, lemon balm, lemon peel, myrtle, patchouli, pine, rose, sandalwood, verbena, and ylang ylang.
Relaxing: ashwaganda, catnip, celandine, chamomile, elder, frankincense, fumitory, geranium, hemp oil, hops, jasmine, kava kava, lavender, lemon balm, linden flowers, myrrh, passion flower, skullcap, sweet woodruff, wild lettuce, and valerian root.
Skin Care: aloe vera, calendula, chamomile, chickweed, comfrey, cleavers, gotu kola, hemp, and hibiscus. For itching: oatmeal, pennyroyal, and peppermint. For stimulation: basil, bay, lavender, lemon balm, lemon peel, peppermint, pine needles, rose buds, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, and yarrow.
Tonic: (immune system & energy) angelica root, ashwaganda, blessed thistle, blackberry leaves, cleavers, coltsfoot, dandelion root, ginkgo biloba, horsetail, meadowsweet, raspberry leaves, red clover, and stinging nettle.
Epsom salts are infamous for being absorbed through the skin to relieve muscle tension, pain, and inflammation in joints. They have been known to alleviate tension headaches, soothe abdominal cramps and to help detoxify. Tired and sore feet also benefit from the therapeutic warmth of an Epsom salt soak.
For centuries there have been mineral and ocean spas that were used for helping people with circulation issues. Mineral muds were commonly used, but may not be easily attained; but what can be easily purchased is Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate). By adding four or five handfuls of this into your bath water will help you in many ways. You can also add in a cup of course salt. Add a few drops of pine essential oil (or fresh pine needles) for an invigorating smell.
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can naturally kill any bacteria or fungus on your skin. It’s especially beneficial to people who suffer from eczema, dry skin, dandruff, and athlete’s foot. Its antibacterial properties can also help to reduce acne. Dab some on your face while in the bath to help with acne.
When the bad bacteria on our skin blend with sweat or moisture from our body, this can create odour. Apple cider vinegar can kill these bacteria and eliminate the odour.
This incredible vinegar in the bath water can help reduce back, neck, and knee pain. Apple cider vinegar is known to help with joint pain.
Fill your bath with warm or hot water and add 1 to 2 cups (125 to 250 ml) of organic apple cider vinegar. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes. After your bath, allow the apple cider vinegar water to dry on your skin.
Creating a safe, relaxing, health-nourishing herbal bath takes little effort. Try not to rely on products whose ingredients you can barely pronounce. Please keep in mind, there are some companies out there that to this day, do not reveal all their ingredients. Know exactly what is going into your bath water by having fun creating your own herbal bath mixtures.