A bath can be much more than just a relaxing way to end the day. If you use herbs or essential oils in the bath, the warm bath water will open the skin’s pores, and the therapeutic and medicinal properties of the oils and herbs are easily absorbed to benefit the body and mind. An herbal or aromatic bath can
- encourage better sleep
- relax muscles
- relieve pain
- relieve symptoms of colds and the flu
- prevent and heal stress
- and calm down a busy mind.
A warm bath relaxes muscles and relieves aches and pains. A bath with cool or lukewarm water can be helpful during fever, especially if you use essential oils that help to bring down fever – such as Peppermint or Bergamot. If you don’t have a bath tub or if you are concerned about wasting water, a foot bath is a good alternative.
How to Use Herbs in a Bath
You can use fresh or dry herbs, essential oils, cold-pressed vegetable oils, sea salt, Epsom salts, and even milk in your bath. Herbs have been used in baths for thousands of years for health and for beauty. As a general guideline, approximately a handful of fresh herbs is good for one bath. A teaspoonful of dried herbs equals roughly three times as much fresh herb.
An easy way to make an herbal bath is to fill small muslin bags with herbs, hang the bag(s) from the tap, and let hot water run through the bag as you run your bath. Once your bath is ready, throw the bag into the bath water and get in. Another option is to prepare a strong herbal tea and add it into the bath (you might want to read How to Make an Herbal Infusion first). Of course, you can add some herbs directly into the bath water if you don’t mind being covered with leaves. A few flowers or leaves floating on the water can make the bath look lovely. Stay in the bath at least 20-30 minutes. Read How to Use Herbs in Baths for suggestions on great bath herbs.
How to Use Essential Oils in a Bath
Essential oils contain the medicinal and therapeutic properties of many herbs in a concentrated form. The warm water helps the absorption of the oils through the skin while you also inhale the aromatic vapors. Fill the bath tub with warm water, and add 6 drops of your chosen essential oils just before you are about to get in. Use your hands to stir the water so that the oils disperse well. When using oils that are potential skin irritants, mix the essential oils with a tablespoon of base oil or a little sea salt. Read Tips for Using Essential Oils in the Bath and try these recipes for DIY bath products:
- Bath Blends for the Flu Season
- DIY Bath Salts
- Energizing Aromatherapy Bath Blends
- Nourishing Bath Blends for the Winter
- 3 Simple Relaxing Aromatherapy Bath Blends
How to Avoid Wasting Water
One major concern with bathing is the environmental one: baths use up a lot of water, more than a typical shower. A quick shower is definitely more eco-friendly than a bath. However, a long shower under a power shower might use even more water than an average bath. If you’re concerned about wasting water, try taking baths only occasionally – when you need them for therapeutic reasons, such as to relieve aches and pains, or at the start of a cold. Sharing a bath with family members is less wasteful than running a separate bath for each family member. Use only as much water as you need and don’t overfill the tub. Or, try the footbath recipes in Refreshing, De-Stressing and Energizing Foot Baths: the therapeutic benefits of the herbs and essential oils will be absorbed through your feet, too.
Read more about using herbs at home in Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family