Herbs are a great substitute or addition to essential oils in baths. Herbs have been used in baths for thousands of years for health and for beauty – to relieve aches and pains, to improve sleep, to boost circulation, to fight colds, to energize or to relax. Use fresh or dry herbs: a teaspoonful of dried herbs equals roughly three times as much fresh herb. As a general guideline, approximately a handful of fresh herbs is good for one bath… I don’t think you have to be so strict when measuring herbs. Many of the best bath herbs are also commonly used kitchen herbs.
You can, of course, add fresh herbs or flower petals into the bath water, but you will end up with a messy bath tub and you’ll have to spend time removing bits of herbs and flowers from your hair and your skin. An easy way to make a herbal bath is to fill small muslin bags with fresh or dry herbs and add these to the water or hang them under the tap as you run the bath. Use one single herb or up to 3-4 different herbs. Small bags work just as well for foot baths, although a foot soak with fresh herbs or flowers floating in the water can be a nice experience.
Herbs to Use in a Bath:
- peppermint or mint for a refreshing bath or during a cold or fever
- lavender for a relaxing bath and to improve sleep
- rosemary for tired muscles, to lift energy levels and to boost circulation
- marjoram for achy muscles
- chamomile flowers for relaxation and good sleep
- lemon balm for a refreshing, uplifting bath
- thyme for colds and other infections
- calendula to soothe the skin
- rose petals for pure luxury or for ”women’s problems” including PMS
Chamomile and calendula are also suitable for children and babies.
Some good herbs for a foot bath include
- peppermint or mint for a refreshing foot bath
- rosemary to boost circulation or for tired feet
- lavender for aches and pains or for a relaxing evening bath
You can also make a strong herbal infusion: add a handful of fresh herbs to boiling water, infuse at least ten minutes, and use the infusion in the bath. Soak in the bath (or soak your feet in the foot bath) for at least ten minutes.
Sources: Bremness, Lesley: The Complete Book of Herbs: A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs (Studio, 1994)