Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bath Herbs for Winter Blahs

The other day I introduced the idea of making an herbal bath with some information on herbs to use in them and their wonderful herbal properties to enjoy (click here to see that blog).  I want to expand on that a bit today with more information on blending the herbs for a bath and how to use them.
Many times baths are a nice change from showers, but if you are using this change for just a quick "wash-up," remember that they can be a relaxing and therapeutic experience if savored!
In times past the herbal bath was held in great regard, and in many cultures the bath was so important that social institutions were built around it. Herbs used in these baths were chosen depending on the benefits derived from them. In Rome the bath waters were scented, but also disinfected, by tossing lavender into them. Catherine the Great had scouts traveling about in Europe and the Far East searching for herbs that would be beneficial skin tonics in her baths.

Adding herbs to the bath can be done in a couple of ways. Simply prepare a strong infusion of the herbs of your choosing. To make an infusion add about ½ cup herbs to 1 to 2 cups water and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and add about 1 cup to the bath water. You can also place a handful of herbs into a muslin bag with a long drawstring. Tie the string to the water tap and let the water flow through the bag as you fill the tub. Let the bag steep in the water and do its job as you relax and enjoy. To get some extra benefits from the herbs, scrub a bit with the bag.

As an added option when preparing your bath bags, mix an equal amount of oatmeal (not the quick kind) with the herbs. This will soften the water and soothe the skin. Milk is also soothing to the skin. Mix some powdered milk with your herbs when making up the bags. Chamomile or calendula added to the milk will make skin especially soft.
Other ways to enjoy the addition of herbs to the bath are using an herb vinegar, herbal oil, or bath salts. Herb vinegar is excellent for softening the skin and it helps get rid of dry flaky, itchy skin. Bath salts soften the water and can be therapeutic when made with bicarbonate of soda, which neutralizes the acids of the skin. Essential oils added to a carrier oil make a fragrant and relaxing bath.
Some ideas for bath blends:
Herbs for relaxation: Chamomile, calendula, comfrey, lavender
Stimulating herbal baths: Rosemary, peppermint, sweet marjoram, parsley
Soothing bath herbs: Calendula, comfrey, catnip, rose, yarrow
Try some of the following recipes, or experiment and see what you like the most. You will feel like you are visiting a healing spa!

Soothing Citrus Bath Blend
1-1/2 cups chamomile
1-1/4 cups comfrey
3/4 cups jasmine flowers
1-1/4 cups lemon balm
1-1/4 cups orange peel
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use a handful in a bath bag for each bath.
Calming and Warming Bath Blend
1 cup rosemary
1 cup lavender
1/2 cup thyme
1/2 cup rose geranium

Cover 1/2 cup of the mixture with 1 cup boiling water. Steep 20 minutes. Drain liquid into bath water. Tie herbs into a thin washcloth to use as an herbal scrub. This mixture will make 6 baths.

Herbal Vinegar Bath Recipe
Add 2 handfuls of your choice of herbs (individual or a combination) to 5 cups vinegar. Bring to a boil and let stand overnight. Strain and bottle. Add 1 capful to the bath. Refrigerate and use as desired.

Bath Oil with Essential Oils
4 parts Turkey Red Oil
1 part essential oil (a single fragrance or a mixture)

Add to the warm bath water to soften the skin as you bathe.Note: Turkey Red Oil is a processed castor oil that will mix into the water rather than floating on top.
The Backyard Patch has a large number of Bath Bags and Sachets, Milk Baths and Soothing Oat Baths to try if you want to experiment with the soothing properties of a bath.  Check out our listings at Ebay.  And this winter we developed a bath sampler with three heat-sealed tea bags containing three different bath blends.  You can find this in our SAMPLER listings.

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