Sunday, January 9, 2011

Crafting Herbal Baths

Herbal baths are deeply relaxing.  They help take the edge off the day, calm and quiet the mind, encourage deep sleep and sometimes are just the comfort one needs in a rough and busy world.  Now that the hectic holiday season is past, we have time to pamper ourselves a bit. Time to read those books we haven't had time for, try some new recipes, and maybe even enjoy some luxurious herbal baths. Depending on the herbs you use and the temperature of the water, you can create a bath that is relaxing, stimulating, uplifting, soothing, decongesting, or otherwise curative. 

Remember that the largest organ of the body is your skin and using it as a way to assimilate toxins and assimilate treatments is the easiest and among the most effective. Unfortunately people tend to shy away from taking baths anymore, opting for showers in an age of efficiency.  People have replaced the slow, peaceful nature of bathing with a quick shower.

Now truly a bath is only soothing if you fit in the bathtub, but now the movement is swinging back to large deep soaking tubs, so people are slowly realizing that they may have lost something in the efficiency of a quick shower.

The temperature of the water will affect the healing quality of the bath.  Cool to tepid is excellent for lowering fever or normalizing the system.  A warm bath is relaxing and soothing to the nervous system.  Cold water is stimulating and contracting and will firm and strengthen the inter system if you are brave enough to endure it.

To make Herbal Baths

To craft an herbal bath, use 3 to 4 ounces of herbs per tub.  Use the herbs to make an extra strong herbal tea; strain and add the tea to the bathwater.  Or you can bundle the mixed herbs in a swatch of cotton fabric and tie it directly onto the nozzle of the tub.  Run hot water through the herbal bundle until the tub is half-filled, then toss the bundle in the tub and adjust the temperature with cold water.  Soak in the bath for 20 to 30 minutes to enjoy the full benefits of the herbs.

Now if you cannot take a soak in the full tub, a hand or foot soak may be the way to go.  Remember all the nerves of the body pass through the feet and hands.  Simply choose an appropriately-sized container and adjust the proportion of herbs to water accordingly.

Herbs with healing properties for the bath:

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)- a building immune system herb especially through the rebuilding of bone marrow.  It has been used for preventing and treating long-term infections including colds and flu.  Because it helps regulate metabolism and circulation it is good with dietary sugars and may be used by some to treat diabetes.

Black cohosh - has many estrogen-like qualities and is used often by menopausal women.  It is especially good at relieving the stress and nervous tension that often accompanies the menstrual cycle.  Black Cohosh should not be used during pregnancy.

Burdock -  is used often in tea and tinctures.  In the bath it is great for itchy, irritated skin.

Calendula – great for your hair as well as your body, this herb in the bath is great for treating burns, sores, bruises and skin ulcers.  And as a hair rinse it is best for brown and blond hair.

Chamomile – beyond its well-known soothing abilities as a tea chamomile in the bath is very soothing and works as a powerful anti-inflammatory.  It is also effective with sore and achy muscles.  It is considered gentle enough to use in a baby’s bath.

Dandelion – this herb is bitter and not always the best tasting, however it has restorative and rejuvenating properties that you can use in the bath and avoid the bitter taste. 

Mullein – known for its ability to speed healing and ease pain from bruising this can be useful in a bath blend.

Lavender – can be taken internally and externally for relaxation, but its best use is an antibiotic and anti spasmodic.  So toss some in the bath and enjoy the aroma and the benefits to skin.

Lemon Balm - helps to dispel nervous anxiety and gladden the heart.

Peppermint – will induce perspiration and eliminate body toxins.  It can also reduce head congestion.

Rose petals  - are soothing both for the skin and for the nervous system.

St. John’s Wort – an herb that gets a great deal of press for treating depression and giving healing, but it is also a great herb of back pain because of its work within nerve tissue.

Thyme  - is good for infections and inflammations.  The active ingredient in thyme is an exceptional antiseptic.  Added to the bath it is a wonderful treatment for ailments and germ fighting.  Great in foot baths as well.

The Backyard Patch has a large number of Bath Bags and Sachets 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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