Soaking in bathwater infused with aromatic herbs is an excellent way to experience the cleansing and healing benefits of plants. It’s also an unbeatable way to relax and ease away the tensions of a stressful day at work!
Because your body is able to absorb some medicinal compounds through your skin, herbal baths have as many therapeutic uses as they do cosmetic benefits. “Hydrotherapy” and “balneotherapy” are terms regularly used to describe the use of baths to treat physical ailments, including damaged skin. Among many other applications, therapeutic herbal baths can help soothe itchy or irritated skin, ease sore muscles, treat stress and insomnia, reduce fevers, and heal problems in anal and genital areas.
Frequent hot baths can be drying to your skin, however. When treating dry skin, include colloidal oatmeal or other emollient herbs (such as seaweed), or add herb-infused vegetable oils directly to your bathwater. If you’re adding oil, be careful not to slip on the oily surface when getting in and out of the tub.
Because herbs are so easily absorbed through the soles of your feet, foot soaks can also confer therapeutic benefits. Simply add an herbal infusion of your choice to a large basin of warm water and soak your feet for 10 minutes.
How to Make an Herbal Bath
There are two main methods for making an herbal bath. One is to start by making a strong herbal infusion (or tea) by steeping dried herbs in boiling water: Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried herbs, or several handfuls of fresh herbs, per 2 cups of water. Then add the prepared infusion to your bathwater.
Another easy way to make an herbal bath is to place a mixture of herbs in a cloth bag (muslin and cheesecloth both work well), and suspend this from the bath tap so that the hot water flows through it and soaks the herbs as the bath fills. After your bath, discard the herbs and save the bag for future herbal baths.
To take advantage of one of the best-kept beauty secrets of the ancients, add about 1 cup of powdered milk to your bathwater. Milk products exfoliate and tone your skin, leaving it feeling exceptionally soft and supple.