written by Molly Kay Stoltz

When I am sick or sore, when I’m uninspired, when it is dark and cold outside, or when I am stressed and need time alone, I take a bath.

Baths have become something of a luxury, but they shouldn’t be. Our lives are busy, and it is always easy to take a shower and get on with your day, but a bath forces you to slow down and think. And the benefits grow when you take a moment to add herbs or salts to your bath water.

The first thing to consider is the temperature of your water. Cool or room-temperature water can help to lower a fever or normalize your system, and can firm and strengthen you if you are able to brave the cold! On the other hand, warm water is soothing and opens your pores which can help you become decongested or eliminate toxins from your body, for example, after a hard workout or a massage.

After your consider which benefits you would like to reap, it is time to add some goodies to your water. My favorite is Epsom salt, which you can purchase at any drug store. Epsom salts can be combined with herbal essences and dried herbs to make bath salts, as Audrey Kitching does here. Or, you can use the salt on its own, as I have done as a remedy for bed bug bites (yikes!) as it can help reduce inflammation, and is also helpful after massages or a hard workout.

Along with salts, you can add a few drops of essential oils to your bath. When you are congested, tea tree oil and eucalyptus are helpful in opening your sinuses. Lavender oil is fantastic any time you need to relax, de-stress, get rid of a headache, or simply put yourself to sleep (best to do right before you go to bed!). There are many oils to choose from, so try to have a few of your favorites on the shelf in your bathroom. Take care in choosing your oils, as some can irritate the skin. Most, however, are mild.

Here is a recipe for an energizing bath, from A World of Aromatherapy– just add 3 drops of rosemary, 2 drops of lemon, and 2 drops of frankinsence oil to your bath. It’s simple to make your own combinations once you find your favorite oils.

On top of salts and oils, a blend of dried herbs placed in a muslin bag or handkerchief and tied onto the nozzle of the tub can be very beneficial. It’s just like making a very large cup of tea : ).  My favorite herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar, suggests this blend for relaxation.

Relaxing Bath Blend

2 parts chamomile

2 parts lavender

2 parts roses

1 part comfrey leaf

1. Mix herbs and place a handful in a muslin bag. Tie it to the nozzle of the tub.

2. Turn the tap on hot and let it pour through the bag, turning the water into an herbal infusion.

3. Run enough cold water into the tub to bring the water to a desirable temperature.

Rosemary suggests that you can also tie this to the shower head and once the bag is soaked through during your shower, using it as a washcloth. It’s not quite as awesome, but it’s worth a try if you absolutely don’t have time to soak.

And, if you don’t want to soak in the tub, often a foot bath with the same addition of salts and herbs can help as well. Just make sure to dry your feet and keep them nice and toasty after you soak them for a good 30 minutes!

Here’s to a restful and relaxed January as the snow begins to fall : )


Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health