Not since the age when you made mud pies have you associated mud with fun. You may think that lolling in dirt can't offer any real benefits, but mud baths are a relaxing way to unwind -- and they're good for you, too.
For thousands of years, mud baths have been touted as a cure-all for a number of health ailments. While some of these claims have never been proved, mud baths do have anti-inflammatory properties that make them beneficial [sources: Matz]. They also contain many minerals that can soothe itchy, irritated skin. [source: Bouchez]. In fact, people with conditions, such as psoriasis, rosacea and spondylitis, have found relief from their ailments by taking a dip in these seemingly innocuous dirt-and-water concoctions.
The name may be misleading, though -- mud baths don't contain your everyday backyard soil. Spas and salons typically use a soil composed of seaweed, volcanic ash, clay and other mineral-rich substances mixed with mineral or spring water. The mud is usually heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit -- -- the heat will relax your muscles, and you'll probably perspire while you're in the tub [source: HealthSpa].
With all of these benefits, there's no reason to wait for your next spa visit. Even if you can't afford a trip to the spa, you can still pamper yourself -- there are many ways to re-create the spa experience from the comfort of your home.
Keep reading to soak up more information on mud bath benefits.
Benefits of Mud Baths
Everyone deserves to be pampered once in a while, and few things are more relaxing than a trip to the spa. It may feel strange to submerge your body in a tub full of warm dirt and water, but mud baths do have several health benefits. For thousands of years, people all over the world have believed in the healing powers of mud, and natural hot springs were popular long before the creation of the modern health spa [source: Lund].
One benefit of mud baths is their anti-inflammatory properties -- soaking in mud and its minerals can help alleviate aches and muscle pains. Another mud bath advantage is the soothing effect mud and its minerals -- including sodium, magnesium and potassium -- can have on the skin. Soaking in mud baths can even help relieve the symptoms of many conditions such as psoriasis and rosacea [sources: Matz]. However, people with these conditions should be careful that the mud isn't too grainy -- it can irritate their skin [source: Bouchez]. Studies show that mud baths can even improve spinal symptoms in patients with spondylitis, a painful disease caused by inflammation of the vertebrae [source: Cozzi].
You don't have to pay for spa treatments to enjoy a relaxing mud bath. Read on to get the dirt on how to make your own soothing mud bath at home.
How to Make a Mud Bath
A mud bath is a great way to relax and refresh, and its anti-inflammatory properties and soothing minerals can work wonders on your skin. Thankfully, you don't have to make a trip to the spa to get the relief you seek.
But before you dive in, be warned: Making your own mud bath is not as easy as mixing dirt and water -- any old backyard mud just won't do. To achieve the same health benefits as you would at the spa, you need mud that contains lots of minerals and nutrients. Combine the mud with warm water until it reaches an ideal consistency and soak it in for 10 to 15 minutes. Another option is to mix potting soil with water and milk powder [source: Yankee Magazine]. These ingredients are easier to find, and the milk powder will have a soothing effect that's similar to a traditional mud bath [source: Bender].
Of course, mud can be messy, and if the dirt is too grainy, it can clog your drain. A fun way to simulate the experience of a mud bath and pamper your skin at the same time is to make a chocolate mud bath. Mix milk, chocolate powder or syrup, cornstarch and vanilla and pour it under warm running water. Not only will the milk make your skin soft, but this "mud bath" also smells delicious [source: Van].
Check out the links on the following page for more tips on at-home mud baths and other spa treatments.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Bender, Michele. "Soothing Soaks for Smooth, Sexy Skin." Health magazine (Accessed 9/21/09)http://living.health.com/2007/03/01/soothing-soaks-for-smooth-sexy-skin/
- Bouchez, Colette. "Spas: The Risks and the Benefits." Web MD (Accessed 9/14/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/spas-the-risks-and-benefits?page=3
- Catanese, Nicole. "Beauty Treatments: Create Your Own Spa Treatments at Home." Fitness magazine (Accessed 9/21/09)http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/beauty/guides/makeovers/create-your-own-home-spa-treatments/
- Cozzi, Franco. "Mud-bath treatment in spondylitis with inflammatory bowel disease -- a pilot randomized clinical trial." (Accessed 10/13/09) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W90-4NVKXXT-2&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1046884081&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=b562bbcd692025121bf6be8fa49b8f75
- Lund, John W. "Balneological Use of Thermal Waters." International Workshop on Balneology and 'Water' Tourist Centers" (Accessed 9/14/09)http://www.sld.cu/galerias/pdf/sitios/rehabilitacion-bal/lundwj2.pdf
- Matz, Hagit, et al. "Balneotherapy in Dermatology." Dermatologic Therapy (Accessed 9/14/09).http://www.sld.cu/galerias/pdf/sitios/rehabilitacion-bal/matzh_et_al.pdf
- Mayo Clinic. "Psoriasis." (Accessed 9/21/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/psoriasis/DS00193
- Van, Rhonda. "The Bath Gourmet." 2004 (Accessed 9/21/09) http://books.google.com/books?id=W3dU_UqA-cEC&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=making+a+mud+bath&source=bl&ots=LozXw-is2k&sig=xcKw1LX0C9HSmrj5gLeSQNU8-_o&hl=en&ei=8oy3SrbqIoPkNYOz2NoO&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q=making%20a%20mud%20bath&f=false
- Web MD. "Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits." (Accessed 9/17/09)http://www.webmd.com/balance/massage-therapy-styles-and-health-benefits
- Yankee Magazine. "Living Well on a Shoestring." 2000 (Accessed 9/21/09)http://books.google.com/books?id=ie_2XMqudQMC&pg=PA292&lpg=PA292&dq=making+a+mud+bath&source=bl&ots=za4iJDavhM&sig=IKGUXkhdzW0erjzUyORzTu6rwXk&hl=en&ei=tIu3Suj5N4ykMdOe1NoO&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q=&f=false