One of my favorite after work rituals is a hot bath, a habit that lends relaxation and therapeutic benefits to the body year-round. In ancient times, herbal baths were employed to help the sick, while mineral baths were used for detoxification. Some cultures even believed that bathing offered good luck and protection.
It is unlikely that a doctor today would tell a patient to take a bath for protection, but most physicians do recognize that a hot bath can help you relax and reduce stress, which we know is important in disease prevention. The act of bathing stimulates blood circulation and calms the nervous system. It can also help relieve common aches and pains associated with arthritis, menstrual cramps, inflammation, hemorrhoids, muscle pains and spasms. If you have a difficult time sleeping, try taking a bath right before bedtime.
In our fast-paced world, it is sometimes easy to forget to take care of ourselves, and a simple bath can remind us to relax and be mindful each day. There are many different types of hydrotherapy which can be therapeutic and detoxifying, such as hot springs, whirlpools and mineral baths. However, a home bathtub offers the same therapeutic benefits and might be a little easier to get to. Take advantage of this little therapeutic sanctuary in your home. Don’t forget to light some candles to help create a calm environment.
- Add baking soda to bath water if you have dry, itchy skin in the winter months.
- Add Epsom salt for inflammation, sore muscles, arthritis or hemorrhoid pain. It is also good for detoxification. I love using this after a good workout.
- Add oatmeal for skin rashes, poison oak and poison ivy.
- Aromatherapy (essential oils) is a great way to calm the mind and adds to the therapeutic benefit of a bath. Add 15 drops of eucalyptus to help with a common cold or sinus problems. There are also some great essential oil blends that can be added to bathwater to help your individual needs.
- Bath salts added to bathwater help promote healing for almost any skin condition.
- Herbal baths can be a great way to soothe tension and help promote healthy circulation. There are many great herbal bath blends that you can buy online or at your local health food store. Rosemary and milk thistle make a great herbal detox bath while Roman chamomile and lavender are perfect for relaxation. Pour herbs in a little pouch and soak in bathwater for 30 minutes to feel the stress melt away.
- Take a mud bath for detoxification. This might not be as relaxing as an herbal or salt bath, but it is a great way for the body to get rid of toxins. You can buy red clay or mud bath mix at your local health food store. Lather up in the mud or red clay and soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Dead Sea salt is another great product to add to bath water for detoxification and relaxation.
There are some great companies who specialize in mixing organic sea salts with other minerals and vitamins for therapeutic purposes. Do a little research and find a mixture that is right for you. Happy bathing and remember to breathe deeply!
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2007). Rheumatoid arthritis and complementary and alternative medicine.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2007). In brief: your guide to healthy sleep.