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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Baths that Heal

Baths that Heal

Who doesn’t covet a serious soak in an ample tub of light, silky bubbles and sweet, scented oils? After a tough day on your feet, or hunched over a desk, battling the boss or fighting gritty fumes from city traffic, chauffeuring kids or drowning in household chores and sweaty yard work (or for many of us, all of the above), a sublime soak can do wonders for the soul. But what if, in addition to relieving sore muscles and restoring a spent mind, a bath could also address deeper issues like arthritis and other diseases of inflammation, psoriasis, cold and flu, fertility, cellulite, and more, just by infusing it with key ingredients?

Herbal baths and wraps have been around for thousands of years in about as many world venues, and are still used prolifically today at spas and resorts where travelers often spend mega-money to reap their benefits. Promoted by everyone from alternative health practitioners to aestheticians to Western health care professionals themselves, the medicinal and/or therapeutic properties of ingredients like turmeric, seaweed, ginger, milk, nettles, rosemary, thyme — even beer — can promote balance, healing, and overall good health, and can be added to warm or hot bathwater at home for mere pennies in comparison.

The following ingredients added to your bath may promote healing and better health in general, though always be sure to check with your physician first if medical issues are present:

Turmeric: Known for its antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric reportedly mitigates arthritis by soothing joints. Add half-a-cup to a warm bath. (Note: turmeric can stain, so be sure to have a good cleaning agent in ready supply to use afterwards.)

Seaweed: Mineral-rich seaweed is celebrated for its purifying qualities and ability to reduce the appearance of cellulite. It also stimulates the adrenal glands, according to some. Fill a muslin bag or old stocking with 3-4 ounces of a mixture of dried kelp and dulse, available online (from companies like Maine Coast Sea Vegetables–www.seaveg.com – are a good source). First boil water in a large pot and add bag of seaweed. Let steep for an hour and add water and bag to bath. Some refer to these baths as iodine baths, as seaweed is high in it. (Note: may affect high blood pressure.)

Ginger: The ginger bath is said to promote healing by ridding the body of toxins connected with colds and flu. Add half a cup of fresh, grated ginger or a rounded teaspoon of powdered ginger to a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes. Practitioners say you will sweat profusely, even after the bath is over, which is the method the body uses to eliminate toxins that caused the illness. Be sure to drink plenty of water to replenish. Added benefit: ginger also reportedly increases circulation to the reproductive system.

Beer: Identified by the Germans and cited for hops’ strong medicinal properties, beer baths are said to aid in the dissolution of psoriasis and other skin conditions. Add two cups to a warm bath.

Nettles: Known for centuries to influence the lungs, kidneys, skin, and blood, specifically to relieve mucus congestion, stop bleeding, address acne and eczema, increase milk flow for nursing mothers, reduce water retention, and even add shine to hair, nettles (aka stinging nettles) were used by medical doctors well into the early 20th Century. Combine equal parts dried nettles, rosemary, lemon balm, comfrey, lavender, and mint in a muslin bag and float in warm bath.

Milk: The lactic acid in milk (a known alpha hydroxy acid) added to the bath is said to dissolve the proteins which bind dead skin cells. Combined with flowers like lavender, essential oils, and other ingredients like honey, historical beauties who espoused its cosmetic benefits include Cleopatra and Elizabeth I.

9 comments

1 melodie { 10.23.13 at 2:52 pm }

Do you use the ground ginger found in the spice isle of the grocery store?

2 Olga { 02.06.13 at 4:52 pm }

I use a cup of epsom salts, a cup of baking soda and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. There is no greater relaxation, not to mention the cleansing of the sking, and a good sleep after!

3 loba2015 { 09.10.12 at 4:45 pm }

To ALKALIZE the body: Pour one cup of hydrogen peroxide into the bath water. It is also like the ginger that it sucks out the toxins but closes the pores as well. Very awesome to use when your husband/boyfriend comes home smelling like booze from an all nighter. It also electrifies your neurons for a positive feeling. Just like Edgar Cayce said it helps in alkalizing the body. Try it out. Oh, you can combine it with Epsom salts and oils too it keeps the oils on your skin not inside your pores. It makes the bath tub cleaner btw. Hope this helps most of you all…

4 Amboni46 { 08.24.12 at 1:50 pm }

I have used ginger baths for years. When I get a cold, and that is not too often, I will get into a hot as tolerated tub with four heaping tablespoons of ginger. Soak for at least 20 minutes while sipping on something hot. You need the heat inside as well as outside. This opens the pores and allows excretion of the toxins ravaging your body. Now, get out, damp dry yourself and then wrap up in a cozy housecoat. Jump into bed a drift off. You will sweat out all of the bad stuff and feel better in the morning. If you have a very bad cold it may take 2-3 of these treatments to get yourself back to normal.

5 Sharlice Humphrey { 08.12.12 at 1:06 pm }

After a bath try rubbing down the body vigorously with rubbing salts then having someone give you a swedish massage this is good for circulation of the body and blood and for the mind and soul and for skin got this from my mother in law when I almost died 10 years ago and she saved my life she got it from Jethro Kloss’s book back to eden

6 USAclimatereporter { 08.09.12 at 6:27 pm }

i do not take a bath because the stuff and sweat that comes off of me goes into the tub and i am washing myself with it and then i never really feel clean but this is a good tip

7 Sherry Smith { 08.02.12 at 3:49 pm }

Oatmeal should be included also. tie it in a cheesecloth bag and put into the water while it is running and then soak in its silkiness and it calms itching too.

8 Brenda { 08.01.12 at 10:23 am }

You could add Epsom salts to the list – it is not only good for sprains & inflammation, but Christiane Northrup, the doctor who addresses menopausal issues for women, recommends bathing in it to absorb needed minerals that alleviate menopausal symptoms, particularly magnesium. The above recommendations sound heavenly & Ginger is good for knocking out a virus before it gets a good hold – right after being chilled is a great time to use it internally & in a bath.

9 Karen Heaton { 08.01.12 at 10:19 am }

I remember my mom putting anybody in the house who had any type of skin ailment or upset stomach in a bath with a box of baking soda. Yes, it does relieve iching, especially if you have hives, which I did frequently. It also seemed to settle upset tummies (not too upset that is). But most of all what I remember and my daughter who also received the treatment always mentioned is your skin seemed to feel so much better when you got out; if you were feeling poorly, it just seemed like the sheets, pj’s and anything that touched your body felt so much more silky and relaxed. Still endorse for those things that ail you.

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