The most popular way that people consume herbs is in a tea bag. This is because most of these come prepared and ready to use and do not cost much. This is an effective and simple method of using herbs to heal and refresh the body. But I would like to see folks using herbs in more imaginative and expansive ways. One of the best ways to use herbs, for the health of both the inside and outside of your body, is in the bath. This method treats the skin, hair and nails but also is absorbed through the pores of the skin to help the healing process on the inside, as well. You should consider the medicinal qualities of any herb you use, whether you drink it in a tea or use it in the suds. Your body will be affected either way and sometimes to surprising effect.
Herbs are powerful and potent plants that should be used with consideration and care; although they can do some kinds of damage if used incorrectly, the side effects are usually mild and, unlike medicines made in the lab, any damage that is done is usually reversible. It is impossible to overdose on a bath bag or a herbal water used in the tub. And long term effects require consistent exposure, so consider this in all cases. If you are looking for intense, long term healing effects, you should use your potion every day if possible. Otherwise, use herbs sparingly. An occasional dunk in the bath will refresh and revitalize your body and mind and is not likely to cause any real change in the system. But those of you who are really ailing, consider using herbs in a bath on a regular basis to help ease the suffering and expedite healing of the body. Here are some of my favorite bath recipes and a note on each herb used and what effects you can expect it to have.
My first group of recipes will be for various bath bags that you can use. The method for making each bag is the same but the ingredients will vary and so will the conditions they treat or create. Study the method and get the items you need before choosing the herbs you will use in each. Some days, you will be tired and depressed and certain combos will help that but you wouldn’t want to use mood lifters on a day when you were already giggly and filled with exuberance. Other days the pain will have you in it’s grip and certain herbs will help with that but you should not use the same combination when you are relaxed and sleepy. A little practice will make you good at this; I ended up making so many I had boxes full of the little bags, all tied up and marked for what they did so I could pick and choose every day. I really like the bath bags because they can be made in advance, fixed with ties or strings and hung from the faucet while I loll in the hot water. Yum. Try them and see if you love them, too.
Method for making the Bath Bags
Depending upon your personal preference, you can make your bath bag from just about any material. It should be porous, however and not real thick. Unbleached Muslin, Nylon from used or left over pantyhose, Netting (tightly woven) or Cheesecloth are all ideal fabrics.
The method for making Bath Bags is always the same, it is only the Herbs that change in usage for their specific properties.
Cut out a square from the Nylon or the Muslin. It can be either 6″ x 6″ or 8″ x 8″ depending on how big of a bag you would like.
Lay out the square and load it with the Herbs. Wrap it up into a ball and tie the upper ends together with the string or ribbon. Use the string or ribbon to dangle the ball from the faucet.
Bath Bag #1: The Cleansing Bag
Make this up when you need to get really clean, either physically or spiritually. These herbs are known for “washing” the layers away, both off of the skin and off of a broken heart. This bath bag will rejuvenate and awaken, clean and refresh. Don’t use it if you’re getting ready for bed.
3 parts Dandelion Leaves
3 parts Stinging Nettles
2 parts Black Current Leaves
2 parts Scented Geranium Leaves
Nylon Pantyhose or Unbleached Muslin
String or Ribbon
Bath Bag #2: Relaxing Bath Bag
This is used exactly for the purpose in the name. This combination will relax the body and the mind; it will ease muscle stress and strain and bring the mind to a calm place. Don’t use it in a bath where there is a danger of drowning if you fall asleep and do not use it if you think you’re going shopping or driving around afterwards. This is good before a glass of wine and soft music. Use it to unwind.
3 parts Chamomile
2 parts Meadowsweet
2 parts Lime Flowers
1 part Valerian Root
Bath Bag #3: Invigorating Bath Bag
Again, this bag will do exactly what it claims to. This is a great bag to use when you’re just getting up and have to be at work in a while. It is also good with a cup of coffee and some dance music. It’s great before and after the exercise routine, before you go for a walk or a game of tennis. It will get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. Do not use it if you think you’re going to bed.
3 parts Marigold
3 parts Pennyroyal
2 parts grated Lovage Root
1 part Pine Needles
Bath Bag #4: Lemon Scented Bath Bag
This bag is great as an every day bath. It makes you smell great, gives your skin that squeaky clean finish and brings harmony to your mood. It won’t help if you’re cranky or sad, it will only level that off. But it’s a safe, everyday bath for those days when you want to get clean and just feel good. It will leave you with a clean, fresh scent.
3 parts Lemon Verbena or Lemon Balm
2 parts Rosemary
2 parts Fennel (fresh leaves or bruised seeds)
Twist of Lemon Peel
Bath Bag #5: Lavender Bath Bag
This is a lovely, feminine bath bag that will leave you with a perfume scent. Use it if you’re not using other perfumes and want to smell sweet and flowery. The bran in the bag will make your skin very soft and the Chamomile is really relaxing. Combined with Rosemary, which is rich and piney, this bag will make you feel balanced. I recommend it for women, as Lavender influences the hormones and is positive with women. Men should use it very lightly and young boys should not use it at all. Lavender has been known to stimulate female hormones in men and breast development in young boys has been seen. This is a very sweet, rich “perfumey” bag so I do not see men clamoring to use it. It is lovely for girls.
6 tbsp Bran
1 tbsp Lavender Flowers
1 tbsp Chamomile Flowers
1 tbsp Rosemary Tips
Bath Bag #6: Aromatherapy Bag
This is a richly scented, invigorating bag that will open your senses. It is a mixture of sweet softness and spicy excitement. It is a balancing bag that will allow your moods to find their center and your body to settle and relax. But it is not a sleepy bag. You won’t be nodding in the bath and, in fact, this will invigorate you and refresh you. It’s a great bag for a mid day bath, after work, before the grocery store. If you work two jobs, use it in between to head on to the second job with a smile. This bag won’t make your blood rush or your heart pound but it will make you feel “new”. Ready to go. It can also be used if you are going to relax, especially if your muscles are really tense or sore or your nerves are taut or jumpy. It won’t put you to sleep but it’s nice for making you feel natural in your body and good enough to face whatever you must. This is not an everyday bag and should be used with care by men. Lavender and Rose are feminine flowers that draw out female hormones so men should use this lightly. Young boys should not use this bag at all. Women and girls can use it as often as 3 times a week.
2 parts fresh Rosemary
2 parts Lavender Flowers
2 parts fresh Peppermint Leaves
3 parts fresh Rose Petals
1 part Scented Geranium Petals
As well as bath bags, there are other ways to use herbs in the bath that are fun and pleasurable. One of the most common methods is to put together a “bath mix” of water and herbs and then add it to the bath. Herbal bath waters are an ancient tradition, having had their largest popularity during the Roman empire. They are still frequently used in spas and thermal baths. Make up a few and try them out. Remember that, just as with bath bags, each herb has it’s special qualities and these waters should be restricted to the proper usage. Pay attention to their properties and use them when they are needed. In time, you will have a few favorites that you can feel free to use at any time.
Lemon Grass and Clove Bath Water
This is a richly scented, invigorating bath water that will tone the body and make you smell absolutely delicious. Try not to get this water in the hair as the oils in the water will scent your hair for WEEKS.. often even after being washed time and again. It’s best to wear a shower cap or put your hair in a towel. This bath will make you feel zippy, fresh and alive. It will make your skin feel like silk.
2 tbsp Almond Oil
2 drops Lemon Grass Oil
2 drops Coriander Oil
2 drops Clove Oil
Small Glass Dish or Bowl
Carefully measure the Almond Oil into the small Glass Dish.
Slowly drop in each of the essential oils, stirring in as you go. Mix all the ingredients well together and pour directly into a bath while the water is still running. Rinse the dish under the running tap to make sure all of the oils have gone into the bath water. Take a long, relaxing bath.
This is a perfume bath. It is just like bathing in perfume and will leave you smelling expensive. Use it only if you’re not using other colognes. This water has a drying effect and is especially useful on oily skin. Young girls with skin problems will benefit from this bath. This is a bath rich in Lavender and Rose so it should only be used by women. Lavender causes a rise in female hormones and can cause breast development in young boys. Rose is a feminine smell that is not appropriate for males. This bath water is best used by young girls with skin problems or adult women with comedogenic skin problems like boils, cysts and body acne.
1/2 cup fresh Lavender Flowers
1/2 cup of fresh Rose Petals
1/4 cup Ethyl Alcohol at room temperature
Glass Canning Jar with screw top lid
Decorative Dark Glass Bottle with stopper
Steep all the ingredients together in the Glass Jar, shaking vigorously every day for 6 days.
After 6 days, strain the liquid and bottle it in the dark glass bottle and stopper.
Lavender and Marjoram Bath
As with most bath waters, this is another one that should only be used by women. This is a strongly scented bath water that is fantastic for dry skin. Women with dry, flaky, red or thickening skin will love this bath. It leaves you slick and silky and your skin benefits enormously. This is like sitting a bath full of moisturizing cream for a half an hour. It’s that good. Women with oily skin or acne should not use this bath. It is rich and creamy and leaves the skin feeling like satin.
2 tbsp Almond Oil
7 drops Lavender Oil
3 drops of Marjoram Oil
Small Glass Bowl
Measure out all the ingredients into the small Glass Bowl. Mix all the ingredients together and pour them directly into a hot bath while the water is running. Rinse out the bowl under the hot running water to be sure to disperse all of the oil. Have a long, soothing soak.
This is the consummate bath bag for people with oily skin. This bath is great for both men and women and is one of the bath waters that won’t leave you smelling like perfume. If you rinse well and dry off afterwards, it won’t leave you smelling like a salad, either. But Vinegar does have a strongly acidic odor and some people just won’t like it. Still, if you have oily or greasy skin, acne, boils and other skin eruptions, this bath water will help you fix that. You can use this every day for a very long time before you have to worry about the acid base balance in the body. Interchange it with regular showers and good, soapy baths and this won’t be a problem.
2 1/2 cups of Cider Vinegar
Large handful of freshly picked aromatic Herbs (your choice)
Non aluminum Saucepan
Glass Bottle or Jar with Stopper or Lid
Strainer and Coffee Filter
Heat the Vinegar and Herbs together in the non aluminum Saucepan. Bring to a simmering point on the stove but DO NOT BOIL. Heat just until the Vinegar begins to steam and the first bubbles begin to rise from the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly and remove from heat. Leave overnight.
Strain the liquid through the Coffee Filter and then bottle. Use a cupful in each bath or a few spoonfuls in a sink full of fresh cool water.
Rosemary Bath Oil
This is one of the bath waters that I recommend for men to use. Women can use it if they don’t mind smelling “piney” or “woodsy” afterwards. This leaves men smelling like a great aftershave and it’s astringent for their skin. It helps with general skin problems and ingrown hairs. The oils will help nurture the skin and help balance the dry to oily ratio. Turkey Red Oil completely disperses in the water so it does not soften the skin or leave it greasy. This bath water is good to use after sun exposure, it will help keep a tan fresh. However, do not use it every day. Not unless you want a strange looking tan that will be hard to wash away. This is a once a month bath water or a bath water to use after a day at the beach. This bath water also has anti fungal properties and a bath with this mix will support treatments for jock itch or athletes foot. It will leave men feeling refreshed, clean and great smelling.
4 parts Turkey Red Oil
1 part Essential Oil of Rosemary
Small Glass Bottle with stopper
Mix Oils together in the Glass Bottle and shake well before every use. Use a drop at a time in hot bath water and bathe in it.
Elderflower Milk Bath
This is an age old bath, the bath made with milk. It is really safe for kids and young people of both sexes. It makes the skin soft and creamy and leaves the body with a neutral scent. The milk properties of protein and fat are good for young skin and supports elasticity and collagen growth. This is also a very cooling bath and will bring down the body temperature in children with fevers. As well, it is helpful in soothing inflammation and irritation and can be used on the worst skin problems without causing more grief. This bath water is also useful in soothing fever blisters and boils. If the child is bitten by ants, make this up and set them down in it. Relief with come swiftly.
1 cup Milk
4 oz fresh or 2 oz dried Elderflowers
1 cup Boiling Water
Glass Bowl & Strainer
Put the Elderflowers in the Glass Bowl and pour over with the Boiling Water. Leave to infuse for up to 4 hours. Stain through the strainer and remove all of the flowers. Add back to the Glass Bowl and mix in the cold Milk. Pour the entire bowl of Milk into the bath.
Healing Bath Water
Last but not least, this is my favorite blend. It is a bath water that helps with sore muscles, aching feet and tired backs. Comfrey is a miracle when it comes to aching and creaking bones and body parts. I have a foot soak bag made with Comfrey that people beg me for. I will post that recipe on a the blog in the future. The Mint in this mix is also very soothing and cooling. This is the perfect bath water after a night of waiting on tables or a day long shopping expedition. It is also recommended for athletes or would be athletes, especially after a day of tennis after a year of sitting on the butt. This bath water is truly healing and should be enjoyed anytime you have aches and pains.
4 parts Comfrey Root
3 parts Mint
1 part Bruised Houseleek Leaves
Fill the saucepan with water and add in the Comfrey Root. Heat to boiling on the stove, cover and allow to boil for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Place the Mint and Houseleek Leaves in the Glass Bowl. After 30 minutes or more, strain out the boiling liquid over the Mint and Houseleek leaves and cover the bowl. Leave to infuse for at least another 30 minutes.
Strain and pour directly into the bathwater.