Herbal Baths and Soaks
Mmmm…sometimes there is nothing better than being fully submerged in just-not-too-hot water. After spending hours outside - shoveling, playing with the kids, walking the dogs – sometimes the best solution to beat the cold winds is simply to take a bath or soak your feet in hot water to break the chill. Create a quiet space for yourself: turn down the lights, play some music, maybe read the next chapter, or simply shut your mind off for a moment. Get to your space where only you exist and all you have to do is be still.
Hot water baths and soaks are great for defrosting your body; they increase circulation and give warmth back to your blood. What would you say if I told you that I could make your hot water even better? By adding some simple ingredients into the water, we can move the body in ways people never thought possible! Basically, you will be making an herbal tea for your body to soak up. Herbal baths are not commonly thought of for therapeutic uses, they are often aromatherapy based or for relaxation, but they can be quite powerful if you use the right herbs!
What you want to do is use about ¼ cup dried herbs to 4-6 cups hot water. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove, add your herbs and turn off the heat, then let your tea steep for 10-15 minutes. Once the time has passed, strain your pot of water into your bath water using a sieve or cheesecloth (depending on how fine the herbs are).
If preferred, you may skip the straining and pour the water AND herbs into the tub, so you may swim around with the herbs and get to know them better. Yes, the tub will be a mess, yes you will have to clean the herbs out of your tub and drain, and yes, it will be amazing (this is only recommended if you are using large herbs such as slices of ginger). If you only wish to soak a portion of your body, such as hands or feet, find a washtub or bucket that will fit the appendage and use the methods mentioned previously.
But how do I know what herbs to put in my bath? What blend of herbs will help my different ailments? I am glad you asked! We have asked our practicing herbalist, Mo Horner, for some easy recipes to use at home:
- Circulatory/Nerve bath – Beneficial for increased circulation and nerve pain/damage. Yarrow, Witch Hazel (dried or liquid extract), Horse Chestnut, and Ginger. You may also consider adding Rosemary and Saint John’s Wort.
- Lymphatic – Beneficial for immune health, increased lymphatic movement, and people that experience frequent sickness. Echinacea (root, leaf, andflower) and Cleavers.
- Seasonal Allergies – Beneficial for seasonal allergy relief. Eyebright, Elder flower, Stinging Nettle Leaf, Goldenrod, Yerba Santa, Spearmint, and Ragweed.
Mo has many tricks up her sleeve, she also mentioned blends for stress relief, skin health, women’s health, and digestion. These are just the beginning, you can have an herbal soak for just about anything!
Luckily, Prairie Star has some good sources to find all of these dried herbs that you are now needing. Locally sourced herbs are always the best because they are grown in the specific conditions that you are exposed to as well (i.e. if you live in Nebraska, try to source from Nebraska). Here are some trusted sources:
- Spiritus Vitae – 129 S. 27th Lincoln, NE 68510
- Curious Roots – Louisville, NE
- Red Road Herbs – 57190 835th Stanton, NE 68779
- Also check out Mountain Rose Herbs, Pacific Botanicals, Natural Grocers, Wholefoods, Co-Op grocery stores, No Name Nutrition, and spice shops (you would be surprised at the health benefits that come from culinary spices).
Next time you go to take a bath, think about how you can make it more specific to you! Whether it is utilizing Lavender for stress relief, Ginger for that extra spice and warmth, or Elder Flower for those pesky allergies. Important notes about herbal soaks: “Bathing in herbs is the safest method for those who are concerned about the way herbs might work with their medications. Always use common sense when it comes to bathing in very hot water when there are conditions like low or high blood pressure.” Herbal soaks…they are like teas, but for your body!**
**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice.
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