How to Make and Use Bathing Herbs
Why Use a Bath Tea?
It is now Winter in Northeastern Ohio and my normally hectic life becomes even more demanding on my body with the added cold temperatures.
The pressure and stress built into our daily lives often give us little time to relax and unwind.
So, rather than rushing through another quick shower, take 20 minutes out of your day to soak in a warm bath.
You will be amazed at how much you can benefit from such a simple thing as a soak in the tub.
As your tense body slips into the tub, the sensuous water actually warms your body and relaxes the muscles.
Your body feels lighter.
The experience not only soothes physically but also mentally and provides a chance to take a real break and enjoy some much needed quiet time.
While some people like glittery bath bombs or fragranced oils, when I need to unwind and de-stress I prefer soaking my skin in natural ingredients.
The addition of botanicals and herbs to your bath is a simple pleasure that can be transformative.
Whether you call them bath teas, tub teas, or bathing herbs, botanicals have been used in baths for thousands of years to relieve aches and pains, to fight colds, boost circulation, or energize or relax your mind and body.
Soaking in a warm fragrant herbal bath provides a quiet sanctuary in which to retreat, reflect and refresh.
The healing properties trapped in the herbs and released by the water can help boost your mood, calm the mind, soothe sore muscles and joints, opens pores, soften skin, and promote more restful sleep.
As the beneficial properties of the herbs are released into the water, a pleasant aroma fills the air which provides soul therapy, skin therapy, and aromatherapy all in one.
So, draw a warm bath infused with fragrant or therapeutic herbs, light a few natural candles, play soothing music and relax. It may just be the perfect medicine for whatever ails you.
Which Herbs To Use
While Bath Teas are easy to make, we know that many of our customers have very busy lives so we have included a few Bath Teas in our product line.
Our bath teas are a unique blend of organic botanicals that enhance the natural healing and soothing effects of a warm bath. As with many of our products, I made the blends based on the herbs and additives that I enjoy the most.
You can choose a variety of botanicals to customize your herbal bath experience depending on your specific needs or preferences. Some herbs provide a lovely aroma while others have medicinal value as well. I have created many lovely herbal baths simply from the herbs in my kitchen.
You can collect flowers and herbs from your garden or purchase organic herbs from your local farmers' markets. You can use them fresh or dry them for later use.
It does not have to be complicated. One of my favorite blends is a simple mixture of organic dried lavender buds and rose petals that I collected and dried from my summer garden.
For information on how to dry fresh herbs read our blog, "Herbal Basics: Fresh Vs Dried Herbs."
You can also purchase dried herbs. Be sure to choose organic, no need to have pesticides or other nasty additives in your tub. It is best to use dried herbs within two to four years. If they lose their fragrance it’s a sign that it is time to replace them.
Read our blog "Herbal Basics: Choosing Quality Herbs."
Herbal baths are also great for kids. The first baths my newborn grandchildren received were with our "Baby Me! Bath Tea."
Your baby may not need to be bathed with soap every day. Some days a simple relaxing bath is all that is needed to keep a baby clean. Gentle organic bath herbs can help soothe the skin and relax fussy babies and toddlers.
The following list gives an overview of some common bathing herbs. While it is by no means exhaustive it is a starting point to help you choose the best botanicals for you.
Basil, Ocimum basilicum, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help with a wide range of skin problems including acne. Basil is a great herb for a stimulating bath. The pleasant aroma will wake up your senses and leave you feeling refreshed.
Calendula, Calendula officinalis, known for its calming, anti-inflammatory, and skin healing properties helps decrease skin irritation, rashes, and inflammation of sensitive skin. Calendula nourishes and softens skin and is a great botanical for children's baths when they have irritated skin, insect bites or diaper rash.
Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, with its emollient, healing, and anti-inflammatory properties, has a soothing and calming effect on irritated skin. Chamomile provides relief from insect bites, calms nerves, soothes skin and muscles, and promotes healthy, restful sleep. Chamomile is another great bath herb for children. Chamomile relaxes the nervous system making a great bath for nighttime.
Chickweed, Stellaria media, useful in treating inflammatory skin conditions, brings relief from chronic itching caused by eczema, psoriasis and other rashes.
Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, root helps the body dispose of unwanted skin bacteria. A rich source of vitamins and trace elements, the root helps promote clear skin and treat skin disorders such as eczema and acne.
Elder Flowers, Sambucus nigra, is the oldest herb cultivated by man. They are mildly astringent and help soothe dry mature skin. Elderflower tea was used to fade freckles, age spots, and skin blemishes. Elderflowers have been used for thousands of years to treat skin inflammation.
Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus, acts as an antiseptic, antiviral, bactericidal, decongestant, expectorant and insecticide. Since the leaves contain a chemical called eucalyptol, which may help loosen phlegm, it is often used to help treat cold congestion and bronchitis.
Green Tea, Camellia sinensis, is naturally rich in antioxidants that help rejuvenate skin cells to keep skin youthful. A mild astringent, green tea is used to cleanse, tone and purify the skin. It can relieve body aches, especially painful muscles, soften skin and soothe rashes and irritated skin.
Hops, Humulus lupulus, are calming herbs well known for their natural sedative effect. They help reduce nervous tension, headaches, and insomnia. They soften skin, soothe and calm inflammation and promote healing.
Juniper Berries, Juniperas communis, have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties that help balance skin oils and have a healing effect on acne and inflamed skin conditions. Steam inhalations of juniper berries is an excellent treatment for colds, coughs and excessive phlegm.
Lavender, Lavendula officinalis, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties that help calm irritated skin, increase blood circulation and promote healing. Lavender is a great calming and relaxing herb for all skin types. The word comes from the Latin verb "to wash."
Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis, a mild astringent with antibacterial properties, is great for oily and acne-prone skin. It helps tone, balance, and refresh the skin. It cleanses pores and has a soothing effect on sensitive skin. A calming herb, it helps relieve stress and induce sleep.
Marsh Mallow, Althaea officinalis, has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the skin and help calm irritated or inflamed skin conditions. Valued for its ability to soften skin, emollient marsh mallow helps skin maintain its natural moisture level.
Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris, used mostly for its calming effect to help promote relaxation and sleep. It has also been used as a topical anesthetic with antibacterial and antifungal properties. When applied to the skin it can help relieve burning, itching, and pain.
Peppermint, Mentha piperita, has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and astringent properties. It stimulates nerve endings and increases local blood flow, which may help with dry skin. Mint cools, refreshes, revitalizes, tones and clarifies skin. The aroma of mint leaves may help relieve nasal and chest congestion. The scent of a peppermint or spearmint bath is delightful and uplifting.
Plantain, Plantago major, rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), calcium and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps nourish, soothe and calm itchy, inflamed and irritated skin conditions as it draws out impurities.
Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, long known for its skin refreshing and toning properties, has been used for years for its ability to clean and soothe skin. Parsley is often used in baths to help with bruising since it soothes inflammation.
Rose Petals, Rosa spp, has healing properties that are useful in treating mild inflammation. Rose is particularly beneficial to dry, sensitive skin, it is also great for mature skin as it may help to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. The scent calms and relaxes.
Rosemary, Rosemarinus officinalis, stimulates blood circulation and is great for dull, lifeless or oily skin. The piney scent will help when you are feeling under the weather or congested. A rosemary bath helps soothe sore muscles and joints. The aches and pains seem to melt away.
Sage, Salvia officinalis, rich in antioxidant, astringent, and antibacterial qualities, soothing sage leaves are great for oily skin and for wrinkled, sagging complexions. Sage cleanses, stimulates blood circulation, closes pores and restores elasticity.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, has antiseptic and antifungal properties that cleanse, heal and soothe inflamed skin. Thyme is often used for deep cleansing. Studies have shown that thyme has antibacterial properties greater than benzoyl peroxide, which is the active ingredient in anti-acne preparations.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, flowers are used for their astringent, healing and soothing effects on the skin. It can be helpful to those suffering from inflamed skin or chronic redness.
How To Use Bathing Herbs
Any combination of herbs that speaks to you is perfect for an herbal bath. There is no set recipe for your herbal bath tea mixture.
You do not need to use oodles of herbs. You want to use enough so that you can smell the herbs and sense their presence while relaxing in your tub. When making a 'tea bag" I like to use a 5 x 7 muslin bag filled with about 1/3 cup of my bathing herbs mixture.
There are three different ways you can prepare your herbal baths, depending on your preferences.
- Throw a handful of herbs directly into the hot bathwater. While some folks like soaking in a tub filled with floating flowers, I personally don't enjoy the messy bathtub clean-up at the end. Also if you use dried herbs you will have bits of botanicals on your body and in your hair.
- For a stronger herbal bath, brew some herbal tea in a pot, and then add the steeped tea to the bathwater.
- Fill pot with water, heat to almost boiling and remove from the heat
- Put a handful of your herbal mixture into the pot
- Keeping the pot covered so the natural essential oils from the herbs don’t evaporate
- Allow the herbs to infuse for 20 minutes or longer
- Strain the liquid and add directly to your tub
- This method works best if you are using herb roots, barks, or other woody parts of a plant. It is actually called a decoction.
- Make a "tea bag" by filling a cloth, cheesecloth, muslin bag or even a clean sock with a handful of your herbal mixture. This is my favorite method!
- Tightly close the top and ...
- hang the bag from the faucet and allow hot water to run through the bag OR
- Toss the herb bundle into a tub filled and begin filling with very hot water. Then turn the water temperature down and continue filling until the bath reaches a comfortable temperature.
- Squeeze bag to release the botanical essence
- The herbal bag may be used as an “herbal washcloth,” with or without soap
- Tightly close the top and ...
No matter which method you choose . . . slip into your herbal oasis and relax for 15 to 20 minutes.
One note: An herbal bath is a time to relax the body not cleanse it -- no soap or bubble bath! If you need to wash take a shower before. To get the full benefit from an herbal soak, simply towel dry when you leave the tub.
Simple Bath Tea Recipes
Again, any combination of herbs that speaks to you is great for an herbal bath. Don't hesitate to mix and match herbs and botanicals to make combinations that you need or want.
Whether you want to create a simple relaxing soak, soothe sore muscles, relieve congestion or promote a restful sleep there are so many herbs and botanicals available -- just do some research. Below are just a few examples.
- Lavender and Rose Petals provide relaxation and fill the air with a lovely floral aroma
- Peppermint, Spearmint, and Rosemary help with mind and body fatigue
- Lavender, Chamomile, and Peppermint help soothe stress and rejuvenate the mind
- Calendula and Chamomile soothe and soften the skin as the stress melts away
- Rose Petals, Lavender, Chamomile, and Calendula create a relaxing and nourishing aromatic herbal blend
- Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Thyme cool refresh and revitalize to help with muscle fatigue and congestion
- Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Hops help bring about restful sleep
Herbal bath teas are perfect all on their own but anytime you prepare an herbal bath you can combine bathing herbs with other great skincare additives most of which can be found in your kitchen cupboards.
Read our blog "Bath Tub Tea Recipes: Simple Additions"
Give Bath Teas as Gifts
As you create herbal bath teas for personal use, consider making a few extras for gifts.
Herbal bath teas are great for friends, family, and teachers. They are a great way to say "Thank you" or express love and concern to someone special.
A Few Important Notes:
Despite the many advantages, a warm bath may not be recommended for everyone.
- Do not use very hot water
- Do not soak for more than 15-20 minutes each time
- If you have a heart condition or any medical condition, consult with your doctor before beginning a new bathing routine
- If you are pregnant, please discuss baths with your doctor or midwife
- Keep some cool drinking water nearby
- Even a healthy person may begin to feel dizzy, or not well when taking a bath. If this happens, slowly get out, rest and drink some water as you may be dehydrated. If you do not feel better soon, please seek medical advice.
Do you have a favorite herbal bath mixture?
What are some of your favorite bathing rituals?