Herbal Baths and steams can be done for a number of purposes. Depending on what it is that your trying to do, baths in general can be relaxing and help relieve stress, but before I start talking about baths in general I just want to touch base on my favorite herb mixtures to use in herbal baths and the ones that I have found most useful!
After a long day of taking care of a fussy baby and doing house chores, usually at the end of the day all I want to do is sit down, relax and unwind. For some people that’s a glass of wine, or a T.V. show. And although those things have helped me before, my favorite way to unwind is by taking a hot steaming bath! A lot of people use Epsom salts in their bath to help alleviate pain in joints and muscles. I find Epsom salts are a wonderful addition to herbs during bath time, especially if I have had a long day of yard work! If your looking to take a bath simply just for the relaxing effects I might add that there are a number of herbs that I like to use in combination to Epsom Salts. My go to chosen herbs to start with:
Lavender– a very fragrant herb that is well known for its aroma to help relax and ease anxiety.
Hops– Yes, the same flower that is used to make beer. Hops flowers are used in a number of teas to help ease anxiety and tension as well as work as having a slightly “sleepy” effect.
Chamomile– a very well known herb that is commonly added to “sleepy-time” teas and teas to help alleviate anxiety and stress.
So, as you can see. All of the herbs above used in combination work as a strong relaxant while bathing. In the past I have used this blend with added Catnip to help calm and soothe my 11 month old son who was experiencing extreme colic. Catnip is a well known herb as well. Although most people know it as a “fun” herb for their felines, herbalists use catnip as a nervine in teas to help relieve stress and help soothe mild pain.
I have used Catnip to help my son with Colic and teething and have found it very effective in helping him calm down. (I will have a future post about colic and teething.)
Making Herbal baths are really simple. All you need is the herbs of your choice and a muslin bag! Muslin bags can be found on amazon or in health food stores commonly. If you cannot find a muslin bag, you can also use a cheesecloth. Just wrap the herbs inside and tie the top tightly like a little bag.
Herbal baths can be done one of two ways. You can either hang the bag of herbs right under the faucet in the bathtub and let the water run as hot as it gets until you have about an inch of water in the bathtub and then turn your water to a cooler setting to adjust the temperature or; you can simply boil a pot of water on the stove, steep your herbs in the pot until in makes a very large and strong “tea” and then dump it into your bathtub! I find both ways effective, but its usually quicker just to add the muslin bag to the faucet in the tub.
You can also add a couple of drops of essential oils for more fragrance. In this instance I would use lavender oil or a light chamomile. (Be careful with oils like eucalyptus or peppermint as they can be VERY strong. (take my word for it).
Generally a steam is used for medicinal purpose such as helping to relieve some congestion. In the past we have found most steams to be effective, but I wouldn’t suggest doing it with the little ones as caution of the hot water should be monitored. To create an herbal steam, all you must do is boil a large pot of water on the stove. After the water has come to a boil, remove the pot, add in your herbs or essential oil of choice and kneel over the top with a towel. Stay under the towel as long as you can stand and occasionally come up for air when needed.
If your looking for a good recipe for congestion relief, I would suggest using herbs of rosemary or thyme and adding a drop or two of eucalyptus oil or leaves. I would use this steam for about 5-10 minutes or until the sinuses open up. Be sure that you keep your eyes closed while your doing this as the oils and heat can be irritating to the eyes. Be sure not to use this method on children under four as it can be dangerous due to the hot water.