Monday, January 15, 2007

History of the Bath-Aromatic Bath Ideas

Ahhh baths. I could end this post here and be content. I love baths. I take a bath every night, as it is my reward for getting through the day. I look forward to baths like most people look forward to a hot fudge sundae after dinner. Of course, I am not talking about "fill the tub with water and get in" bath. I am talking about "creating an aromatic aromatherapy healing bath." Now doesn't that sound appealing? I love to just take a nice long soak, and I also like to take a nice long read. You can often find some of my books and magazines a little bit water logged.

Baths have deep roots in ancient history. Ancient aromatic baths were as much a part of the culture as eating. Common areas were often filled with large public baths. Royalty and those more affluent had huge area's of their homes dedicated to large baths. Precious essential oils, herbs, and milks were reserved for bathing and anointing the body. Fresh rose petals and other flowers were floated in the waters. It was an experience, not just a means of cleaning the body. It was symbolic of cleansing the spirit as well. The design of this aromatic bath was a renewal of sorts. To clean the entire soul. Because essential oil molecules are some of the tiniest to be found, and are so easily picked up by the olfactory system and carried to the emotion center of the brain (hypothalamus), the oils played a key role in this experience. They were primarily used for the skin, but mostly for the brain and spiritual senses. The herbs were chosen for their therapeutic effects on the body as well as overall cleansing powers.

Because the skin is the body's largest organ, a bath is a perfect way to nurture it all at once. It is believed that 60% of everything we put on our body is absorbed into the layers of skin, blood stream and organs. Everyday pollutants settle on our skin as well as anything synthetic we put on it.
Here are some ideas on creating your own healthy bath:

Salt- All salts are not created equal. Table salt is of no value to the skin as everything healthy has been stripped from it. The optimum salt for bathing is sea salt, preferable dead sea salt. I also love red Hawaiian sea salt, organic grey sea salt, and Himalayan pink. I keep a large pail of mixed salts by the bath. Every time we bathe we put a scoop in. If you have less than optimal public water, this helps counteract some of the grunge that is in our local water supplies.

As part of my business I used to sell bath salts. I still may again, but they are so easy to make I prefer to teach others. I like to put them in a canning jar and pour them in the bath. Making your own bath salts is a s simple as finding an EO that you love or making your own blend which I will blog about another time. You basically add your EO's to the salt and shake well. I like to grind up botanicals and herbs such as lavender, chamomile, plantain, red clover, etc.. and add to them. Not only do the botanicals make the salt look attractive, they have therapeutic benefits. I love this salt company: Click here: Sea Salt for Making Bath Salts
You can also get cool glass jars at Cost Plus and specialty stores.
Sea salt can be found locally at Herbally Grounded or at any Trader Joe's.

Essential Oils in the Bath
I love to sprinkle a few drops of EO's in my bath. There are some that should be diluted in a carrier oil first and then swished well in the water. These would include any of the citrus family. One of my favorite oils that I use once a month, that is known for it's hormonal effects is Clary Sage. It is my PMS oil. It calms me, smooths out the frayed edges of my soul and just puts me at ease. When pregnant with my twins, my Midwife would rub this on my belly, so it has a powerful memory attached to it. Many women seem to not like the smell, but I challenge them to smell it during their "moon time" of the month, and see if it speaks to them then. I don't add my EO's to my bath until I get in. Because they are volatile and disperse quickly into the air, I like to be right there to enjoy them. I sprinkle a few drops on the surface of the water and swish gently. You can also add them to a carrier oil, milk, or salts.

Here are some of my favorites:

-Rose EO is a special treat, as well as Jasmine for sleep.
-Rosemary lightens my mind and makes me more aware. I like to add that EO if I don't want to be sleepy to stay up and read, etc...
-Eucalyptus and Lemon is a favorite if I am feeling physically or emotionally congested.
-Bergamot is a lifesaver, and can ease sadness and the blues.

Botanicals and Herbs
As mentioned above, these are great to add to the salts. You can also us them alone. I don't like to have a messy botanical bath to clean up, so I add them to a muslin bag. I add the bag to the water, let it soak a bit and then squeeze it gently to release the benefits of whatever I put inside. I also like to add powdered goat's milk, coconut milk, whole milk and buttermilk as well. Cleopatra was known for her milk bath's and I certainly know why! Her recipe was simple- a few couples of whole milk added to the bath. You can also add whole oats to aid the skin and don't forget honey too!
I like to grind my herbs and botanicals up a little first. This releases the scent as well as the oils in the plant itself. You can make up a big batch, keep it in a jar or ziploc (I prefer glass over plastic). You can wash out and reuse your muslin bags and fill as needed. You can also add to sealable tea bags found at Herbally Grounded or craft stores. This way, you can just throw one in each time and throw it away when done.

I love taking out this time for myself. The house is quiet, everyone is asleep, and it feels like such a luxury. I get out feeling so rested and renewed. I encourage everyone to make their bath not just a task, but an experience. It need not be expensive, and you can keep it as simple as you want. It truly is worth the effort. You can begin simple, by just picking a rose in full bloom and scattering the petals in your bath.

Book Recommendation: The Healing Aromatherapy Bath by Margo Valentine Lazzara

This book has beautiful meditations and ideas