Herbal baths are delicious and soothing and, yes, healing. They are available to anyone— even those without a tub! While you may not be able to soak your whole body, if you use a dish pan or bucket or even a large pot, you can the same benefits as a full-body bath.
What makes a bath with herbs healing? And how do you make a bath with herbs?
Any kind of bath into which you put herbs, herbal infusions, herbal vinegars, or essential oils have healing qualities from the herbs themselves.
To have a bath be more directly healing you can ask the plants and plant spirits to bring you their healing. I have a prayer I learned form one of my teachers, but you may have one that you like or that you come up with on your own. Or you can simply speak to the plants and plant spirits and tell them what you are asking for and thanking them for their help.
The act of focusing your attention and intention brings more healing directly into the bath.
Water is the substance that can extract almost anything from anything. It is a marvelous medium for carrying both the physical healing properties and the energy of the plant/s into contact with your body. This is the gift of a bath, that you only need a substance as simple and available as water.
Getting Your Bath Ready
There are a several ways to have an herbal bath. One way, of course, is to get into the tub and have a full body bath. But if you don’t have the tub or time or inclination to do this, foot baths or hand baths are just as effective.
You only need a few items to make an herbal bath, whether full-body, foot, or hand. You need:
- One or more herbs
- A tea kettle or a pot for boiling water
- A pot, heat-proof jar (a spaghetti or canning jar works well), or other container for steeping the herb/s
- A strainer
- Bathtub or basin
- Optional: essential oils, herbal tinctures, herbally infused oils, and/or herbal vinegars
Begin by making a tea for your bath. To make the tea take a couple handfuls of fresh herb/s or a handful or a few tablespoons dried herb/s. If the herbs are whole (not chopped or cut and sifted) chop them up or crumble then to make it easier for water to extract their constituents.
Bring 2 cups to 1 quart of water to a boil, pour over the herbs in jar of container, or stir the herbs into the pot of boiling, cover (it’s very important to cover the herbs while they steep so you don’t lose precious constituents), and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes, or a couple of hours if you forget or want to do your bath later.
When you are ready for your bath strain the tea or infusion into the tub or basin you will be using. You can add a few drops of essential oils if you like, but it’s not at all necessary. Get into the tub or put your feet or hands into your basin, and enjoy!
There are quicker ways to do this if you like. You could just put the herbs into the tub, but I don’t recommend it! If you put herbs directly into your tub you will clog your drain! This can be annoying and time-consuming to clean up or a costly visit from the plumber. Be aware and plan!
For a full-body bath you can put a handful of herbs into a washcloth and close it with a rubber band, or into a muslin bag that is tied shut. You can just let this float in the tub and squeeze occasionally to get out the herb juices. You can also rub it on your body to get more of the herb on/into yourself and for a mild exfoliating effect.
For a hand or foot bath, you can also put the herbs directly into the basin and run hot water over them. Crush and squeeze the herbs to get out the constituents. Then soak. Be sure to strain the herbs out when you dump the water, however, or toss into your compost heap or water your plants with it.
Taking the Bath
Ideally, you should soak at least 15 to 20 minutes to relax and get the full effect of the herbs, whether full-body, hand, or foot.
When you are finished, wrap yourself in a warm towel, or use a nice clean towel to dry your hands or feet.
If this has been a full-body bath and you have the time to do so, get into warm clothes or pajamas and get into bed for a while to let the healing energy of the bath and the herbs continue to work on you. If you are sick or have emotional issues going on, this is an important part of the healing ritual of the bath.
Even if you only do a hand or foot bath, taking time to be quiet and wrap yourself up in warmth and comfort will facilitate the healing.
Some Herbs for Baths
- Mints–peppermint, spearmint
- Powdered mustard seed
- Artemisias–mugwort, wormwood, southernwood, sagebrush, silver queen artimisia