From ancient times through the Middle Ages, different nations of the Mediterranean and Near East used aromatic herbal baths widely for medical purposes.
Over time this practice, which began in Ancient Egypt and Babylon and was further developed by famous Greek scholars and practitioners, spread throughout Southern Europe and the Near East and, later, influenced medical practices in Western Europe.
Herbal baths, which were highly valued by the ancients, are not completely forgotten today.
Modern science proves that bathing can relieve muscle tension, dilate blood vessels, and slow the heart rate. Herbs can contribute to these benefits.
Bathing with infusions of fragrant herbs is used traditionally to treat many diseases, may eliminate physical and mental tiredness, and is beneficial for the skin and hair.
Japanese have long known and respected the relaxing properties of hot baths. In Japan, it is customary to first wash and rinse well in a separate shower or basin and then take a long hot (extremely hot by Western standards) bath. It is not appropriate to actually wash in the bath. The water is conserved and reheated for reuse by others in the household. Maggie Tisserand mentions that the working Japanese individual can call from work and program the bath water to be hot and ready at the time he/she arrives home from a hard day at work.
Since the late 1960s, owing to the widespread use of Phytotherapy (Medicinal plants) in the United States and Europe, herbal baths have become even more popular.
Many unique methods of application of herbs in our daily life have been developed, and today a number of medicinal preparations and cosmetics are produced with herbs and sold throughout the world. Soaps, shampoos, and shower gels containing various herbs and other plant-derived aromatic substances are now widely available for bathing or hand washing.
However, essential oils are not the only agents working in an aromatic bath. Fragrant plants contain numerous other constituents (tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, etc.) that are also therapeutic in an herbal bath. The infusion of a whole fragrant herb is often considered to be more effective than its pure volatile oil.
Despite the number of modern works on herbal medicine, compared with the ancient medical manuscripts, they contain limited information about aromatic baths.
Many ancient recipes have been forgotten. To revive them, one must refer to the ancient books on medicine and pharmacy. These sources contain numerous recommendations that might be of interest to modern physicians and could enrich modern herbal medicine.
Bathing with essential oils is a wonderfully synergistic combination. The relaxing properties of hot water compliment the effects of well chosen essential oils. Aromatic baths can provide relief from stress and anxiety, assist with muscle pains, or offer a sensual introduction to a romantic evening with your partner.
Using essential oils in the bath is one of the easiest ways to implement aromatherapy and its benefits, but care must be taken when using essential oils at bath time.
Add 3-5 drops of essential oil to 5 ml of carrier oil.
Mixing your essential oil blend in Epsom Salt, Dead Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Sea salts, or a combination of these salts, is strongly recommended as essential oils and carrier oils do not stay mixed with water.
Add this blend to your running bath water and mix well before getting into the tub. Be sure to read the safety data for the essential oils you choose to use.