Taking a bath can do your body a whole lot of good, especially if you incorporate a key ingredient: essential oils. “Baths are an effective way to deliver their healing power,” says Joie Power, Ph.D., director of The Aromatherapy School in Fairview, North Carolina, and a clinical consultant for the essential-oil company Artisan Aromatics. “The oils are absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream, where they’re eventually carried throughout the body.”

Power created the following recipes to soothe a variety of health issues. She recommends purchasing oils by their Latin names, to be sure that you're getting exactly the ones you want. (For example, there are several species of lavender, and their oils have somewhat different properties.) Since bathing can be drying to the skin, says Power, some people may need to limit their bathing to once a week. "Let your skin be your guide, and decrease the frequency of bathing if it's drying your skin," she says.

For each recipe, draw a bath of comfortably warm water. (Too much heat may cause the oils to evaporate.) Be sure to use the whole milk and honey, as they will help the oils disperse in the water. Soak for 15 minutes at most, and don’t use any soap or bubble bath (they will impede the skin's absorption of the oil).

A Daytime Bath For Muscle Aches And General Body Pain

To 1 tablespoon whole milk or honey, add:

  • 2 drops rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • 2 drops eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
  • 2 drops marjoram oil (Origanum marjorana)

"These three oils exert anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects, helping reduce aches and pains," says Power. "While marjoram is sedative and can be used at night, rosemary and eucalyptus can be stimulating, so they're best used only in daytime."

A Nighttime Bath For Muscle Aches And General Body Pain

To 1 tablespoon whole milk or honey, add:

  • 2 drops marjoram oil (Origanum marjorana)
  • 2 drops lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 2 drops Roman chamomile oil (Anthemis nobilis)

"All of these oils have been shown to aid in pain reduction," says Power. "They're also calming and sedative, so they can be used at night."

A Daytime Bath For The Onset Of Cold/Flu

To 1 tablespoon whole milk or honey, add:

  • 1 drop tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 2 drops eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus globulus)
  • 1 drop peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)

Power recommends taking this daytime bath as soon as you feel a cold or the flu coming on. "Tea tree and eucalyptus [oils] are especially useful for viral and bacterial colds and flu, and peppermint has a proven ability to reduce aches and pains," she says. "The combination exerts antimicrobial actions, stimulating the immune response and easing body pain. Since eucalyptus and peppermint are stimulating oils, they aren't good for nighttime use." 

A Nighttime Bath For The Onset Of Cold/Flu

To 1 tablespoon whole milk or honey, add:

  • 3 drops lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 2 drops marjoram oil (Origanum marjorana)
  • 1 drop tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

“This combination has the strong antiviral and immune-stimulating effects of tea tree, and the pain-relieving, calming effects of lavender and marjoram, so you won’t be kept awake,” says Power. “Since a cold or flu leaves you in an already weakened condition, make sure the bath isn’t too hot -- and be careful getting in and out of the tub.”

A Calming Nighttime Bath For Sleep

To 1 tablespoon of whole milk or honey, add:

  • 2 drops lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • 2 drops Roman chamomile oil (Anthemis nobilis)
  • 1 drop clary sage oil (Salvia sclarea)

"Lavender essential oil is frequently used for addressing sleep issues," notes Power. "All three of these [oils] have been shown in research studies to have calming or sleep-inducing properties, as well as anxiety-reducing and pain-reducing [qualities].”

Note: The above formulas are for adults only. Pregnant women should consult their doctor or a qualified aromatherapist before using essential oils.


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