by Wendy Mackay MIAAMA
Bathing is probably one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your life.
Bathing has a long history and references to baths have been found in early archaeological records. Hippocrates wrote that a perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday was the way to good health.
The earliest & most simple method of perfuming a bath was to tie a bundle of aromatic herbs or flowers together & place them in the water. Now we have essential oils to provide an easy and attractive way of adding the properties of healing plants to water in therapeutic baths.
An aromatherapy bath can be relaxing or stimulating, sedative or uplifting, warming or cooling, depending on the oils used. Bathing can relax the nerves & soothe muscular aches and pains. But for most of us the aromatic bath is probably most useful for relieving stress.
To prepare an aromatic bath, run a warm bath. You can have the water as warm or hot as is comfortable. But do not make the water too hot if you have dry or sensitive skin.
For an adults bath, add 4-8 drops of essential oil just before you get in and swish this around very well. Essential oils do not dissolve readily in water but will disperse if well mixed. Do not prepare the bath in advance as much of the volatile oil will be lost. Dont be tempted to add more oil, even if the amount looks tiny. Essential oils are very concentrated and the number of drops suggested is more than sufficient
Allow plenty of time for a relaxing soak for at least 10 minutes, or up to 20 minutes if you can! Some of the oil will adhere to the skin and some will be inhaled as an aromatic vapour
You can also use a dispersant to help the essential to mix with the water. You can use a tablespoon of a carrier oil, such as grapeseed, sweet almond or apricot. This is very useful for dry skin. Alternatively you can use full cream milk (not low fat or skimmed) or cream. Mix the essential oil in the dispersant and then add to the bath.
Dilution of the essential oil is vital in baths for babies or children. Also remember to at least halve the number of drops for a childs bath. For babies and very young children only 1-2 drops are needed.
Your choice of oils will depend on the effect you are looking for. To relax or to aid sleep try lavender or ylang ylang; to soothe the skin, chamomile; to ease muscular aches, lavender, marjoram or pine; to stimulate and awaken, rosemary; to uplift the spirits, grapefruit or ylang ylang
Some oils can irritate so it is best to avoid these in baths. These oils include black pepper, ginger, basil and peppermint.
A simple foot or hand bath is another easy way of combining essential oils and water. This can be useful if you do not have a bath or if you wish to treat a particular part of the body, e.g. aching feet after a long day. Simply add 4 to 6 drops of essential oil to a bowl of warm water, mix well and soak.
Aromatherapy bathing is a wonderful way to enhance our lives and combine aromatic essential oils with the healing and restoring powers of water.
(This information is meant as general advice. Please consult your health practitioner or a qualified aromatherapist for advice on your specific situation.)
Wendy Mackay is a qualified Aromatherapist and a member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA). Wendy along with her husband David is the Founder and Director of Essence of Wellbeing. Essence of Wellbeing is dedicated to the best in Aromatherapy and Pure Natural Skin Care and is located in Mornington on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.
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