Perhaps my favorite way to reach people who are depressed, anxious and stressed is through herbal infused baths. I have an extra long claw foot tub that I rescued from recycling at a hardware store. I fixed it up and built a bathroom that could fit its large size. When you take a bath, your pores open up and herbal compounds can come in more easily, helping us to feel more deeply relaxed and calm.
There are a number of ways to connect to soothing and relaxing plants in a bath. The first one is quite simple. Make a large batch of tea from a particular herb. To do this add a about 8 heaping tablespoons of herb (one large handful) to a half gallon container. Boil some water and fill up your container. Steep for 10 minutes and then strain out the herb and pour the tea into your bath. Some options for bath “teas” include
rose petal: Good for sadness and heartache.
oatstraw: Good for nervous system exhaustion.
chamomile: Calming and relaxing.
peppermint: Stimulating and uplifting.
lemon balm: Calming and soothing.
rosemary leaf: Brings greater alertness and clarity.
Lavender: Brings tranquility and great pleasure.
These are all herbs that you can easily grow in your garden or in containers. As usual, I encourage folks to make a direct connection to their plants if at all possible. A plant like lemon balm grows like a weed and often you can find it in nooks and crannies of your yard trying to take over. If you were going to trim it back anyway, gather it and make a bath with it so you can connect to lemon balm’s volatile oils through touch.
Another way to incorporate herbs into your bath is to purchase essential oils and add them to a carrier oil. Remember that it takes an enormous amount of plant material to make one essential oil so this is not the most sustainable way to work with plants. I definitely support making baths with herbal teas first if you can. If you do work with essential oils, make sure you are getting them from a reputable vendor. I like to work with local small batch distillers (here are some resources) because I know the people who are making them, their intentions and that they are sustainable and ethically harvesting the plants.
To make an essential oil infused herbal bath first consider which essential oils can really enhance the bathing experience. Some of the ones I love best include lavender, douglas fir, chamomile and jasmine.
To make your epsom salts, gather a mixing bowl, baking soda, high quality sea
salt and the essential oil of your choice.
Then add two cups of epsom salts to your mixing bowl
Then add a half cup of baking soda to your bowl.
Add a quarter cup of salt to your mixing bowl.
Add about 30 drops of lavender essential oil to your mix. (From Ring Botanicals.)
Mix the ingredients and then pour into a glass container that can be closed.
Store in a dark space. Pour 1/2 to one cup of salts in with your bath.
And there you have it. A simple way to make an herbal infused epsom salt bath. This is one of my favorite ways I recommend for removing stress, relaxing the system and bringing some joy and pleasure to daily life. It is also relatively inexpensive. It may cost a dollar or two for the essential oils, and a couple dollars for the salts and soda. This is enough to make a several great baths. Try this method or make herbal teas and put them directly in the bath. Enjoy!
You can also find me at the Facebook group Herbs for Mental Health