Most of us, at some stage, run a bath, have a good scrub, and relax. But apart from the cleanliness aspect, a bath can do wonders for your health. Did you know, for example, that bran in your bath water is said to help nervous conditions? Many other ailments may also be bathed away.
I am addicted to baths. I like them cold, hot, and tepid. Baths are pleasure rituals, as well as for health and cleanliness. In addition, the right bath, and there are many to choose from, is an effective, inexpensive medicine.
My favorite baths vary with my mood and according to need. I like hot water baths to relax and soothe the body and to overcome aches and pains. However, long hot baths deplete the energy and tone within the body. Coldwater, on the other hand, restores body tone.
In the case of pain, when you want to relax before sleep, or if you wish to stimulate perspiration to eliminate toxins, bacteria, or disease from the body, warm or hot baths are effective. Otherwise, use either tepid, cool, or cold water baths.
For tonic effects there is nothing better than cold water. No matter what your bathing preference is, remember to end each bath and shower with cool or cold water.
1. Cold bath therapy
- stimulates the body
- acts as a tonic
- promotes resistance to disease
- lowers extreme fever.
A plunge into very cold water is most exhilarating. I had my first experience with the cold plunge after a sauna in Sweden. The first effect was a slight shock to the body, then pleasure.
Method: To duplicate the famous Swedish cold bath at home, first warm your body up with hot drinks (herbal teas are excellent), a hot steamy bath or shower, and then immerse your body in a full tub of cold water from the tap.
The first effect is chill, followed by comfort. A second chill will follow, however, so leave the bath very soon after you feel the comfort set in. Always end this bath with a vigorous towel rub.
Remain in the bath for 30 seconds to three minutes, depending on your tolerance. Many people who use this bath develop such a tolerance that they can remain several minutes longer.
This bath produces a sense of deepened vitality. All the famous American and European spas encourage clients to take this plunge after steam or sauna sessions since the cold plunge completely revitalizes the body.
Do not use this bath if you have organic diseases, high blood pressure, a nervous temperament, if you are weak, or have colitis. In these cases the body’s reaction is usually negative.
The bath temperature should be below 18.3 degrees celsius.
2. Hot bath therapy
- alleviates pain
- reduces muscle spasms
- relieves internal congestion
- induces perspiration
- eliminates fatigue after exercise
- relaxes and calms the body.
Hot baths are also useful to sedate and relax the body, to relieve pain, and to eliminate toxins from the body through the skin. They can also be used to warm the body for other cold water therapies. I use hot baths (sometimes with herbs and medicinal substances added) after exercises or to help abort a cold.
However, hot baths deplete energy. Make sure to apply a cold compress on the forehead to offset the rush of blood from the head.
Method: Fill the tub completely. Start running the bathwater at body temperature, or slightly higher, and gradually increase the water temperature until it is as hot as the body can tolerate comfortably.
Position the body so that the head is resting comfortably against a small rolled towel, so all other parts of the body are completely submerged. Apply a cold compress to the head and keep it there for the duration of the bath.
Remain in the bath for two to 20 minutes, depending on comfort and need. As the bathwater begins to cool, let a little out and replace it with hot water from the tap. Do this as often as necessary to maintain the desired temperature.
End the bath by gradually letting out all the hot water and replacing it with cool water. As a final step, splash cold water all over the body. Get out of the bath and dry the body by rubbing it vigorously with a heavy towel.
3. Sponge bath therapy
- when the body is overheated
- reduces fever
- whenever water is needed for medicine.
This bath generally requires only several liters of water. Remember that a warm sponge bath sedates, a cold sponge bath stimulates.
Method: Splash the face with lukewarm water. Dip the sponge in warm water to which a small amount of apple cider vinegar has been added, and sponge the body in sections, keeping each part of the body either warm or covered.
Rub the skin vigorously with the sponge until the skin is fairly red, moving from the upper part of the body to the lower. Be sure to re-rub the upper part at intervals to prevent chills (especially when reducing a fever).
As soon as the sponging is finished, wind a clean sheet or large towel around the body, and rub dry. Freshen the bedclothes, place a light blanket on the body, and take a restful nap.
4. Cold-water treading therapy
- relieves the effects of weakness
- poor circulation
- varicose veins and aching feet
- weak ankles
- cold feet.
I love cold-water treading because it produces a feeling of euphoria and good health. Cold-water treading reduces the feeling of heat in the summer and helps to re-energize the body. It is the most important of the preventive water treatments because it builds up resistance to disease and slowly develops a physical vigor within the body.
Such foot baths help to overcome post-exercise leg aches. My jogging friends now take a full warm to a hot bath to relieve muscles and add a nightly, before-bedtime walk-in-cold-water. They report they no longer have the leg cramps that plague many runners.
Method: Fill the bathtub with cold water up to the ankles, or, for a deeper effect, with enough water to cover the calves. Climb in and hold on to a stationary wall grip. March in place for five seconds to five minutes. In warm or hot weather, walk around barefoot afterward, or wipe the feet vigorously with a towel.
Water temperature should be 15 to 17 degrees celsius. Do this twice a day, morning and late afternoon. You will find walking in wet grass is also strengthen- ing.
5. Cold, running-water foot bath therapy
- relieves the effects of insomnia
- congestion in head
- general fatigue
- moderate depression.
Method: Sit on the edge of the bathtub and place your feet and ankles under cold running tap water for several seconds to several minutes depending on your tolerance for cold.
Herbal, medicated baths
There are many substances that can be added to baths to produce special effects. Water by itself has a remarkable ability to alter the body state. Adding certain herbal and pharmaceutical substances is a bonus to the body.
Some herbs soothe, others sedate or stimulate, and others soften the skin, Most important is the ability of some substances to stimulate perspiration. and so release toxins from the body.
6. Apple cider vinegar bath therapy
- overcomes fatigue
- relieves itchiness
- relieves sunburn
- is good for the skin.
Apple cider vinegar is a reliable, inexpensive bath aid. I purchase it in quantity so that I never run out.
Method: Add about one cup to bathwater. But if I am trying to overcome fatigue, I first pour a little of the apple cider vinegar into my hand, and splash it over my shoulders, arms, back, and chest. I then slide into the hot bath and soak with my entire body submerged.
Next, I let out the warm water and slowly replace it with cold water, splashed first over my feet, and then sponged over my entire body.
Add two cups of apple cider vinegar to bathwater to overcome itchiness.
7. Salt massage therapy
- aborts an oncoming cold
- restores the circulation
- overcomes sluggishness
- adds buoyancy
- eliminates dead skin.
This is a must when you are feeling low. The salt friction on the body along with other tonic therapies and relaxing warm baths (filled with herbal substances or coarse salt) can actually keep you going through stressful periods.
I always keep a decorative jar of sea salt so I can make up a quick salt paste for a massage.
When massaged as a paste over unbroken skin, salt acts as a body stimulant, increases the circulation in anemic conditions, helps to overcome mild depressions, increases the tone of the body before or after an infection, and can help to overcome the body trauma caused by excessive drinking.
This massage may be used separately or in conjunction with an immersion salt bath.
Massage: A vigorous massage with a slushy paste of salt and warm water increases circulation; cleanses the skin and therefore aids elimination through the skin; stimulates both the sebaceous glands and the nervous system.
The massage acts as a tonic on the blood vessels and other tissues of the body. The total feeling after this rub is one of rejuvenation and renewed vitality.
Method: Sit nude on the edge of a bathtub filled with warm water. Pour a handful of salt into a container or your hand. Add small amounts of water until you have a thick paste.
Apply the salt paste in slow, circular motions over the body from the shoulders to the feet. This salt massage may also be applied while you are sitting with both feet in hot water. In this case, also apply a damp cold compress to the forehead.
After the massage, either wash the salt off with a gentle shower, a cold sponging or slide into the bath which has, meanwhile, been filled with moderately warm to hot water. Soak the entire body. The massage should only take a few minutes. Do not use a salt massage if skin lesions or inflammation are present.
8. Oatmeal bath therapy
- soothes the skin
- overcomes itchiness
- overcomes hives
- relieves sunburn, chafing, windburn, dishpan hands.
Oatmeal is one of the most extraordinary grains. It is not only useful and dependable in soothing and nourishing the body internally, but it also coats, soothes and restores rough skin.
Method: To use oatmeal in the bath, either blend raw oatmeal into tiny particles or use a prepared, glue-like suspended oatmeal. Add up to one cup of oatmeal to tepid or warm bathwater.
Oatmeal in the bathwater mollifies windburn and sunburn and relieves itchiness. You can prepare your own oatmeal body-soother by blending the rough cooking oatmeal into a powder. Do this in advance, bottle, label, and keep at arm’s reach.
9. Camomile bath therapy
- soothes skin
- is antiseptic
- opens pores and eliminates blackheads
- as a sleeping aid
- for digestive problems.
The mild apple-smelling camomile is one of the most versatile of herbs.
Method: Pour a pint of boiling water over a handful of camomile flowers in a non-aluminum container, steep for 15 minutes, strain, and pour the strained liquid into a steamy hot bath.
Relax in the bath for about 10 minutes. This will open the pores of the body and the face. The hot bath, however, will cause lassitude and deplete muscle tone, so end this bath by splashing cold water on your body to restore the tone.