The art of bathing has long been used to heal. Ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian cultures all recognised the healing, therapeutic benefits of taking time out to bathe. And we continue to do so today.
You can't argue - a long, warm bath after a long, hard day feels magical. And that's because, basically, it is. Bathing helps to relax muscular tension, relieve aches and pains, calm the mind, promote restful sleep and soften the skin, but also boosts the digestive, immune and detoxification systems in the body.
Detoxification is a natural process, allowing toxins (aka substances with a potential to interfere with both short- and long-term health) from our internal and external environments to be transformed into less harmful substances for excretion. Toxins commonly feature in dietary preservatives and additives, or they may be environmental or lifestyle related, from pesticide exposure to cleaning agents or cigarette smoke. Toxins may even be created internally from the re-circulation of metabolic waste, or by the bacteria of the digestive tract.
The aim of a detox is to improve our detox capacity, neutralise any free radicals, and eliminate waste products from our bods. In doing this, we're saying "good day to you, sir" to all the baddies that could otherwise be messing with our health.
So, how can I detox in the bath?
First up, the hotter your bath the better (don't forget that comfort's key, though, because burns: ain't no one got time for dat!).
Baths and detoxification make a great couple because of a warm bath's ability to open up the pores of the skin to allow toxin elimination to occur. And certain bath extras can help to level up this process by drawing those baddies out double-time. Oh, and if the pores are open to let out the bad stuff...the good stuff should be able to slip right on in there to work some magic, right? Right.
You should also consider a quick shower and scrub before you hop in your bath - by removing any residual skincare, oils and dead skin cells from your skin, your bath will be able to get to work more quickly.
Here are just four of my favourite detoxifying bath boosters for maximum healing:
1. S A L T. Salts like Epsom and Himalayan sea salt work wonders in a bath.
Epsom salt - which is actually a mineral magnesium sulphate compound and not a salt, just FYI - has the ability to deeply calm and relax, relieve pain, and flush toxins from the body.
Himalayan salt contains all 84 of the elements found naturally within the body, and is hence an amazing regulator, supporter and reviver.
2. E S S E N T I A L O I L S. Essential oils add a beautiful scent to your bath, but also bring with them a bevy of benefits. The following oils are particularly beneficial in aiding the body's detoxification processes through stimulation and support of the blood, skin, urinary, lymphatic and digestive systems (among others):
Cypress, Fennel, Grapefruit, Lemon, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rose, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang.
3. A . C . V . Apple Cider Vinegar clears and cleans the skin's pores, drawing out any toxins as it does so (I sometimes use a little on a cotton pad as a toner...ah-mazing!). Add a cup to your bath to boost its benefits. Oh, and if the smell's a little too much? Try adding some essential oils to counteract its pungency.
4. H E R B S. As herbs work within your body to aid detoxification (hello, Detox Tea!), they may also work through your skin in a tea bath. Brew some Burdock, Calendula, Chamomile, Ginger or Peppermint tea (or all of the above) to add to your bath - you can also add the dried herbs to your bath for extra aesthetic appeal, if you're like me. These herbs are beautifully, gently detoxifying.
Our Relax Soak contains three out of four of the above bath benefit boosters (which hey, isn't bad). With Epsom and Himalayan salts, a blend of beautifully relaxing essential oils (with bonus detox powers), and Calendula petals, this bath soak is sure to tick your bath-toxing boxes.
What's your favourite way to take a bath?
References: 'The Green Beauty Guide' by Julie Gabriel, 'The Good Bath Guide' by Pat Hagan, National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.