Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Aromatherapy and Bath: Getting started

Since time immemorial, water has been regarded as the great healer. It was the ancient Greek and Roman cultures that first recognized the relaxing and remedial properties of water and of massaging oils into the body. Having a bath with essential oils is one of the simplest and most effective aromatherapy treatments. It can be stimulating or relaxing, depending on the temperature of the water and your choice of oils. The therapeutic action of the oils works in two ways: they are absorbed through the skin, moisturizing the dermis and entering the circulatory system, and at the same time their aromas are inhaled, stimulating the brain and increasing your sense of well-being. An aromatic bath can detoxify the body, help problems like cellulite, joint stiffness, general aches and pains, colds and headaches, tone and condition skin, and relieve anxiety and tension.

Getting started

A bath is a simple and effective way of using essential oils. All you need to do is a fill a tub with water, add 6-10 drops of essential oil in it and immerse yourself in the tub for 20 minutes and inhale the perfume. But before you get started, keep these tips in mind:

  • Temperature of the water is important. Remember, a cooler bath is more stimulating while a warm bath helps to relax.
  • Very hot water is damaging because it causes blood vessels and capillaries to expand and increases the heart beat. Hot is also very tough on the skin. You should particularly avoid hot water if you have varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and high blood pressure or are pregnant.
  • A 15--20 minute soak is long enough before skin cells over-hydrate and swell with water.
  • Wait until the bath is almost full before adding the oils, as they evaporate very quickly.

Oils for the Bath

You can add drops of oil directly to the bath and they will float on the surface in a fine film and evaporate, giving you the full benefit of their aromas. Or if you want to absorb them more you can disperse them in water by mixing with a base carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, jojoba or evening primrose (these rich base oils all nourish and rejuvenate the skin in their own right). Mix a bath oil with a combination of up to three essential oils, five drops from each, in one tablespoon of skin- softening base oil. Choose oils with similar or complementary effects so they do not counter-balance one another.

The relaxing bath

If you need to relax after a tough day or want to have a good night's sleep, then turn your bathroom into a private haven. Use a soft light or burn aromatic candles. Plants also add to the setting and mood, though they are optional. To relax, support your head with a bath pillow, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Concentrate on your breathing, empty your mind and let the oils soothe away all the stresses and strains. After a 15-20 minute soak, get out slowly and wrap yourself in a large, warm towel.

There are a number of oils that you can use to relax. These include Basil, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Frankincense, Hyssop, Juniper, Lavender, Marjoram, Melissa, Rose, Sage and Sandalwood. Although these oils have a predominantly calming effect some can also be used to stimulate the circulation and lymphatic system, in particular Lavender and Bergamot oils.

The stimulating bath

Start your day with panache or get charged up for an evening out with a bath that is stimulating. Keep the water fairly cool and use a bath sponge to rub down and stimulate the circulation. When you've soaked, rinse yourself with water as cold as you can bear, either by splashing directly from the tap, or shower, or by adding more cold water to further cool down your bath. Get your blood pumping by either slapping yourself dry or rubbing yourself vigorously with a towel. Your skin will tingle all over, leaving you stimulated for the day or night, as the case may be.

Oils that help to stimulate are Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Geranium, Juniper, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Pine, Rosemary or Thyme.

Whether you want to relax your senses your stir them up, there's no better than way an aromatic bath. It'll cool you down and reinvigorate your mind, body and soul.

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