A warm bath is more than pampering.
With today's busy lifestyle showers may seem to be a more efficient use of time, and while they won't cure cancer, relaxing in a warm bath can provide some significant health benefits, both psychological and physical that a shower just can't provide.
In 2002 a University of Wolverhampton study found that a daily bath significantly improved the mood and optimism of the participants, which was attributed to a combination of bodily comfort, warmth, isolation, and body positioning; being horizontal. Perhaps it mimics the warm and secure feelings of being in the womb.
The use of water for various health treatments (hydrotherapy) is probably as old as mankind. Archaeologists have found remains of bathing rooms in the palace of Knossos that date from 1700 B.C., indicating that the Greeks appreciated the effects of a good, long soak. The Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) also wrote extensively about the healing power of water. He advocated the use of saline baths and regularly immersed his patients in seawater to cure several ailments, including aching muscles and arthritis.
In addition to helping with muscle aches and pains, a warm baths can also help relieve some skin conditions and help prepare the body for restorative sleep.
Here are some tips to maximizing the benefits of a relaxing and healing bath.
Hot baths are actually not particularly good for your health. It can actually put a strain on the heart. Warm water is the ideal temperature.
Salt baths are one of the most ancient on the planet, beloved by the ancient Greeks and made into a full-blown industry in the 1700s in Europe. Using salt baths for pain relief have been a thing for thousands of years, but it's only now that we're understanding why.
In 2012, scientists showed that a saltwater bath takes a lot of the agony out of inflammation-based pain syndromes such as the chronic pain related to arthritis, fibromyalgia, or muscular low back issues. Dr Vincent Compan of Manchester University’s Faculty of Life Sciences found that the swelling of the cells in the bodies of arthritis sufferers can be reduced by dehydrating them with salt. The salt sucks the water out of the cells. The salt worked the same whether it was injected into the body or absorbed through the skin via bandages soaked in saline or bathing. This explains why hot springs which are high in salts are so effective and for years were frequented by patients seeking a miracle cure.
Two thousand years ago, Flavius Josephus wrote that the salts from the Dead Sea heal the human body. The Dead Sea has the highest salt content of any body of water in the world its waters have been renowned for their therapeutic effects since ancient times. The waters from the Dead Sea are unique in that they contain 27% of various salts as compared to 3% in normal sea water. Further, while sodium accounts for approximately 80% of the salt content of normal sea water, it comprises much less of the salt total in water from the Dead Sea. The balance of the salts in Dead Sea water are magnesium, potassium, calcium chloride, and bromides. Magnesium is important for both combating stress and fluid retention, slowing skin aging, and calming the nervous system. Calcium is effective at preventing water retention, increasing circulation, and strengthening bones and nails. Potassium energizes the body, helps to balance skin moisture, and is a crucial mineral to replenish following intense exercise. Bromides act to ease muscle stiffness and relax muscles. Sodium is important for the lymphatic fluid balance (this in turn is important for immune system function). So we can see that bathing in high-quality sea salt could replenish the minerals that are critical to our skin metabolism.
A mix of hydrotherapy and aromatherapy uses the essential oils from herbs and flowers, like lavender, rosemary or stinging nettles, to aid in relaxation or create analgesic, antiseptic or sedative properties. Since oils and water don't mix, simply adding 4 drops of essential oil to 1 Tsp honey, mixing in a cup of warm water and then adding it to your bath will work.
For the cold months to come, baths, and specifically soaks with tub tea, can help with any of the above conditions. The herbal sachet of lavender, chamomile flowers, and colloidal oatmeal.should steep in the water for about five minutes, at which point you can feel free to remove it or leave it in the water with you. Simply sink down, settle in, soak and enjoy every splendid second.
A drop in body temperature at night is one of the classic signals for the body to start producing melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Our bodies get colder at night naturally: apparently the temperature dip starts two hours before bed and lasts till about 4 a.m. Kick-starting that downward shift by heating yourself up artificially is an old trick to get yourself to feel sleepy.
For the health of your mind, body and soul, take some time to heal yourself every now and then, slow down, a take a nice warm bath.