Health And Wellness

How To Relieve Stress Naturally With An Aromatherapy Bath

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How To Relieve Stress Naturally With An Aromatherapy Bath

Aromatherapy baths are a great way to relax and enjoy some personal pampering.

Depending on the essential oils used, aromatherapy stress-relief baths can treat the skin, improve circulation, transform moods, and revitalize the spirit.

Bathers first experience a waft of moist scented air that travels directly to the emotional and memory centers of the brain, instantly initiating the transformation process.

RELATED: 20 Best Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffusers That Make Your Home Smell Like Heaven

While bathing, essential oils maintain prolonged contact with the surface of the skin and are absorbed into its deeper layers.

They're also absorbed into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, in a sense "soaking" the entire body with their delightful healing properties.

With the right choice of high-quality essential oils used in the right way, an aromatic or aromatherapy bath can be healing and transformative.

Choosing essential oils.

There are many healing essential oils to choose for the bath.

When you draw an aromatherapy bath, make sure that you use high-quality essential oils derived from the specific botanical species that has the therapeutic or subtle properties you're looking for.

Synthetic or altered oils will not have the expected or desired healing properties, so check the precautions or contraindications for each essential oil you are considering using. 

Some nice essentials oils you can try for the bath:

  • Chamomile (Chamamelum nobile)
  • Frankincense (Boswellia cateri)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cabin)
  • Rose (Rosa damascena)
  • Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora)
  • Sandalwood (Santalum album or alternatives such as Santalum austrocaledonicum or Santalum spicatum)

Caution: Some essential oils listed below may cause irritation in the bath.

Certain essential oils are more irritating to the skin than others. This means they can be irritating in a bath, as well.

Typically, these oils can still be applied to the skin, but in only when more diluted or in a lower concentration.

Here's a list of some potential irritants:

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
  • Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomun zeylanicum)
  • Clove (Eugenia caryophyllus)
  • Lemon (Citrus limon)
  • Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
  • Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • Pines (Pinus spp)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Spearmint (Menta spicata)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

RELATED: The Different Types Of Essential Oils And How Aromatherapy Works

Essential oils have wonderful healing properties and are appropriate to use in many types of applications. Just take care when using them in the bath.

It's best to check the properties and cautions associated with all essential oils you plan to use for any application, especially for different clients or people (for example, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with certain health conditions).

Always add essential oils in a carrier that will mix with water.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant substances. Therefore, they can be irritating to the skin when used undiluted or in high concentrations.

If you just drop essential oils in the water without emulsifying them, the drops will float around on the surface of the water and come in contact with your skin — they'll feel just like they are full strength.

To increase the dispersion of the essential oils, add them to the dispersant before adding them to the bathwater as it is running from the faucet.

Typically, you should use no more than eight drops of the entire blend of essential oils per bath.

For those who tend to experience skin irritations, it's best to try the blend out with fewer drops first. If no irritation develops, add a couple more drops to the next bath, and so on.

Some people like stronger scents and may want to use more essential oil drops.

Using 10 drops to an entire bath is considered a high concentration or the maximum. It is not recommended for those with sensitive skin or a tendency to develop allergies. This includes young children and elderly adults.

For these individuals, use just a few drops — no more than four. It's very important to properly dilute the essential oils.

Essential oils are also lipophilic.

That means they like lipids (fats) and, therefore, dissolve well in oil. But it also means that essential oils don't dissolve readily in water.

The way to add essential oils to bathwater is to first mix them with some form of a carrier, emulsifier, or dispersant such as salts, vegetable oils, vegetable glycerin, gels, or whole milk.

Here's how to use these 4 different kinds of carriers for adding essential oils to your bathwater.

1. Salts.

Use whatever amount of salt you like to put in the bath. This will vary widely from one person to another. A rough estimate would be one hand full or between 1/2 and 1 cup of salt.

Mix six to eight drops of essential oils in the salt before you add it to the bath.

If mixing up a larger batch of salt, keep these proportions the same — i.e., two handfulls and 1 to 2 cups of salt. If you feel a salt bath is too drying, add just a little bit of carrier oil. To experiment, start with 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon.

2. Carrier oils (vegetable or nut).

Use between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon. Start out with less and see how it feels both in and after the bath. Oils generally absorb into the skin quickly, so even if your skin feels a little oily after your bath, you'll feel smooth and supple in no time flat.

Use a good quality vegetable oil. Organic is best. Generally speaking, if you would eat it, you can use it. And because the oil gets absorbed by the skin, consider using oils that have nice healing properties as well.

Just like with the salts, mix six to eight drops of essential oils or create an essential oil blend with the vegetable oil before adding to your bath.

You can make up larger batches of the oil just as with salts, but many carrier oils have shorter shelf lives than the essential oils you'll be adding to them.

3. Milk

Use between 1/4 and 1 cup. Add six to eight drops of essential oil to the milk before adding to your bath. Use whole-fat milk since essential oils dissolve in lipids (fats). Don't use skim or fat-free milk: It's a lot like trying to mix essential oils in water.

Bathers can use as much milk as they like. The amount used will be a reflection of cost and preference. Some people like to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of organic honey or oats to enhance your skin treatment.

4. Gels.

Use a tablespoon of gel — organic aloe vera or vegetable glycerin. Just like with the salts and oils, mix six to eight drops of essential oils with the gel before adding both to the bathwater.

Gels have a longer shelf life than vegetable oils.

It's best to take a warm bath as opposed to a very hot bath when using essential oils, especially if you have sensitive skin. Very hot baths stimulate the skin and the pores open wide.

RELATED: What Are Essential Oils? + How They Work & Which Are The Best To Use

Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC is a certified International Coaching Federation (ICF) Leadership Coach and a certified Martha Beck Life Coach. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.