By Dr Kasturi Desai
Gathing cleanses and beautifies the whole body. It is one that is followed all over the world. A bath not only cleanses the body but also energises it, freshens it up and relaxes the tired body. Besides relaxing the body, it relaxes the mind also. After a bath, a person is able to do perform his/her work better and if one bathes at night, one can sleep deeply and calmly with a relaxed mind. Another thing that is important is the temperature of the water, whether it is warm or cold, which depends upon the climatic conditions and the personal preference. For some, cold water is a relaxant while for others warm water is must for bathing. Generally in cold weather conditions, warm to hot water is used for bathing.
Ordinarily we complete our regular bath by using soap and water. But to make bathing a pleasant and exciting experience a number of herbs can be added to the water. An oil massage followed by a bath makes the body supple, relieves stiffness of the muscles, relaxes one from tiredness and tension, and increases blood circulation. Mixture of oil and water makes the skin smooth and silky.
Different types of oil like til, coconut or mustard can be used for a massage. Usually in cold places mustard oil is used and down south coconut or til oil is preferred. To get relief from irregular menses a hip bath with a handful of crushed til seeds give relief. Some aromatic oil or herbs can be added to the bath water. Herbs possess therapeutic properties that can soothe the skin and relax the muscles and joints, and stimulate the circulation. As an added bonus, many of them also smell good.
Lavender is one such herb found in the Mediterranean region but the essential oil made from it is widely available. It is well known for its sweet aroma. To hot water a few drops of this oil can be added. It helps to soothe the muscles. It is very good for those who are unable to sleep soundly. A hot bath just before going to bed is helpful.
Those who have bouts of cold and flu can use rosewood oil. Rosewood oil is obtained by steam distillation of the wood of the Dalbergia latifolia. The oil relieves all body aches due to cold and fever. This oil also has an anti depressant effect. It is also used as an antiseptic and a bath will help to keep the body free from skin infection. If this oil is not available, the best substitute for relieving aches and pains of the body due to cold and fever is a hot bath with Adulso leaves. Adulso is very common in Goa. It is botanically called Adhatoda vasica.
When considering the antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties. nothing can beat our indigenous Neem. Two trees both referred to as Kadu neem locally are available with similar uses. They are Azadirachta indica and Melia azadarach. A hot bath with the infusion of the leaves is very good for skin diseases. Patients suffering from chicken pox and measles are given bath with neem leaves. It helps to reduce body ache and also acts as an antiseptic. Regular head bath with these bitter leaves help to relieve children suffering from an infection of lice.
Among the Muslims there is a custom of taking a bath on Moharam day with the leaves of the Zizuphus jujuba or bora. In fact bora leaves are effective in treating skin infections, boils and carbuncles.
Another common herb that can be used regularly in our bath is Tulsi. Ocimum tenuiiflorum is the new name for O. sanctum it has a refreshing effect and is best used to treat nervous tension, mental fatigue, migraines and depression. It also gives mental strength and clarity. A regular bath with tulsi tones up the skin and cures acne and skin infections.
If one has rose bushes in one’s garden, gather the petals of the mature flower and keep a handful of them in a bucket or place them in muslin bags and place them in the bucket. Pour hot water on it. A rose bath is not only refreshing and but also gives a pleasant aroma; it is good for all types of skin. It helps in toning the skin and also helps in balancing the natural oil of the skin. We all use ginger in our diet but a ginger bath is very effective on chilly mornings. It helps to stimulate the lymph system and improves circulation. Similarly a bath with Eucalyptus oil or lemon grass also helps to fight cold.Read More »