The Essential Bath


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[smells] bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection. Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.

Science now confirms what Monsieur Proust and aromatherapists knew all along: Fragrance works directly on the brain like a beneficial drug. Acting through the limbic system, which is essentially an extension of the brain, an odor can relax, revitalize, refurbish, induce sleep or desire and, as Marcel Proust discovered when he sniffed the tea-dipped madeleine, provoke memory. Until recently, aromatherapists, along with herbalists and other natural healers, were dismissed as a fringe cult in North America. Europeans, particularly the French and Germans, have maintained respect for herbal medicine, even to the degree of including herbalist courses in their medical schools. The tide is now turning in Canada and the US. Many people, disillusioned with mainstream medicine, are turning to alternative health techniques, and prominent among these is aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is enjoyable and therapeutic. Working with the essential oils of your choice, you can save money and have fun making your own bath products. Lavender is known for its relaxing, stress-relieving qualities. Citrus oils are wonderful mood elevators, so here’s how to simply make your own “better-than-a-martini” Lavender and Tangerine Aromatherapy Bath Crystals to soak in and unwind at the end of a stressful day. Use half a cupful per bath.

Lavender and Tangerine Aromatherapy Bath Crystals

  • 2 cups of Epsom salts.
  • 5-6 drops of red and blue food colouring (the red and blue combination will give the salts a delightful lavender hue).
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • 10 drops of tangerine essential oil.
    Measure the Epsom salts into a glass bowl. Add the food coloring and the essential oils and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. You will need to use a lot of elbow grease in the mixing to get the food colouring dispersed evenly. However, the heavenly fragrance assailing your nostrils will make it worthwhile. Do not use any metal utensils as the essential oils will react with the metal, even stainless steel. Using a funnel, slip your lavender and tangerine bath crystals into an attractive glass bottle or decanter. If you are making a gift for someone (what a wonderful Valentine’s Day present!), decorate the container with a ribbon or flowers attached to the bottle with a hot glue gun. The recipe can safely be doubled or tripled if you want to make several bottles at once. After you've made your Lavender and Tangerine Bath Crystals you can experiment endlessly with your own combination of food colourings and any of the 200 different essential oils. It is important to use only real essential oils from an aromatherapy or health food store and not fragrance or potpourri oils as these are usually petroleum based and can cause a severe rash. “Also, ” warn Nancy Larose and Daniela Cubelic, aromatherapists with Silk Road Aromatherapy and Tea Company in Victoria, BC, “Never take essential oils internally. They are highly concentrated and can be fatally toxic. ” Nancy and Daniela go on to warn that undiluted essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin. “Their high degree of concentration can cause skin irritation, ” they say. “At Silk Road we always use a blend of natural vitamin E oil, aloe vera and jojoba oil as a carrier. This dilutes the concentration and makes the aroma of the essential oil last. Without a carrier oil, most of the essential oil – which is not actually oily, but a thin liquid – will quickly evaporate. ” Writer and critic, Edmund Wilson, said that he had enjoyed more uplifting thoughts and creative and expansive visions while soaking in a comfortable bath than he had experienced in any cathedral. He must have made his own aromatherapy bath crystals.

    Bruce Burnett is a chartered herbalist who has also won four Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold awards for travel journalism. Read more of Bruce Burnett's writing on his websites:

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