It doesn’t get much better than a hot relaxing soak in the tub—but now the power of a bath can be backed up by science.
While I have always been a bath lover over showers, it wasn't until I became ill that I realized the true benefits of a bath. Before, I delve into the whole bath thing, here are a few fun facts about the history of bathing.
One might think that before the modern age, humans were barbaric and dirty, not showering for days, weeks, or even months at a time. But of course, history is not quite so simple, and plenty of ancient cultures had their own sophisticated bathing rituals — whether for hygienic, therapeutic, religious or even social purposes.
Amazingly enough, the Greeks were the first to develop showers, where by they created lead pipes that had water flow through them onto peoples heads.. The Romans expanded on this pipe system, creating aqueducts that supplied indoor plumbing and bathhouses with water. These public bathhouses were essentially the ancient form of spas, offering massages, exercise, and entertainment, while also being the meeting place to socialize.
Though humans throughout history didn’t have all the scientific evidence showing the medical importance of hygiene like we do today, cleanliness was still often associated with power, spirituality, and even beauty. Strangely enough, although we view bathing as a private matter today, it was a shared ritual for thousands of years — a way to build community and human connection.
3000-2001 B.C. Archaeologists list the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro as one of the earliest public baths in history. Located in Sindh, Pakistan, the bath dates back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization — one of the three oldest human civilizations, next to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Two stairwells led into the bath, which measured nearly 40 feet by 22 feet.
1500 B.C. Ancient Egyptians placed high importance on the rituals of washing, bathing, and applying cosmetics, as it was believed that the cleaner and well-oiled the person was, the closer they were to the gods. Many washed themselves several times a day, including after rising and before and after meals,
500-300 B.C. “Showers” in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia involved rich people having private rooms in which servants poured cold water out of jugs over them, but the ancient Greeks were really the first to pioneer what we now consider the modern shower.
The Roman era. The city of Bath, known as Aqua e Sulis during ancient Roman times and located in what is now England, was perhaps a quintessential example of bathing culture in Rome during its heyday. Notorious for being a city of bathing, Bath contained an array of amazing public baths with hydro-thermal springs and sophisticated water systems.
476 A.D. When the Roman empire collapsed and the Dark Ages rolled in, the Roman aqueducts and indoor plumbing fell into disuse and disrepair. As a result, a lot of showers, public bathhouses, and private bathing facilities disappeared, ushering in a new era of uncleanliness throughout Europe.
700s A.D. But despite the popular belief that the Medieval era were a cesspool of absolute filth, public bathhouses in the Western world still existed — some in very strange ways. Public bathhouses, despite some disapproval from the Catholic Church, carried on as centers of socialization and relaxation. People would even have dinner parties in baths, with a plank placed over the top of the bath as a table for food, and a musician entertaining them nearby.
710-1300s A.D. In Asia, the bathing culture can be traced back to Buddhist temples in India, where priests bathed for religious reasons.
1340s-1350s . The Bubonic Plague changed the way a large chunk of Europeans viewed bathhouses. As there was yet no scientific or medical understanding of germs, people worried that open pores could allow illness to enter their bodies, and believed that dirt all over their skin would prevent disease.
The notion that bathing and hygiene could serve medical purposes didn’t arrive until the 18th and 19th centuries; in fact, doctors didn’t even wash their hands before surgery until they accepted 'Ignaz Semmelweis’ findings on germs in the late 1800s..
1829 The first modern public baths were opened in Liverpool, England. This renewed interest in ancient Roman and Turkish baths
1861. By now, the idea that a lot of diseases could be prevented by sanitation and good hygiene had begun to take hold. In 1861
Early 1900s. A typical Saturday night in the early 1900s involved American family members fetching and carrying loads of water into the kitchen, heating it, then filling a bath with it. Usually, the father of the family bathed first, followed by the mother, then the children, with the youngest last. Saturday night bathing rituals were a way to prepare for the laborer’s Sunday of rest.
Today, the average working American showers daily, sometimes twice a day — typically after waking or before going to sleep. Showering or taking baths are now a private affair, but it’s not hard to see that bathing in general can have health benefits beyond removing dirt and germs from our skin’s surface.
Taking baths in particular can reduce stress, improve cold symptoms through the steam, relax muscles, and aid in better sleep. Mixing that with exercise and a good intellectual conversation can only make it better — the ancient Romans and Ottomans were certainly onto something when bathhouses were centers of cultural and social gatherings.
After a long, hard day at work sometimes all you want to do is shut the bathroom door and draw a long, hot bath. The calming effect a bath can have on your nerves (and nervous system) is practically a given. Remember the Calgon commercial way back in the 70s (“Calgon take me away!”)?
Well, now a days you don’t have to rely on potentially toxic commercial bubble bath solutions to give you relief. In fact, if done properly, an essential oil bath coupled with bath salts can be a legitimate healing and energizing experience… as well as a deliciously relaxing one.
So, why do we take a Hot Bath?
Most of us know that a healthy human being maintains a fairly constant temperature of approximately 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C). Many individuals with certain chronic health conditions such as hypothyroidism or cancer may have a basal body temperature that is lower than this. Even a chronically lower body temperature of a half a degree below normal can potentially lower immune function by 20%.
For individuals with chronic diseases such as these, regular soaks not only relax stress responses to promote healing, but can also lead to improved immune function and regulation of pH levels through exposure to high heat as well.
Research has shown that high temperatures even have the ability to shrink cancer tumors. A study conducted at the Charite Medical School in Berlin, Germany, found that hypothermia damaged cancer cell proteins, which led to tumor shrinkage. This makes sense since many disease conditions, including cancer, thrive in acidic, low pH environment. As temperature rises, pH levels in the body rise as well.
It seems as if ancient healers knew all along about the benefits of raising body temp for healing. “Give me a chance to create a fever and I will cure any disease,” said the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides around the year 500 BC. And in the ancient Indian healing art of Ayurveda, a morning bath is said to be a good daily practice, or dinacharya.
So take the plunge and make it a ritual to Splish Splash in a bath.
You’ll likely need to enact this step ahead of time and invest some cash as well, but this step should be considered a necessity - especially if you are in an area where fluoride is purposely added to the municipal water supply. Note: You can check whether your city or town has fluoridated water by going to the My Water’s Fluoride website maintained by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Even if your community does not fluoridate the water, other contaminants may be present in the tap water you will be soaking in if you don’t have a proper filter. These additives can include chlorine, lead, iron, copper, and hydrogen sulfide as well as a cocktail of drug residue such as opiates, birth control pills, pesticides from agricultural irrigation, and other pharmaceutical drugs.
If you use well water, be sure to have your water tested periodically to ensure your water is as pure as you think it is. Arsenic is a naturally occurring toxin that is common in groundwater (and hence well water). Back in 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey found that 10 percent of groundwater samples across US exceeded the EPA’s regulatory limit. According to the World Health Organization, long-term exposure to arsenic can cause “cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.”
Decide beforehand what kind of essential oil bath experience you want to have. Do you just want to Detox? Then lemon, peppermint, grapefruit, basil and ginger make an excellent tonic. If you want to relax then lavender oil or geranium rose can be your go-to oils.
Need to invigorate for a night on the town? Try a little peppermint, spearmint, or citrus oils like grapefruit or orange to give you energy and increase vitality. Adding a little frankincense essential oil can balance the senses, boost the immune system, and lead to a general sense of peace and well-being. For sore, achy muscles, a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the bathwater can help soothe. Or if you’re plagued with itchy skin from bug bites or a fungal skin condition, you may find a few drops of tea tree oil in your bath provides some welcome relief. Note: you’ll likely want to use cooler water for the itchy skin as well.
Play around and try different combinations of essential oils in your bathwater to find the ones you like most. There’s no right or wrong combination. Just remember that a little goes a long way with quality essential oils and to be cautious as they may make your tub more slick than usual.
We are firm believers of detoxing and make it part of our daily lifestyle habits? Did you know: on an average day, a typical human will come into contact with 700,000 and 2.1 million different kinds of toxic chemicals! A 2012 study conducted by the University of California, found that the average person is also exposed to toxins such as arsenic and dioxin; 100% of the children tested in the study had levels of these chemicals in their system that exceeded cancer risk benchmarks.
So, taking a detoxing mineral bath two or three days per week, in addition to other detoxification actions, will do a lot to keep your system clean and toxin-free. You can easily do this by adding some Dead Sea Salts, Epsom Salts or Himalayan Pink Salt (which contains over 80 minerals and trace minerals) to your essential oil bathwater.
If you are wondering how much salt to use? The general rule of thumb is 1/2 - 1 cup (for a normal sized bath).
However, if you want to follow the principles of balneotherapy (literally ‘bath therapy’), or thalassotherapy (literally ‘sea therapy’) enough pure sea salt must be added to bath water, until it contains more salt than the body (this is called ‘a hyper tonic solution’). This is an excellent way to deliver trace minerals and to help the body cleanse itself.
The French scientist René Quinton devoted much of his life’s work to the study of seawater, and in 1906 published ‘L’eau de Mer, Milieu Organique’ (‘Sea Water, Organic Medium‘), which demonstrated the chemical similarity between blood plasma and sea water.
If you don't want to make your own bath mixtures try our UNWIND Detox Bath Salts Formulated to detoxify your body, clear your mind and improve your skin texture.
Environment is everything, especially when it comes to getting the most out of your bath experience. Use your bath time as a chance to thoroughly nurture yourself. Light some candles (make sure they are non-toxic - Paw Melts Home Collection). Play your favorite music. Place a tray of goodies by the side of the tub- blueberries, strawberries, organic dark chocolate, a glass of water with mint, lemon or cucumber, are examples of healthier choices. Now, close the door and breath deeply as you slide into the warm water for total relaxation experience. Most importantly, be present.
Research has proven that what we take in through our sense (taste, sight, feel, taste, hearing, and olfactory) can affect our moods. Depression is often defined as a dulling of the senses.Use your bath time to liven your senses in a relaxed way, and fight depression at the same time.
Make your bath “sacred time” reserved just for you. Turn off your cellphone, computer, and all electronic gadgets that may beep and buzz for your attention. Note: if you are using your cellphone for music, you can put it on “airplane mode” and still access the music you have on your phone’s internal drive. Let others in your household know that you will be “unavailable” for a half hour to an hour or so and remember to take care of all your chores (like letting the dog out) beforehand so that you can completely unplug and enjoy.
Consider doing a “total-immersion” bath. Simply fill your bathtub as high as it will go with warm to semi-hot filtered water (up to about 104 F). Completely submerse yourself in the water for 20-30 minutes.
Body Brushing takes your bath experience to the next level, if healing is your ultimate goal. The relaxing sensation in itself can lead to healing through the lowering of cortisol levels, and the body temperature-raising effect (as mentioned above) will add to this as well.
You can use a Jute Brush for the dry bush experience or Loufa Brush while bathing. The circular motion by which you rub your skin, energizes your body, releases stress and anxiety, increases blood flow, encouraging cell production, stimulates your lymphatic system as it speeds the flow of toxins out of your body and allows your skin to easily absorb nutrients not to mention gives your skin a healthy glow
Finally, after your bath, wrap yourself from head to toe in a large towel or blanket. Lay down and rest for about fifteen minutes. The warmth from your body will stay in your skin longer and the sweating that will occur will add to your overall detox. Before and after your immersion bath, be sure you drink plenty of clean filtered water or a herbal tea.
Stress has been connected to too many ailments to name. Taking a relaxing bath immediately calms stress responses, promoting rest, conserving energy, and balancing all systems of the body. Enjoy your bathing experience!
Do you have a favorite bath ritual? If so we would love to hear from you.
Please exercise caution and remember: whilst sea salt baths have a positive effect, they may be demanding on your circulatory system if you suffer from heart conditions.
We recommend you always consult your medical doctor or other registered health care practitioner before taking sea salt baths, especially if you have a diagnosed medical condition or suffer from ill health.
Reference : http://www.medicaldaily.com/brief-history-bathing-importance-hygiene-ancient-romes-sophisticated-showers-modern-364826
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