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A beautiful warm soak in a bath does much more than just make you feel good. In ancient times baths were used to treat a myriad of ailments, and so it is today. The warm water stimulates blood circulation, as well as speeding the delivery of healing nutrients to the body and removing waste products, such as lactic acid, that contribute to muscle soreness. A hot bath can even temporarily boost metabolism, resulting in the burning of a few extra kilojoules.

Basin baths You don’t need to immerse your entire body in a bath to get its therapeutic benefits. A sitz bath or a foot bath is perfect for relieving headaches, haemorrhoids, and sore feet. For headaches, add a small amount of mustard powder to a basin of warm water and soak your feet. This boosts circulation, relieving pressure on the blood vessels in the head. For haemorrhoids, add a handful of Epsom salts to the water and sit in it. As a foot soak, add 3 drops of peppermint oil combined with 4 drops of rosemary oil.

End the itching Place a cup of rolled oats into an old stocking, knot the top, and float it in the bath water while you soak. This 'oat ball' can be used instead of soap by those with eczema. Careful, though, as this will make the tub very slippery.

Aches and pains Adding 2 cups of Epsom salts to the bath can provide rapid relief, by drawing fluid from the body and helping to shrink swollen tissue.

Adding essential oils After a long hard day, a few drops of essential oil added to the bath water can be wonderfully therapeutic. Rosemary stimulates memory, geranium reduces anxiety, lavender fights depression, and eucalyptus breaks up congestion.

If you have dried herbs on hand instead of essential oils, you can use them instead. To get their benefits, wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth and hold under the running water as the bath is filling. Soak and enjoy!

Toni Green is a Launceston-based naturopath, herbalist and health writer. It is her passion to pass on this knowledge of natural therapies to others so that they might live a stress-free life with health and vitality. Toni can be contacted at www.naturalhealthsolutions.net.au, toni.green57@iinet.net.au, or 0431 716 601.