A Bath for Every Ailment: The Soaks That Cure Colds, Sore Muscles, and Beyond

A Bath for Every Ailment: The Soaks That Cure Colds, Sore Muscles, and Beyond

“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them,” Sylvia Plath wrote in The Bell Jar. Decades later, in parts of the world where water flows freely, her words still resonate. This is the time of year we sit on our bathtub’s ledge, reach for our faucets, settle the knobs at a temperature just below piping, and plug the drain. Whatever has coaxed us to the bath—a chill down the spine, a tickle in the throat, a muscular ache—the water, and what we add to it, is the secret to recovery.

The healing powers of a bath are rooted in the mere ritual of drawing one and the warmth of the water, both of which are near infallible solutions for “stress, muscle relaxation, and improving joint stiffness,” says the medical director of the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine, Tasneem Bhatia, M.D. From there, specific goals can be tailored to suit your needs, with beauty brands mixing up soaks that offer everything from a relaxing digital detox to a submersion de-bloating experience.

The key to the cure-all is choosing the right ingredients. For this, we asked Bhatia and Manhattan dermatologist Gervaise Gerstner to guide us through bath time’s most potent elixirs.

A Bad Cold

The Cure: Mustard

“This is taken right out of Ayurvedic medicine,” says Bhatia of the heating properties of mustard seeds, which are especially beneficial “if you’re sick, frail, cold, or suffer from thyroid issues.” Mustard is also believed to stimulate sweat glands, which in turn “stimulate circulation, opening up the lymphatic system,” to help you get over a sickness faster—to say nothing of the immediate nasal-clearing effects of its spicy scent.

Sore Muscles

The Cure: Salt

“The key ingredients here are magnesium and sulfate,” says Gerstner, which are ideal both postpartum and following especially tough workouts to calm sore muscles. “Sulfates help flush out toxins and magnesium decreases inflammation.” Magnesium is also a recognized mood stabilizer and, adds Bhatia, a digestive system stimulant.

Holiday Bloat

The Cure: Seaweed

Re-creating the therapeutic powers of ocean water, seaweed soaks transport the plant’s iodine, calcium, zinc, copper, and antioxidants to your skin. Aside from recalibrating your body’s mineral balance, Bhatia notes that seaweed also has a subtle tightening and toning effect on the body, boosting microcirculation to decrease bloating and cellulite. “This is why you see so many seaweed wraps on spa menus.”

Bathtubs by Virta

Acne and Breakouts

The Cure: Clay

Like its orally ingested counterparts, clay has a drawing-out effect that detoxifies, “literally pulling out impurities,” says Bhatia. And the clay’s ability to cool on contact also aids in heat-based skin rashes including psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

Seasonal Stress and Dry Skin

The Cure: Essential Oils

“I’m more comfortable using essential oils in a bathtub than right on the skin, which can be irritating,” says Gerstner, who turns to the relaxing aromatherapy effects of lavender or lemon for her own unwinding sessions. Meanwhile, the moisturizing benefits of the oil itself set to work hydrating dry and flaking skin.

A Dull Complexion

The Cure: Milk

The ancient Egyptian treatment has endured centuries of bathing rituals for its glow-inducing results. Explains Bhatia, “The lactic acid in the milk acts as a nice exfoliating mask to the skin.” Making it the perfect pre-party treatment for modern Cleopatras.


Bathroom Vanities by Virta

Source: https://www.vogue.com/13371550/best-bath-salt-soak-cold-season-aches-skin