A bath to soothe the skin, which the herbalist makes every spring
Saint Basil: You’re no doubt familiar with basil, which comes in several varieties as an indispensable leaf in dishes from Thai Basil Chicken to Caprese Salad. But have you ever immersed your body in it? Research shows that topical application of basil can help soothe acne, moisturize skin, reduce roughness, and minimize the appearance of wrinkles. One variety, holy basil (Tonflower basil), has ancient history1 medicinal use in India, where it is used to relieve skin problems associated with inflammation. This is the variety I recommend for this seasonal bath, although any type of basil will work—use whatever you have available.
burdock: burdock (Paws of the Arctic) is a mineral-rich root that promotes proper excretion through the skin and other organs. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), burdock is used for blood detoxification2 and promote blood circulation on the surface of the skin. Its history of use in Western herbalism includes acne, boils, bruises, itching, and skin cancer. Burdock root has emollient properties that help relieve inflammation and irritation. Many Asian grocery stores carry burdock root. If you can’t find it there, look for dried burdock at a reputable herb retailer.
ginger: You may have used ginger (Zingiber medicinal) during cold and flu season to help improve circulation and avoid congestion. The same principles apply here, but we will use them for a different purpose. Ginger’s ability to improve blood circulation, aided by the warmth of the bath water itself, can cause us to sweat. From the sauna to the steam room, we know that sweating has long been a method of releasing toxins and cleansing the body.