ashley englishsmall measures

small measures with ashley: mustard baths & ginger tea

by Ashley

Image from Lynne Harty

There are few things that offer a more healing balm for the body, soul and mind than a hot bath and a warm mug of tea (well, a trip to Tahiti or a 2-hour massage might come close, but baths and tea are a bit more accessible). Step gingerly into the bath, sink into its hot, calming waters, and feel the weariness of whatever ails you slowly melt away. Clasp your hands around a toasty mug of tea, and watch your cares slip quietly into the shadows. Now that we’re deep in the clutches of winter, a hot bath and a cup of tea present a means of solace from the mad weather whipping around outdoors as well as a therapeutic solution to the nasties with which such climatic conditions assault our bodies.

Today’s Small Measures celebrates the mustard bath and ginger tea, two easy, affordable means of warming you up from within. An absolute salvation in winter, mustard baths are traditional English remedies used in the treatment of colds, stress, fatigued and achy muscles, fever and congestion. Mustard’s reported abilities to stimulate sweat glands and increase circulation in the body draw out impurities and toxins. These baths have been used for centuries, equally employed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as by Native Americans and practitioners of ayurvedic medicine. — Ashley

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

Renowned acupuncturist, osteopath, homeopathist and chef, Dr. Shyam Singha believed strongly in the use of mustard baths for health and wellness. The mustard bath recipe I’m offering today is modeled after his. Baking soda coupled with mustard powder (easily found in the spice section of most grocery stores) and stimulating essential oils yield a product that is as detoxifying as it is invigorating (not to mention antiseptic, thanks to properties found in the essential oils). While a long soak in the bath is suggested, if you’re short on time (or want to save water and cut down on your heating bill), a mustard foot bath works just as well.

Warming Mustard Bath
Yields enough for 4 baths


  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup mustard powder
  • 6 drops wintergreen essential oil
  • 6 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil


1. Using a whisk, combine all ingredients together in a lidded container.

2. When ready to use, add around 4 tablespoons of powder to a running bath. Swish the water around with your hands to disperse it. Soak for as long as you are comfortable, topping off with warmer water as needed.

For use as a foot bath, add 1 to 2 tablespoons to a foot-sized container filled with warm water. Soak for as long as you are comfortable, striving for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Ginger and honey tea also warms up frosty fingers and toes for nearly pennies. And, like the mustard bath, it offers up medicinal benefits, similarly increasing circulation. All cold and flu season long, whenever I feel the faintest tickle in the back of my throat, ache in my muscles or sniffle in my nose, I brew up a pot of this elixir. To date, I’ve yet to get a full-on cold, or the flu, in many, many years. My recipe (excerpted here from my forthcoming book, part of the Homemade Living series, Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need To Know To Tend Hives, Harvest Honey & More) is warming, nutritious and delicious.

Ginger & Honey Cold-Fighting Tea
Yields 32 ounces (2-4 servings)


  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2–4 tablespoons honey, to taste
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1–2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (optional)


1. Combine all ingredients in a ceramic teapot.

2. Stir and allow to steep for about 10 minutes. For a dose of added medicinal value, add fresh garlic to the tea. Strain off the liquid through a fine mesh sieve before use. Compost the solids.

3. Pour tea into mugs and enjoy.

What about you? Have any winter-warming suggestions that don’t involve cranking up the furnace? I’m also a big fan of warm socks and long wrap cardigans. Here’s wishing you a toasty today, tomorrow and thereafter!

Suggested For You


  • cayenne, lemon, garlic, honey i have been preaching for a long while. but mustard i was not aware! thanks for the tip! cant wait till the next soak.

  • I have never heard of a mustard bath. It sounds quite funny, but I’m always interested in natural remedies, especially those proven over centuries of use. Thanks for the idea and the recipe!

  • i am loving small measures! first avocado on my face and now mustard in my bath. next, mayo for hands. wait…that would probably be good! ha!

  • You can also use crystallised ginger instead of fresh. Let it steep in boiling water, strain, add sweetener and enjoy. Easier to keep on hand than fresh, unless you freeze the fresh. But the crystallised is easily stored in a tin in your cupboard.

  • FYI: The “read more” link worked for me but the “click here for the full post after the jump” part seems to be broken!

  • Loving this! I keep fresh ginger around all the time. Lately, I’ve been keeping warm with some wine!! Warms me right up :)

  • I knew I wasn’t crazy! :) I always make a pot of the ginger tea, with the added garlic when I am starting to get sick. I wasn’t following a recipe though, so I’m happy to see that it is legit. My husband always makes fun of me because he can’t come near me when I’m drinking it, something about the raw garlic breath :) That stuff is the best & tastes oh so good when you are sickish. Thanks for sharing!

  • I’ve read a bit on the leaching of even a stainless steel teapot into boiling water. Same with iron leaching into water from cast iron cookware. I would love to know what brand of a tea kettle you use to boil your water? I love when you provide links as to where you purchased your products as you did for the glass jars for homemade lip balm in Dec. 10′. I look forwrd to your writing every week! Thank you.

  • Love the idea of the mustard bath, cant wait to try. I love small measures too, it makes me feel like I live in the country when i really live in the city x

  • I’ll be trying both of these home remedies tonight, I need to fight this cold! Baking always warms me right up, something about all that mixing and kneading (and the oven being on) can help fight the chills.

  • Ginger baths are also very soothing. Take a hand-sized piece of ginger and slice it into thin 1/4-inch slabs diagonally. The idea is to create as much exposed surface area as possible. Place ginger in a pot of cold water, bring to boil and let steep for 20 minutes. Pour the hot brew into your regular bathwater. Then, the same soaking instructions as above.

  • I have ginger tea, made this way but without the garlic, almost every night. Now I’ll have to try it with the garlic!

  • Just a note to all those worried about keeping fresh ginger. If you peel the ginger and completely submerse it in water in an airtight container in the fridge it should keep for ages.

  • i recently learned the trick of adding cayenne to any pot of tea when it’s chilly, or especially when i’m starting to get a cold. it is AMAZING!

  • I’ve heard of mustard baths, but I’ve never seen a recipe before or really know what they were for. Really interesting & ginger tea just sounds tasty, as well as having the possible health benefits. Thank you for posting this informative article!

  • My mommy used to make me ginger tea in the winter! Her recipie is a little different. She boils chopped, peeled ginger, water and sugar into a simple syrup and keeps it in the fridge. When making the tea just mix the syrup to taste with boiling water and a squeeze of lemon. Now that I’ve read this version, I am going to try this with the cayenne pepper.

  • That bath sounds like a must try. I’ve never seen wintergreen essential oil at the store but I’m trying to imagine the combo right now.

  • Ginger tea is also a good chinese remedy for nausea. Simply chop the ginger into discs (the older and knobblier the better – and keep the skin on), then crush and submerge 5 pieces per cup in boiling water with a teaspoon of sugar.

  • emily-nope, not at all! turmeric, on the other hand, will, as a dear friend of mine once had the misfortune of discovering when she substituted it for mustard!

  • ooh yes, love this! We’re actually doing a feature all about tea and how soothing it is in our next issue of Spoonful, I think you will approve…

  • If you send out information e-mails, I would love to be on your list.

    Great Information!

  • I made the tea (w/out the garlic) and it was amazing. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical – ginger + cayenne pepper? And honey? But it was perfectly balanced and delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • I came across your post this weekend, fortuitously just as a cold was coming on. I was feeling pretty low – achey and without much energy so was happy to try both the tea and the mustard bath. I am very impressed by both. The tea was very soothing, and the bath quite amazing. It cured all my aches and this morning I woke up pain free and with no more cold symptoms! Definitely will keep both recipes for future reference. Many thanks!