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
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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!