As women, we hear it all the time from our sisters, friends, teenaged daughters – “its that time of the month again”, which for many women brings along with it a slew of not-so-comfortable PMS symptoms. My favorite way to help women get a handle on this time of the month is to have them take a hot bath with a secret ingredient… I will get to that in a moment.
If you are one of the many women that suffer from PMS, consider taking a bath – a therapeutic bath. Why? Baths allow for quiet time to relax, let go of the day’s stress, provide physical and emotional rejuvenation, and with my special addition, can provide relief from some of the pesky symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
PMS – How to Find Some Relief
PMS can be physically uncomfortable- symptoms ranging from menstrual (sometimes debilitating) cramps, bloating, acne and headaches – indicative of a hormone imbalance.
PMS also presents itself emotionally. Emotional symptoms of PMS can be anxiety, depression, sadness and even rage. Some healers believe the emotional manifestations of PMS may be a result of a woman’s subconscious view of her menstrual cycle and perhaps herself as a woman. In modern-day society menstruation is often viewed as a nuisance rather than as a right of passage or a sacred event defining womanhood.
What most women don’t realize is that PMS does not have to overtake their world prior to menstruation. In addition to eating a clean, whole food Fertility Diet, consider the tips in our article PMS: 5 Natural Ways to Feel Better Now and take a daily bath!
Therapeutic Bath Salts for PMS
Epsom Salt – Epsom salt is actually not a salt. It’s the naturally-occurring mineral magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate from epsom salt is easily absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is a mineral that delivers incredible benefits ranging from regulating the activity of hundreds of enzymes in the body and reducing inflammation, to supporting muscle and nerve function. Sulfates also have therapeutic benefits. They have been found to help improve the absorption of nutrients within the body, support the body’s natural ability to remove toxins and may help ease migraine headaches.
Lavender flower and essential oil (Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula angustifolia) – Lavender is a nervine, antidepressant, circulatory and immune-system stimulant, and a balancing herb for all body systems. It is calming and many find it helpful for emotional upset, mood swings, nervous tension and depression, tension headaches and sleep difficulties associated with PMS, and hormonal imbalance.
Chamomile flower (Matricaria recutita) – Chamomile is a nervine and anti-inflammatory herb for the ill-tempered, touchy, impatient, nervous kind who may also experience sensitivity to pain. It is often also used for neuralgia (nerve pain).
- Note: Do not use if allergic to chamomile or other daisy- family plants – Asteraceae family (chamomile may cause contact dermatitis in those allergic to plants in this family).
Clary Sage Essential Oil (Salvia sclaria) – Clary Sage essential oil is an antidepressant, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, bactericidal, digestive, emmenagogue, euphoric, nervine, sedative and uterine tonic. Whew! It has been found to be supportive of reducing menstrual cramps, depression and anxiety, boosting libido, and is said to also have estrogenic effects that may support menstrual cycle regulation.
- Note: Clary Sage should be avoided during pregnancy. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before, during or after using this oil.
Craft Your Own PMS Bath Salts
Feel free to experiment with the quantities of herbs and combination of essential oils to tailor the bath to your liking!
- 1 part Epsom Salt*
- ⅛ part Lavender flowers
- ⅛ part Chamomile flowers
- 8-10 drops Clary Sage essential oil
- 3-5 drops Lavender essential oil
- 1. Fill a 1 gallon pot with water and add the dried herbs. Bring this to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep for another 15 minutes. Strain off herbs (you’ll be left with a strong tea).
2. In a small glass bowl or measuring cup, measure Epsom Salt and drop in essential oils, mixing gently.
3. Draw a very warm bath – as hot as you can handle.
4. Once the bath is ready, add the tea and Epsom Salt and essential oil mixture, step into the bath, agitate gently with your hands or feet, sit down and relax for 15-30 minutes.
Alternative method: combine all ingredients, pour into a piece of cheesecloth or large pre-made tea bag and fasten to the water nozzle of your tub letting the hot water flow through as it fills the tub.
Hot water opens the pores and allows the herbs volatile oils and medicinal properties to be dispersed throughout the body. “…it’s like emerging your entire body in a giant cup of tea.” ~ Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar
*I have found that many Epsom Salt brands and therapeutic Epsom salt bath recipes suggest using 1-2 cups Epsom salt per 1 gallon of water. In general, for a healthy adult, as much as 2 cups Epsom Salt can be added to a bath of full hot water. Start with ½ – 1 cup and increase if desired.
1. Alfs, M. (2003). 300 herbs: Their indications & contraindications, a materia medica & repertory, with insights from American Eclectic Medicine, Physio-medicalism, Thomsonianism, Appalachian Folk-Herbalism, Native-American plant medicine, Curanderismo, modern Western phytotherapy, European herbal traditions, Unani Tipp, Traditional Chinese Medicine, & Ayurvedic medicine – a manual for herbal students and practitioners. New Brighton, MN: Old Theology Book House.
2. Barton, D. (n.d.). Aromatherapy for Fertility. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://natural-fertility-info.com/aromatherapy-fertility.html
3. Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from http://www.saltworks.us/salt_info/epsom-uses-benefits.asp
4. Gladstar, R. (1993). Menstrual Problems: Cramps, Light or Heavy Bleeding, PMS, and Endometriosis. In Herbal healing for women: Simple home remedies for women of all ages (pp. 124-128). New York: Simon & Schuster.