Turning your home bathroom into a spa can be a lot simpler than you realize – as simple as running water in your tub or shower!

Since the earliest civilizations, humans have used to hydrotherapy (also called hydropathy) to treat a wide manner of maladies and generally boost wellbeing. From the public baths of ancient Rome, to the centuries-long popularity of Bath, England, mineral rich waters, or simply the alternating use of hot and cold water (contrast therapy), have been employed to support wellness. Hydrotherapy is known to stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which results in improved blood flow and more efficient elimination of toxins. Contrast therapy is particularly noted to boost lymph function.[1]

For some, a simple soak in the tub may be all they need to increase relaxation. You can naturally balance your skin’s pH levels by adding one to two cups of apple cider vinegar to your bath and soak away your stress while softening your skin. Or, add magnesium and sulfate-rich Epsom salts to the tub to enjoy improved nutrient absorption, protein production and nerve function, among other benefits.

You can enhance the experience with 5-10 drops of essential oils, emulsified with milk, salt or sesame oil to ensure absorption. (Without an emulsifier, the oils tend to simply float on the surface of, rather than infuse, the water.) Lavender, sandalwood, and patchouli are just a few of the essential oils with calming properties, though each can apply to distinct health complaints. (The study of oils and aromatherapy is fascinating, broad and beyond the scope of this article – check out more information on the net!)

If you’re not feeling well, try tea tree oil, a real powerhouse. Antimicrobial, antiseptic, and antiviral, it’s a great choice to treat respiratory concerns, colds, and viruses, as well as topical skin issues like dermatitis and acne.

When you don’t have time for a long soak, you can stimulate your internal systems and your skin with this simple hydrotherapy routine. First, on dry skin, massage an essential oil sugar scrub (recipe below), beginning at the end of each leg, then each arm, working towards the heart. Continue to massage the scrub on neck and shoulders, then derriere and lower back, in the direction of your heart. Massage your stomach counter-clockwise to maintain sync with the natural intestinal flow, rather than using heart-directed strokes. Now, rinse off under water as hot as comfortable, focusing attention on any muscles or areas that feel sore. When all the sugar has been washed away, switch to the coldest water you can tolerate for a final rinse and voila! Your skin is fragrant and soft – no moisturizer needed – and you should be feeling both invigorated and pampered.

Simple Sugar Scrub Recipe


1 cup carrier oil meant for topical use, such as grapeseed (light oils work better unless you have especially dry skin, in which case you might consider olive or avocado oils)

¾ cup sugar (the more finely processed, the gentler on skin, though it must still be in granule form – no caster)

up to 20 drops of essential oil/s

Select the essential oils or oil combination that work for you (comforting, invigorating, sweet, musky, etc). Have fun experimenting! Add the essential oils to the carrier oil and mix well.

In a plastic container with a screwtop lid, slowly add the oil mixture to the sugar, mixing well. You may need to add only half, mix well, and then add the balance. Be sure to have mixed the oil thoroughly so that every piece of sugar is covered. (Separation will occur later, and that’s okay.)

This is a very general recipe for you to adjust as suits you best. Some may prefer a higher or lower ratio of sugar to oil, or carrier oil to essential oil. Please also always do a skin test patch of your scrub – we don’t always know what our skin will and will not like!

[1] http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/lymphoma