Therapeutic bath and body products help keep your aches, pains, stress and colds at bay
By Adriana Ermter
We’re Canadians, we wait for it: springtime, the beginning of new life, with flowers and leaves budding on the trees. It’s the first sign that winter’s frosty weather is finally dissipating, leaving fresh air, warm breezes and sunshine in its wake. Our vitamin D levels start to rejuvenate; we’re spending more time outside in the sun; we’ve ditched the heavy layers of outerwear and replaced them with lighter jackets…and we no longer feel like hibernating bears, sleeping our way to better days. So why do we feel so crappy, with a body that aches, and joints that feel painful during spin class, and sneezing and stress that seems to have sadly become a part of our daily routine? Take heart: it doesn’t have to be like this. Not when you use bath and body products with therapeutic scents to stay active and healthy.
“Essential-oil-based products proactively support your immune system,” affirms Jean-Pierre LeBlanc, co-founder of Saje Natural Wellness in Vancouver. “The more you use in a day, the more effective you are at fighting viruses and harmful bacteria.”
Consider them your feel-good, alternative health options.
Essential oils can have a positive effect mentally, physically and emotionally. While technically they aren’t oils (since they don’t contain fatty acids), essential oils are touted as a natural healing agent thanks to their highly concentrated plant components. Their scents go beyond smelling pretty or soothing or just plain nice; proponents argue that they actually help you relax, stabilize your mood and sleep, release toxins and pain, and improve your overall well-being.
“Many essential oils are adaptogenic, meaning they can adapt to manage the body’s hormonal response to stress,” explains LeBlanc. “For example, lavender will calm you if you’re stressed, but pick you up if you’re feeling low. They deliver a broad range of benefits depending on what you need.”
An important element of this aromatherapy is its synergy, so it’s important to know which combination of oils to use to create a powerful effect on your body and mind. The second part of the equation is knowing which type of bath or body product containing the oils will assist in combatting the unwanted aches, pains and blah moments, and why.
Bath and body products (such as bath salts, body balms, diffuser oil blends and body oils) are therapeutic because they are based on 100 per cent natural essential oils such as herbs, grasses, barks, flowers and roots that have been distilled to be highly concentrated. “We consider essential oils to be nature’s life force; they capture the powerful healing qualities of the plants from which they are derived,” says LeBlanc. “When applying or breathing in essential oils, the oils trigger the limbic system [the part of the brain that’s concerned with emotion and motivation] and shift hormonal balances and moods to deliver therapeutic benefits.”
To kick-start your immune system and boost your mental, physical and emotional state, breathing in detoxifying, invigorating, energy-boosting scents like eucalyptus, peppermint, clary sage and lavender will do the trick. “They help our immune system to be strong and to deal with the myriad chemicals that we encounter in our everyday lives,” explains LeBlanc. “Specific blends can address specific conditions so that you can feel more relaxed and get a better sleep, or strengthen your immune system so you have better resistance to colds or have more energy, or feel more calm when dealing with stressful times at home or at work.”
Applied directly to the skin, these products can ease tense muscles, soothe your mind and even heal minor injuries. That’s all courtesy of ingredients like lavender and clary sage, found in Aveda’s Stress-Fix Composition Oil or Concentrate Oil ($30 and $24 respectively, available at Aveda stores across Canada); and moringa plant, frankincense and arnica, found in Soap Walla’s The Balm ($64, available at soapwallakitchen.com).
If you need to relieve pain and muscle cramps, boost your energy levels or ease inflammation, try soaking in a hot bath replete with bath salts or breathing in a diffusing mist of essential oil: either is beneficial in treating sore joints and muscles, bronchial asthma, respiratory issues and low energy. The ideal ingredients include ginger, lavender & honey, found in Calgon’s Hawaiian Ginger and Lavender & Honey Therapy Soak Epsom Salts ($9 each, available at Shoppers Drug Mart); and peppermint, rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus and tea tree, found in Saje’s After the Rain, Energy Boost and Immune diffuser oils (from $15 each, available at Saje stores across Canada).
“Natural remedies help support wellness by activating the parts of the body that can deliver natural healing and wellness,” says LeBlanc.
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.