A sauna is a spa or health treatment used to soothe muscles, relax and detoxify the body. During a sauna, the treatment room is filled with either dry or wet heat created by steam or infrared devices. To add to its healing benefits, you may use aromatic or healing herbs. Herbs can be used to infuse the air or brush the skin.
Herbs such as peppermint, camphor and eucalyptus can be used to infuse the sauna and increase its beneficial effects. When inhaled, these herbs are decongestants, anti-inflammatory and stimulate circulation. If you are using a steam sauna, pour a few drops of strong herbal tea or essential oil directly onto the hot rocks. For dry heat systems, pour the oil or tea into a shallow pan of water and place onto the sauna heating element.
If you are using the sauna to relax and unwind, adding an aromatic oil can help to soothe your body and mind. Choose jasmine, rosemary, chamomile or lavender to ease anxiety, treat panic attacks and calm your stresses. Aromatic herbs can be added in tea or essential oil form to the sauna in the same manner as the healing herbs.
In some regions, saunas are accompanied by a gentle skin lashing using a herbal bundle. The Finnish term for this bundle is "vihta." A vihta is typically created using tender, young birch branches, though eucalyptus or mint also may be used. The herbs are bundled together, soaked in warm water and used to whisk the skin. The whisking is said to help assist in ridding the body of toxins through the skin.