My first experience of a seaweed bath was about ten years ago in Enniscrone. After a long walk on the fabulous sandy beach, my husband took me along to Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths. Although Stephen had been raving about these baths for quite some time, he didn’t give away too much detail so I was a little bit unsure of what to expect. As I am a lover of the sea and all that goes with it, Stephen was quite certain that I would fall in love instantly with the seaweed baths. And he was right – I did fall in love with them!
A full hour of being immersed in hot oily sea water, with soft silky seaweed enveloping me is medicine for my soul. The fresh salty scent takes my mind to the middle of the ocean where I imagine that I’m part of the wonderful and mysterious undersea world. The faint hum of voices and traffic coming from the street outside fades further away into the distance, as I relax deeper into my cosy little water haven. I visualise my pores absorbing all the natural minerals and vitamins that the seaweed contains, nourishing tired cells, cleansing and detoxing.
Because the heat of the water and the steam releases the natural oils in the seaweed, it leaves my skin feeling so soft and smooth after the bath. Ideally, I should pull the cold shower chain before stepping out as this closes the pores but, I just can’t! I can manage a dip in the cold sea even though it takes me about twenty minutes to inch my way in (on a good day) and yes, it’s always worth the initial discomfort but for me a cold shower is pure torture. Stephen has no problem pulling the cold shower chain – he loves it! I’m shivering just thinking about it. Anyway, I’m sure I benefit just as well without it because for the rest of the day, I feel refreshed, relaxed and free from any muscular tension. And a seaweed bath is usually followed by a good nights sleep!
Kilcullen’s seaweed baths first opened in 1912 and it still maintains the original massive porcelain baths with their solid brass taps. It is these Edwardian fittings and authentic surroundings that give Kilcullen’s Bath House it’s unique and welcoming atmosphere. It is worth noting that not all bath houses have their water pumped fresh from the sea, like Kilcullen’s. As soon as you step into your bath, you feel deserving of this much desired hour of peace and tranquility!
Bathing in seaweed was a common practice in Ireland centuries ago and it has become quite fashionable again in recent years. With an hour or so of uninterrupted relaxation being the main focus of many seaweed bathers, lots of people use them to help treat many health conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, fungal infections, skins conditions such as acne, dermatitis and eczema. And also just general aches and pains.
Seaweed is rich in iodine and other minerals such as zinc, calcium and potassium – all of which are easily absorbed by the body. We Irish people don’t get enough iodine from our diet and have low levels of it in our bodies compared to our fellow Europeans. Iodine is an essential element that is required by humans and all living matter. It is rare in much of our soil but is abundant in the sea.
Last summer while visiting Westport, I called into a charming little holistic gift shop called Amber. I got chatting to the lady in charge and the conversation turned to my young daughters eczema. She recommended a seaweed bath and she gave me a little bag of powdered seaweed to try. When we got back home I left it somewhere ‘safe’ and completely forgot about it. A couple of months ago we were decluttering and I came across the little bag of dark green powder. And so Lucy had her first ever seaweed bath. Because of the dark colour and the strong weedy smell, she wasn’t too keen to get in. So I got in with her and we pretended to be mermaids. She was Ariel and of course I had to be Ursula, the evil seawitch. We had great fun and ever since then Lucy has a seaweed bath four or five times a week. It hasn’t cured her eczema, as her diet plays an important role in maintaining the condition of her skin, but it does nourish and help moisturise it and usually (but not always) she sleeps so much better afterwards.
My hunt for powdered seaweed was not as easy as I thought it would be! Some health shops and chemists had never heard of it and others simply couldn’t get it. I eventually resorted to the internet and managed to get a 200g tub of Green Angel for €25 inc postage. Quite expensive when you need to use it three or four times a week. But as they say, it pays to shop around and when I was back in Bailieborough I checked the local chemist, Jamesons and they ordered me a 365g tub of Cara Bay for less than €5.79. Happy Days! It smells amazing – if you like the smell of the sea that is!
I have also used the dried seaweed at home. It comes in a netted bag and it softens by first putting it into a bowl/bucket of very hot water before adding it to the bath. It costs about €10 and it can be re-used once – but personally I don’t feel it has the same effect the second time round. But it is lovely combined with some seasalt or epsom salts for occasional use. But for us, the powdered version is better value.
So, if it’s not practical for you to visit a bath house such as Kilcullen’s, get yourself a seaweed brick (Jamesons can get this for you too) or a tub of Cara Bay and add it to your list of ‘Things to do for Me’. ♥
How to get the most out of your Home Seaweed Bath
- Make it clear to everyone in the home that the bathroom is yours tonight and you are not available for anything after 9pm. (or whatever time suits you)
- Put nice fresh clean sheets on your bed to help with a good nights sleep.
- Choose your favourite fluffiest towel and have it ready and waiting for when you’re done.
- More than half fill the bath with water until the temperature is comfortable. Make sure it’s not too hot.
- Then add your seaweed or if you’re using the powdered version, add two tablespoons to the bath.
- You can relax in silence or you can use your phone or any other battery powered device, to play some nice chilled out music. Here is a really nice one you can find on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkZio6yLAmU I like to play sounds of nature like crashing waves or flowing water! Whatever suits your mood.
- Lie in your bath with a rolled up towel supporting your head and neck.
- When you’re comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Take three deep breaths and as you inhale the fresh salty scent of the seaweed, imagine it’s pure natural goodness filling up every cell in your being. As you exhale, release any tension that you feel in any part of your body.
- Be aware of your breath slowing down and as it does, allow yourself to become more relaxed. Imagine that you’re bathing deep in the middle of the ocean. Warm and safe in your own little kingdom.
- Allow your mind to drift. Think of a happy time in your life and hold on to those feelings of happiness…..now take your happy thoughts to that warm safe place you have just created deep down in the ocean.
- When you feel ready to emerge from your little spa, make sure you get up slowly. Pat your skin dry with your fluffy towel and wrap up in your bathrobe.
- Sit for a while rather than going straight to bed after your bath. Drink a glass of water – not alcohol – to help with the elimination of toxins. (This is even more important if you added salts to your bath.)
- If at all possible, avoid stimulating your brain by spending time on your phone or other electronic devices. Remember…. this is ‘ME TIME’ for you!
- Enjoy a good nights sleep! And do let me know how you get on 🙂
Tip: If you don’t have a bath, you can have a seaweed footbath instead!
Because Lucy loves her seaweed baths, we decided to treat her (and ourselves) to a session in Kilcullens last weekend.