recipes 2 (5)

The Art of Herbal Hand + Foot Baths

When I first started really learning about herbs, I kept hearing a couple of my herbal teachers speak of an herbalist, Maurice Mességué, who was famous for using herbal hand and foot baths to address his clients’ concerns. I found the method intriguing because at the time, I hadn’t heard much about using foot baths therapeutically, so I picked up a couple of Maurice’s books. His autobiography is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read, and it really gave me an interest in using herbs this way. I immediately started experimenting with herbal hand and foot baths myself and they have since become one of my absolute favorite ways to use herbs. Today I’m sharing my go-to herbal foot bath recipe for when I’m feeling a bit yucky – a headache coming on, a touch of queasiness, or that overtired and overwhelmed feeling that sometimes hits at the end of a long day.

My Go-To Base Recipe - Equal Parts:

  • organic Calendula flowers
  • organic Lavender buds
  • organic Rose petals
  • organic Nettles
  • organic Chamomile flowers
  • organic Rosemary leaves

This blend is relaxing, refreshing, skin nourishing, and looks absolutely beautiful in the foot bath. Depending on what else I’m dealing with, I’ll also add some mix-ins.

Mix-In Options:

  • organic Lavender hydrosol
  • organic Feverfew leaf + flower (headache)
  • organic Skullcap leaf + flower (headache)
  • organic Passionflower leaf + flower (tension)
  • organic Yarrow leaf + flower (feeling sick)
  • organic Peppermint leaf (feeling nauseated)
  • organic Honeysuckle (dealing with an infection)
  • organic Eucalyptus leaves (dealing with an infection)


I start by putting the kettle on the stove so the water can get to a boil while I’m blending together the herbs I want to use. Use a large bowl so that the herb blend fills it only about 1/3 to halfway so the dried herbs have plenty of room to expand once they’re rehydrated.

Pour freshly boiled water into the heat-safe bowl until all of the plant material is covered, then cover the bowl with a plate to seal in the steam and let it steep this way for 10-15 minutes.

Pour the entire mixture into your foot bath basin (or whatever vessel you’re using – hand bath bowl or bathtub, etc.), then add in any hydrosols or other ingredients you plan to use.

Fill the remainder of the basin with enough hot water to cover your ankles once you’ve submerged your feet (or your wrists, if you’re bathing your hands).

Your Foot Bath

Place a towel on the floor before you set your basin down, just in case of spills and drips, then relax in a comfy chair. Soak your feet (or hands) in the foot bath for at least 8-10 minutes. I like to keep a small towel nearby so I can easily dry my feet when I’m through soaking them. (Tea stains, so use a dark colored towel or something that you won’t mind being stained by the infusion.)

Follow up the bath with an application of foot cream and a pair of cozy socks.

Have you ever experimented with herbal foot baths?

They’ve really become one of our favorite ways to enjoy herbs.

Much love,

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Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 150 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

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AromaCulture Magazine is filled with educational articles, case studies and recipes written by practicing herbalists and certified aromatherapists. New issues are published each month and issues are available individually or via subscription. Visit for more information.

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8 thoughts on “The Art of Herbal Hand + Foot Baths”

  1. Hi Erin – what would you use for deep body pain? I have fibro and am on my feet a lot on the weekends. Sometimes on Sunday I’m in so much pain I can barely stand when I get up the next morning after a craft event.

    I’m leaning toward peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender which is what I use for migraines. Do u have any other suggestions?


    1. Erin Stewart

      I think that the herbs you mentioned would be effective. =) I’ve used them when I’m in pain with a bit of Yarrow added and found that they help me tremendously.

  2. I love this idea. I was just looking at using foot baths for debilitated patients, but I think they would really benefit almost anyone, especially for stress.

  3. Melody Beswick

    Hi Erin,
    New here and really excited to have found you!
    I am wondering is there such a thing as an actual hand bath bowl, made especially for the hands, like the foot baths? I give myself an all natural manicure and have a problem with finding the right bowl to soak my hands in.
    Can’t wait to try these recipes, and I ordered two of Maurice’s books from the library. Looking forward to learning more from you.

    1. Erin Stewart

      Hi Melody! You know, I can’t say that I’ve ever come across a bowl specifically labeled as a hand bath. I usually just pick up wide, somewhat shallow bowls when I see them and use those. =)

      I hope you enjoy Maurice’s books! His autobiography is my favorite. It’s so entertaining. =D

      Much love,

  4. Pingback: Therapeutic Bathing with Aromatic Herbs, Aromatherapy Products, and Other Ingredients – Floranella

  5. Hello Erin! Thank you so much for your beautiful and informative posts. I soak my feet regularly and use Johnson’s Foot Soap in the water. Available at Walmart! But I like your idea much better and will try that next time. I want to compliment you on your descriptively thorough content and absolutely gorgeous photography. I know you’re a professional photographer and it really shows. We are all very fortunate to have you in our herbal world.

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