December 2007 Issue

Fresh Pine Needle Bath

The Japanese have long revered the enchanted "Matsu" or Pine.  They believe that it holds the ability to renew your spirit, ease stiffness, and bring harmony and balance to the body. During snowy winters taoists observed that the only plants which showed signs of vitality were evergreens such as pines and  therefore became a symbol of longevity. A potent antioxidant in pine called pycnogenol protects endothelial cells (which make up the lining of the blood vessels and heart) from free radical damage and serves as an anti-inflammatory, and preserves healthy skin structure. It is one of the few antioxidants that cross the blood-brain barrier, protecting brain cells from the ravages of free radicals in the blood.

This special bath is said to  remove mental negativity, purify the mind and calm the senses. It also serves to reduce the discomforts of joint pain,
helps in soothing aches from neuralgia and rheumatism and reduce overall soreness. Due to the warming qualities of pine, it will stimulate circulation and invigorate, so it is best to take it as a morning bath.  In addition, it aids skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and open sores. It has long been practiced by geisha women  to refresh and tone their skin and was thought to be the most auspicious bath to welcome in the New Year.

Instructions for drawing your pine bath:

  1. Gather several large handfuls of fresh pine needles
  2. Boil them in a large pot of water for 10 minutes
  3. Stain with cheesecloth into another pot, retaining the pine water
  4. Add the pine water directly to a warm bath (I like it hot!)
  5. Before entering, Tie cheesecloth with pine needles inside and throw into the bath.
  6. Soak for 30-45 minutes, breathing in the wonderful aroma of pine
  7. Do not rinse, let the oils stay on your skin throughout the day!
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