With surprise blizzards and unexpected dropping temperatures all across the country and general, lingering, wintry “yuckiness” at what feels like an all-time high, a hot, steamy shower just became your home’s safest, warmest refuge this season. Take it to the next level with one simple, easy, fragrant step: Hanging a bouquet of eucalyptus in your shower.
Tying a handful of eucalyptus to your shower head not only makes your shower (not typically the most handsome area of anyone’s home) look and smell nicer—there might be some added health benefits. Studies have shown that the major component in eucalyptus oil has seriously impressive bacteria-killing power. Always a bonus in a bathroom. But don’t worry, the benefits don’t stop there. Authors of the study note: “Surprisingly for an antimicrobial substance, there are also immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and spasmolytic effects.” Translation? If you’ve gone extra hard at the gym and your muscles are feeling sore and crampy, eucalyptus might help you out. If you’re looking to give your immune system a boost or hoping to alleviate the symptoms of asthma or bronchitis, simply breathing in the vaporized eucalyptus oils can help open up your airways. In short, it’s a powerhouse plant that you don’t even need to ingest!
You can usually find heaps of eucalyptus branches at your local farmers market, but your local florist should always have some of them in stock. Simply use string, twine, or an elastic band to hang the eucalyptus branches upside down from your shower head, making sure that the leaves don’t fall directly under the water stream. Be warned if you need to trim your eucalyptus stems: the branches are pretty woody and sticky, so if you don’t have a strong pair of gardening shears you might be better served by breaking the branches first and then going in with your scissors. I’ve gotten more than one hand cramp from trying to cut eucalyptus, so be warned!
Get the most out of your eucalyptus each morning (or evening—night showerers unite!) by simply turning on your shower to its highest setting before you get in it. Forgo any fans or open doors to get a good steam going—this is a time when you want to trap all the humidity and warmth inside the room. Obviously you’ll want to turn the heat down to your comfort once you get in, but I’ve always found that a shower that’s a little bit hotter than normal tends to help with my chronically-stuffed-up sinuses. Some studies even claim that a hot bath or shower helps burn calories and might even help with blood sugar regulation, so unless your hot water heater is broken or you live in a town with a serious drought, there’s really no reason NOT to do this. All that heat and humidity in the air gets the molecule in the eucalyptus leaves’ oil active, creating an all-natural nebulizer of sorts.
These branches will be good for about a month before it starts to dry out and all the natural oils have done their work. But don’t worry: if you’re trying to live that #NoWasteLife, you can upcycle dried out eucalyptus branches into a permanent floral arrangement around your home.
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