How to Make an Herbal Sitz Bath

If you don’t know already, a sitz bath is a bath you can sit in, so it’s typically used for healing the perineum, anal area, and vulva. It can clean, soothe, and reduce inflammation or irritation of these areas in cases of hemorrhoids, perineal swelling, irritation or the anus or vulva, general uterine health, and postpartum recovery.

You can do a simple sitz bath with plain water, or some people add epsom salt, sea salt, and/or essential oils. I tend to prefer using brewed herbs to boost healing and gain the benefits of whichever botanicals are used.

If you’ve never used a sitz bath before there can be a bit of a learning curve to getting it right, especially when adding herbs into the mix, but it’s actually not that complicated. I’ll explain exactly how.

Set-up

Because of the name, many people assume a sitz bath is just a shallow bath that you sit in - and it can be! Especially if you have a bathtub and need quick relief, this is a great option.

The two main issues with the bathtub sitz bath method is making sure your bathtub is clean and it requires a lot more liquid, so if you’re using herbs then it uses them up much quicker. Luckily, many herbal options are still quite inexpensive, so even if you use more the price isn’t usually prohibitive.

What I usually recommend is getting an actual “sitz bath” which is a liquid reservoir that sits on the toilet. To use, lift the seat of your toilet and place the sitz bath over the base, add a few cups of whatever liquid you’re using, sit down and soak for 10-20 minutes. Clean your sitz bath with soap and water between each use, they are fairly easy to find at most drug stores.

When to use + when not to

In most cases you can use sitz baths when you’re in the healing phase after birth or with hemorrhoids/anal fissures, even if you have stitches or you are experiencing bleeding (except for menstrual bleeding.) Just make sure your tub or sitz bath is clean, rinse your anal, perineal, vulva area before soaking, and gently dry off afterwards. Also make sure your herbs are freshly brewed.

Do not use a sitz bath if you’ve been advised not to take baths, which is common after some pelvic procedures. It’s generally not advised to do a sitz bath during your period, but they can be used at any other point of the cycle or if you’re experiencing postpartum uterine bleeding.


Which herbs?

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One of the simplest options is red raspberry leaf. It’s a super gentle yet effective herb that is a mineral-rich uterine tonic and a skin soother. It’s a great choice if you have vulva irritation, irregular periods, or you’re healing post-birth.

Most women tend to think of using sitz baths after vaginal births only, but even with surgical births raspberry leaf is incredibly healing for the uterus, so sitz baths can still be effective - drinking it is advised too. To learn more, check out my post about the benefits of raspberry leaf tea.

Sitz bath herbal blends that are specifically formulated for healing hemorrhoids and perineal swelling are typically a bit stronger than just raspberry leaf alone, though that’s one of the common ingredients. Herbs like chamomile, calendula, sage, lady’s mantle, shepherd’s purse, witch hazel, uva ursi, and mugwort are more astringent and antiseptic that are also great for increasing circulation to pelvic area. They can speed up healing and reduce swelling in an area that is notoriously slow to heal. My Soothing Herbal Sitz Bath contains a blend of 10 healing herbs plus pink Himalayan salt which my patients love.

Dosage

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I usually recommend making a fairly strong infusion of 1/3 - 1/2 cup of herbs per 1 quart of water, it will get diluted by at least half during the sitz bath.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot, then cut the heat, add the herbs, cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes, then strain out the herbs and save the liquid. If you’d like to make a smaller batch brew 2 tablespoons of herbs per 1 cup of water.

You can make this ahead of time and save the liquid in a clean and well sealed jar in the fridge for up to one week, but it’s a good idea to keep it as fresh as possible to reduce risk of infection.

If you’re doing your sitz bath in a bathtub, then add the whole 1 quart batch of the herbal liquid into a shallow bath with a few inches of warm water. If you’re using a sitz bath on the toilet, then add 1 part herbal liquid per 1 part warm water to the reservoir, approximately 1-2 cups each. The water should be warm but not hot when you soak, test the temperature on your wrist to make sure it feels comfortable before sitting in it.