Saturday 1 August 2015

Bathing like our ancients

Traditional woodlands life of the Algonquin people was largely absent of soap. Yet most of our elders still alive today do not remember body odor? What are we missing!?
What many teach is that the woodlands people were historically known as "The Doctors" of, nearly the entire continent. We would trade medicine with the great Iroquoian and Sioux tribes our well known compound medicines for some staple foods.

We held this title because we were the ones who lived in the forest with all the medicinal plants. We protected and harvested from the medicine hub of the continent known today as Manitoulin Island. Woodlands people were and are still today some of the most knowledgeable medicine keepers.
How did the woodlands people stay clean? Simple, bark baths and cedar baths. We would simply harvest bark during barking season (cedar can be harvested at anytime), and tap into it all winter by making giant pots of tea and have good ol basin/sponge baths. Today, the original context of use is completely gone! Today, we use bark baths to treat some of the worst of skin conditions. This means that the ancient way of a simple bath is now an intense treatment, how sick are we?!

Your body only cleans itself three ways: poop, pee and sweat (if your a woman, breast milk, however I do hope a baby is not at the receiving end of this detox.) Most of us are quite familiar with the first two but what about sweating? We dont seem to be doing much sweating these days, so here it is. Our lymphatic system is what our body uses to get rid of waste through sweating. What does cedar and these barks do? Purge it.
Let me help you understand just how crazy this is. Your lymphatic system is absolutely amazing, it  weaves in just about every blood capillary and its job is to collect waste from the blood and eject it via, your skin.  These bark baths completely purge the lymphatic system, giving your body the ability to collect even more waste from your blood and the trend of detox continues. A spotless lymphatic system means among other things; no body odor, you heal a million times faster from cuts, colds and leaky guts etc! Our bodies are meant to operate with a clean lymphatic system. Remember how fast infants and toddlers heal?

To make even more sense of it, all three barks used are extreme - almost uncomfortable - diaphoretics. They make you sweat. What these bark baths do is open every pore as large as they go and draw out the water from inside as fast as it can. This is literally pressure washing every pore on your body.

The most extensively used barks are Alder, Trembling Aspen and Willow. This combination is a powerhouse for purging the lymphatic system of build-up, relief from lymphatic blockages, studies even suggest that this combination has what your body needs to rebuild lymphatic tissue called lymphoid tissue genesis.
Some intense studies have been done on these bark baths and their extremely fascinating benefit to sufferers of skin cancers, eczema, worms, lupus, measels, acne, cold sores, psoriasis, rosacea, warts, cellulitis, ageing, carbuncles, ulcers, fungus's, diaper rashs, and last but not least, shingles.
This is by far one of the most successful baths I have ever seen and am thoroughly thankful that I have been given the knowledge and the resources to be able to harvest and re-create this ancient woodlands way of bathing it and offer it to some of the most wonderful people needlessly suffering these terrible conditions.
Let's take a deeper look into some of the specifics of each bark bath ingredient.


The type of poplar used is trembling aspen. This tree is not unlike any other tree on the planet, it has one specific medicinal use and it has been created to show you what that use is. I really want you to test this one! If you stand outside on any day, and observe all the different trees, from a distance or up close you will begin to notice dramatic differences between the lot. The most striking for most is movement. It is how oak leaves do not flutter in the breeze and a strong gust wont even budge the branches, it is completely still. Whereas a brisk breeze rocks maple branches, but the leaves will not flutter. Wind will send ash trunks into a wave but the massive compound leaves, though droopy, barely rock back and forth. 
Then something amazing happens when you look over at trembling aspen, suddenly its name will make the most sense. The slightest breeze to this sometimes massive tree will send thousands upon thousands of leaves into a fluttering frenzy. The leaves, vibrant with a bright green top and an almost silvery bottom flickering against the bright blue sky, in addition to the sound of the leaves flapping against the branchlets mimicking the sound of waves white capping over a sandy beach. Trembling aspens signature feature is blatantly clear when paid even the slightest of attention. Trembling aspen calms. 
Why is this added to the bark bath? What do warts, rashes, eczema, skin cancer, ulcers, carbuncles, psoriasis and other related skin conditions have in common? Agitation. Poplars job is to come in and calm everything down, rid of inflammation around dermal tissues. With that inflammation gone our bodies can now fix the issues at hand.

Alder and cedar are one of the most amazing skin medicines. This is what I believe is most responsible for the long term healing. This bark and these leaves I clump together because their mechanism of action is very similar, they can be used together or separate.

These two powerhouses dilate every pore they touche and draw out water from the deepest depths of your body. Stimulating your lymphatic system. The most incredible system designed to eliminate bodily waste via sweat.

The lymphatic system weaves in every blood capillary and pulls waste from your blood and ejects it out of your skin. A lot of skin issues like rashes and lesions are due to the lymphatic system eliminating something that irritates your skin.

The lymphatic system is very sensitive to damage. It needs quite a few things to maintain itself, to be able to repair damage that has been done. One of the most important processes involved is called lymphoid tissue genesis. Cedar and alder bark throw this process through the roof repairing your lymphatic system so quickly making your body more efficient at eliminating waste and not letting it build up.

Red Oiser Dogwood/Willow
Red Oiser Dogwood, most often called red willow, and shrub willows are put in this bath to relieve inflammation and pain. 
Inflammation blocks normal function, especially wrong inflammation. In regard to bathing and lymphatic system and curing skin issues, inflammation blocks your lymphatic system, literally pinching it not allowing toxic waste out, sometimes letting it sit near the surface of the skin wreaking havoc, causing the worst of rashes. Willows and Red Oiser Dogwood relieve that inflammation allowing the flow out of your skin. All of this also happens with a lot less pain because both willow and red oiser have some of the most amazing pain relieving compounds, salicin for willow and verbenalin for red oiser. 


  1. Hey Joseph
    I just saw karolyne Newby who was just at your last lecture. I am in Peterborough and would like to work with You and your woodland magic. Iam 63...mildly diabetic with some leg pains and IBS . I run a healing centre in my backyard.(for decades) My number is 647 457 2911. also on facebook. Looking forward to arranging a clinical appointment with You. Blessings, Lilli Swanson.

  2. can you drink this as tea? or is it only meant as bath?

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