Cleopatra’s Secret to Success

Image: Rare mosaic etching by IREL

Cleaopatra’s Secret to Success: Fermented Milk Baths

I was recently listening to an Ayurvedic practitioner speaking about how this ancient healing system understands skin as having two components. There is the interior skin, which consists of your gut tube which includes the inside of your mouth and other mucous membranes, then there is your exterior skin, which is skin as we know it that covers your body. The place where these two skins meet is where your inner lips begin and at the interior corners of your mouth in particular.

Milk & Honey Bath with Myrrh and Rose Petal. Cleopatra bath recipe from

This understanding of the skin struck me as very valuable. The inner skin is incredibly sensitive, the epithelial layer of cells is very thin and has to both absorb your nutrients through the digestive process as well as to form a barrier to keep out toxins, pathogenic micro-organisms and more. Since these two skins are continuous, your outer skin reflects what is happening with your inner skin. If you have lesions, rashes, ulcers and pimples on your outer skin, your internal skin is also having these problems. These two skins are also both coated with an intimate layer of bio-films which cutting edge research is currently unveiling. These bio-films can be made up of pathogenic micro-organisms such as Candida yeasts and Clostridia bacteria, or they can be made up of probiotic micro-organisms that not only protect you from all kinds of insults from chemicals, heavy metals, electromagnetic frequencies, viruses and more, but also help to manufacture beneficial vitamins (especially B and K) and assist with absorption of nutrients.

There is also a new understanding of our brains and skin resulting from new understanding of cells and research being done into epigenetics, connective tissue, microbiology and neurology. Bruce Liption is one of the leaders in this area with his understanding of the membrane of cells as being the brain of the cell–the sensing and reacting aspect–rather then the DNA. As he says, if you remove the nucleus of a cell the cell continues to live, but if you remove the membrane it dies. The DNA’s function is reproduction. Modern research into connective tissue reveals that it is actually a liquid crystalline substance which is capable of much more than simply connecting muscle to bone. It is the intelligent living matrix of the body. The skin originates from the same embryonic cells the nervous system originates from, it also is highly sensitive–detecting and responding to all kinds of environmental signals. This process is assisted or hampered by the micro-organisms that colonise the skin, both internally and externally.

After being on the Specific Carbohydrate or GAPS diet for the past couple years with my focus on repopulating my gut with beneficial micro-organisms through consuming high quantities of fermented foods, it has become clearer to me how important the beneficial microbes are for interacting with the external environment. Since they assist this process by facilitating absorption of nutrients for optimal nervous system functioning, mood improves and you have a tendency to see the cup half full instead of half empty. You also gain mental resiliency, brain functions like memory improve, eye sight, hearing and taste improve and synapses are able to make connections that may have otherwise calcified.

Cleopatra is renowned for being an incredibly beautiful woman, many people put this down to her habit of bathing in fermented mares’ milk and modern research has discovered the benefits of lactic acid on cleansing skin and smoothing wrinkles. One thing that is not generally stressed when mentioning Cleopatra is that she was also a brilliant strategist on many levels. With our recent understanding of the importance of beneficial micro-organisms in brain and nervous system functions, perhaps this is another reasons that Cleopatra took the time for a daily soak in a tub of fermented milk and honey.

Over the past couple years regular bathing has been my life-saver, my liver and kidneys are not so hot at removing toxins from my body so I have had to rely on my skin to help with this process while they recover. My body, after being infested with a toxic mold and then getting typhoid, was full of dangerous micro-organisms constantly pumping toxins into my system. Epsom salt baths helped to remove these toxins through my skin, greatly assisting my healing process.

I have found that adding a cup or so of homemade yogurt or kefir from raw enzymatic-rich milk to the bath along with a half cup of honey and some essential oils is a very practical and necessary method to assist the re-population of my exterior skin with beneficial probiotics. I have found that this naturally assists all the effort I put into cultivating the beneficial flora of my internal skin (my digestive tract, mouth, etc). In our modern world our skin (both external and internal) gets such a pummelling from all of the man-made toxins that there isn’t enough we can do to protect it. One of the best things we can do to boost immunity, prevent cancer and other illness as well as to delay the aging process is to get to know the micro-organisms that assist us on a daily basis. (See this article on using yogurt instead of anti-bacterial lotion for hand sanitising)

When I take a probiotic-rich bath at night I feel I am in intimate communication with these friendly micro-organisms. Bath time for me is a powerful healing and meditative ritual. I light candles and sink into the supportive waters and feel I am incubated from everything–it is as if I have returned to the womb. This space is a time for me to let go of everything and to just feel deep love for myself–every bit of my body from my toes to my nose–which I generally have trouble doing in daily life. If I have just seen the latest disaster news, if someone has asked for my help with a dietary issue and then ignored my advice, or if I have just had a powerful craniosacral session and am trying to understand what is going on with the client’s system, it is often hard to let go of these niggling thoughts and concerns. I worry about my family, my world and my friends too much in general, so for me the bath is a time to just take the time to love myself, to listen to my body and to let the outside world wait outside the bathroom door until I am rejuvenated. This incubation helps me connect with my higher self and to get new perspectives on life.

Since there are actually more cells of micro-organisms in and on our body than there are our own body cells it is only natural that they are a big part of this ritual. I spend time listening and feeling the probiotic and enzyme-rich yogurt on my skin. These micro-organisms love honey and they love warm moist environments and I can communicate very powerfully with these close friends in this protected and nourishing environment.

When I am ready to get out of the bath I sit on the edge of the tub and allow my skin to air-dry, this ensures that I will continue to have their protection and support. Sometimes, if I have put in an extra large amount of yogurt my skin will feel a little sticky at first and there will be a tight film that forms as my skin dries. I usually find when I go to bed after a fermented milk bath that my dreams are powerful and meaningful, often answering questions that I have been pondering over during the day. I sleep very deeply and upon arising the next morning my skin is soft and well moisturised. I feel fully rejuvenated.

I have seen many websites that talk about Cleopatra’s fermented milk baths as being simply cosmetic, but after experiencing these deeply nourishing and loving baths myself, I am sure there was more to it than that. They Egyptians understood the world in a much deeper way than we do, much of their knowledge is lost to us now, but they saw all things as interconnected. Cleopatra knew that these baths were vital to her ability to think quickly, remain healthy, rejuvenate her body and soul, communicate with her higher self, interact with the external environment and to clearly see and understand the past, present and future. Perhaps the added bonus of the supple skin and youthful appearance bestowed upon her via the fermented milk was secondary and not the primary reason she devoted time to this ritual.

I prefer to use fermented milk for my baths from small-scale local artisan community dairies where I know the cows are treated humanely–living in a natural environment, eating grass and treated with respect. The sacred healing ritual of these loving baths is more powerful if the milk used is not treated with chemicals and antibiotics and where the cows can chew and process their food in a peaceful and loving manner. The web of life is intimately connected and factory farmed cows do not produce the same sort of healing vibrations for this rejuvenating ritual that well-loved cows produce. A big thanks goes out to Vancouver’s local cowshare for having the courage to insist upon caring for our cows in a authentic and natural manner.


  1. Saeti says:

    How do you deal with
    the smell of fermented milk on your skin?
    Also honey has antibacterial properties that
    Can counter the probiotics in the kefir. Thanks

  2. cindy says:

    I am a new “kefir farmer”. My kefir is not delicious like some folks claim theirs is.
    I have never had kefir so I don’t really know what it should taste like. I reminds me of the toast and milk we used to have when I was a child.
    This morning I gave my kefir a milk bath.
    I will keep experimenting until I find the right way.
    This looks like a fun site.

    • hellaD says:

      Thanks for your note! I think many people don’t like the taste of kefir, and then they usually add it to a smoothie or something like that. Usually it is pretty sour tasting.

  3. Bethany says:

    This is great, I have some raw goat kefir that isn’t yummy to drink (first batch with new grains) and someone recommended using it for a bath. I’m infusing herbs in it and am going to take a bath with it tonight! Honey is a good idea, but I probably won’t waste 1/2 cup of it in the bath! Maybe just a spoonful.

  4. Lipika Vig says:

    This is the reason I keep coming back to this site.
    I can’t believe how many posts I missed since my last visit!

  5. aed939 says:

    Palmolive recently reformulated their antibacterial dish soap active ingredient from triclosan to lactic acid!

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