Have you ever tested the healing power of water apart from drinking? Balneotherapy is the use of water to heal and it has been practiced for centuries. Over time, the processes have evolved.You will certainly be surprised to know how effective this therapy is, especially in natural spring water, for treating diseases and enhancing the quality of life.The benefits of balneotherapy are well-documented, and it is becoming increasingly popular as people look for natural ways to heal their bodies.
This guide will tell you how water is used in different forms to treat various health problems.
You will learn about the following:
A Detailed Guide on ‘Balneotherapy’ by Dr Prem – Concept, Benefits, Methods, Indications, Best Practices, Destinations and More
What is the Concept of Balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy is a traditional medicine technique that involves thermal mineral water. In this therapy, water is used in various methods for the treatment of certain diseases. It comprises hot and cold water for stimulation or relaxation by specific movements throughthe water.
The treatmentis considered a refreshing way of combating with stress in the form of bathing.Balneotherapy is usually practiced as a spa treatment, where mineral-packed water is used for the process.Balneotherapy involves all-natural substances and is far away from the use of any chemicals or potentiallyharmful drugs.
History of Balneotherapy
The history of Balneotherapy is apparently thousands of years old. According to the research, archeologists found remains of bathing pools that dates back to 1700 BC. The mention of the healing power of water was also extensively written by the Greek physician ‘Hippocrates’, who used to immerse his patients in the seawater for treating various ailments, like arthritis, etc.
History also mentions Cleopatra (69-30 BC) who used to soak in the rich-mineral water of the dead sea for maintaining her legendary beauty. It was in the early 5thcentury BC when scientists began to look for the beneficial advantages of Balneotherapy in thermal baths. In the further years, more and more research took place to understand each mineral’s quality and its effect on our bodies.
As time passed by, the belief that natural thermal water may have cures for many diseases only grew stronger. The bathing culture was rapidly adopted by many during the 19th century. In today’s world, the innovation in thermalism for cure is joined with the concept of wellness. This raised the development of Balneotherapy in wellness resorts making it a significant feature of wellness tourism.
Principle of Balneotherapy
Balneotherapy believes in the concept that water has great healing properties and that it can be used as a medium to treat diseases and relax the body and mind. Water at spas contains minerals and is considered to be therapeutic in nature.A warm water bath helps in the absorption of minerals into the body and relaxes the muscles, tissues, and stimulates the entire body and mind system.
What are the benefits of Balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy is a treatment for both the body and mind. Technically, anyone can be benefited from its use. However, people with certain conditions, may notwhich is explained further in the guide. Unlike, mainstream treatment or usingstrong medicines, this treatment is free from risks.
As per a studyperformed on a group of patients suffering from physical pain and anxiety, Balneotherapy has shown significantly effective results by acting as an analgesic for relieving pain and improving mobility. This has also raised the popularity of Balneotherapy in wellness tourism. However,it must be performed under a supervision of a trained therapist only.
Here are some of the amazing benefits you can expect after the therapy:
- Improves blood circulation
- Deeply cleanses pores
- Brightens skin
- Reduces Fibromyalgia pain
- Eases lower back pain
- Offers relief from arthritic symptoms
- Fights Psoriasis
- Fights Cellulite
What are the types of Balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy has evolved and developed vastly over time. It is practiced in various forms that include bathing, applying, and drinking mineral water. Following are some types of Balneotherapy in health resorts, spas, and other centers:
It refers to the use of mineral spring water at different temperatures for showers, in-water exercises, and baths. This has been proven to be effective for patients with arthritis condition. You can find this type of balneotherapy in thermal baths commonly at spas.
Mud Therapy –
It is also known as Fangotherapy or Pelotherapy. Mud bath generally makes use of volcanic ash or other kinds of clays along with thermal spring water. It can include application, packs, or wraps of mud for therapeutic purposes.
Crenotherapy refers to all kinds of treatment that involve internal and external use of hot mineral water from springs. It contains health-promoting minerals such as calcium, sodium, or magnesium. It is performed in four different ways explained further.
Hydroponic Therapy –
It is another type of Balneotherapy, which classically refers to drinking water. However, this treatment involves drinking the spring water directly from the natural source. This is done only for designated times and temperatures.
This therapy is also known as nibble fish therapy, fish pedicure, or Kangal fish therapy. It is used for the treatment of skin conditions like psoriasis, with help of Garra rufa fish. This fish can surviveup to43 °C in thermal mineral spring water.
Spa Therapy –
Spa therapy consists of various types of Balneotherapy and similar treatments. It involves many natural remedies and the use of seawater. Its incredible benefits of enhancing the quality of life have fueled the popularity of Balneotherapy in wellness tourism.
What methods are used in Balneotherapy?
Many natural elements like hot springs and natural herbal medicines are used as part of Balneotherapy. Hot springs are considered to be helpful in treating circulation problems. Various forms like hydrotherapy, massage, mud therapy, steam inhalation, and baths are used as part of this therapy. The patients can be treated by immersion in a bath, by placing hot or wet towels over the body parts, or in the form of steam or saunas.
What is commonly used in Balneotherapy?
- Baths that contain thermal mineral water
- Water directly from the source of natural springs
- The temperature of the water used for the procedure is at least 20°C
- The mineral content in the water is at least 1g/L.37
- Specific salts.
- Muscle pains
- chronic diseases
- rheumatic ailments
- circulatory problems
- respiratory troubles
What is the difference between Hydrotherapy and Balneotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is a part of Balneotherapy. However, the only difference between the two is that Hydrotherapy involves exercises. This treatment has been found to be extensively useful for easing muscle pain. Hydrotherapy is one of the most frequently used alternative medicines for treating diseases that may not be cured with medical solutions. It is especially very popular for treating patients with all types of arthritis.
Some of the other benefits of Hydrotherapy treatment are pain reduction, low-impact efforts, improved mental health, relaxation, recovery from workouts, and prevention of sore muscles, etc. If you want to try out this therapy, you can easily find it under Balneotherapy in health resorts and spas. However, it is necessary to discuss suitable exercises for every individual with a doctor.
Hydrotherapy is done in different ways depending on the condition, they are:
- Warm water baths
- Aquatic exercises
- Water circuit therapy
- Wraps, fomentation, or compression
- Immersion therapies
What is Crenotherapy in Balneotherapy?
Crenotherapy is also known as drinking water therapy. It refers to any treatment that uses water in any form such as mud, mineral water, and vapor. Often, food that we intake every day may lack essential components like calcium, copper, selenium, etc. This treatment hugely consists of drinking mineral water that supplies these important elements to the body.
For external absorption of this medical water, certain methods like mobility pool, spray pool, mud poultice, aero bath, water massage, and get sprays are used depending on the suitability and requirement of the patient.
Drinking mineral water treatments are one of the oldest therapies in the world. Therefore, you can find the practice of Crenotherapy in health and wellness resorts, wellness programs, and spas all over the world. The efficiently dosed water provides many benefits altogether. The therapy regulates the proper functioning of the bowels, liver, stomach, and kidneys and is found to be very effective in curing certain diseases.
The benefits provided by Crenotherapy are as follows:
- Cures diseases related to the respiratory, urinary, and digestive tract
- Reduces and manages digestive issues
- Boosts immunity and overall health
- Helps in improving mental health
- Treats gastric and intestinal-related problems
What are the Different Types of Crenotherapy?
Salt waters –
For treating with salt water, a bath is prepared with crystalline salt in the healing water creating 26% of saturated brine. Also, a ready-to-drink is prepared by adding a teaspoonful of produced salt solution in the healing water. This drink is ideally recommended to be taken immediately after a person wakes up. This saline drinking treatment in Crenotherapy improves metabolism, and general well-being, and contributes to the process of detoxification.
Aloe Vera –
With this aloe vera drink treatment, a person consumes about 30ml of specially prepared aloe vera gel in a day. In order to get full healing benefits from the aloe vera plant extract, at least a period of 3 months consistently is recommended. This particular type of Crenotherapy is well-known for its benefits of strengthening the immune system and reducing fatigue, energy loss, and dermatological problems.
Milk or Whey –
It is a special type of treatment in Crenotherapy, which can also be practiced in the field of fasting therapies. This therapy is usually recommended or prescribed for a period of three weeks. During this phase, a person can consume only selective items such as healing mineral water, 1.5 litres of whey, fruits, herbal teas, and some juices. The calorie intake must not exceed more than 300 to 350 calories a day. Therefore, whey treatment is considered best for weight loss and also treats stomach-related problems.
Healing Clay –
It is one of the common treatments of Crenotherapy in health and wellness resorts, and spas. This therapy includes the consumption of a special drink that contains a mixture of mud extracts with several precious herbs. It is a great cure for stomach acidification, iron deficiency, stomach inflammation, heartburn, and especially for indigestion. However, before starting any diet or drinks during crenotherapy, initial consultation with a doctor is essential to avoid any interactions.
What is Balneotherapy in psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common dermatologic chronic disease, which is incurable. It is a well-known factor that psoriasis impacts the quality of life of a person due to its psychical and physical symptoms. Moreover, patient with psoriasis is associated with a higher risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory bowel, depression, and certain malignancies. Except for genetic causes and general risk factors such as obesity, smoking, stress, or alcohol consumption, onekey factor for developing psoriasis is inordinate immune system activation.
According to a study report, Balneotherapy has shown a significant decrease in PASI (Psoriasis Area Severity Index) with a reduction of staphylococcus aureus colonization and enterotoxin N and interleukin-8. As a matter of fact, applying different kinds of peloids or mineral water on the skin exerts thermal, chemical, and mechanical effects. The visible and effective reduction in inflammation and better differentiation of keratinocytes is what explains why Balneotherapy is considered to be helpful for psoriatic patients.
Also, the immunomodulatory effects of the water will depend on the contents in it. Sulfur water has antipruriginous, anti-inflammatory, and keratolytic effects along with antifungal and antibacterial properties. The evidence for the effectiveness of this therapy has been found in many research studies conducted globally. Major studies to test these effects were performed at the coast of the Dead Sea. These have clinically proven the importance of Balneotherapy for the treatment of patients with psoriasis.
Another part of Balneotherapy that treats psoriasis is ‘Balneophototherapy’. It is a type of Balneotherapy that combines salt water and ultraviolent B-light or UVB. This therapy has shown effective results in treating severe chronic plaque psoriasis and some other types of psoriasis that may not have responded to initial topical treatments.
It manages the symptoms of the disease by slowing down the production of skin cells and reducing skin inflammation.The treatment is also beneficial for associated chronic psoriasis arthritis.
Important Note– Balneophototherapy is not advised for patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE, or those with skin malignancies, photoaggravated dermatoses, or immunodeficiency syndrome.
What do you mean by Balneotherapy Spa?
- Salt water bathing – The water used is either naturally salty or some bath salts may be added
- Spring water bathing – Water from natural spring water sources suitable for various health problems
- Sulfur bath – Spring water that has a high amount of sulfur
- Oil bathing – Addition of herbal oils in the water
- Mud bath – Mud full of minerals minimally water-downed with the spring water
- Watercourse or exercise – Water-based exercises or swimming in large pools with countercurrent channels for required bodily movements
- Partial bath – Some selected specific parts of the body are only bathed
- Alternative hot-cold bath – Some time to be spent in the warm pool followed by a quick dip in the cold pool. The process is repeated
- Inhalations – The healing water is evaporated and the steam is inhaled through the airways
- Mineral water drinking – Only a few suitable types of spring water are used internallythrough various kinds of drinkables
Who Should Avoid Balneotherapy?
Although Balneotherapy is completely safe, not all baths are suitable for everyone. Especially if someone is pregnant or hasheart-related problems. This is because the mineral content and essential oils in the healing water may trigger health issues or cause side effects or deteriorate the condition.
In case, the below-mentioned conditions apply to you, make sure you discuss it with your doctor or therapist to analyze if Balneotherapy is safe for you:
- Open cuts, wounds, or sores
- Allergic to any oils, salts, or herbs
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Recent stroke or attack
- Severe anemia
- Severe hypertension or hypotension
- Drug or alcoholic intoxication
- Severe psychiatric disorder
Can you do Balneotherapy at home?
You can generally find Balneotherapy in wellness resorts, spas, destination health resorts, and retreats. But, a simple form of this therapy can also be done at home. You will need some equipment and ingredients like a bathing tub and minerals or salts to add to the bath such as Epsom salts and sea salts.
Here is how you can do Balneotherapy at home:
- You will need to prepare water in the tub. The temperature of the water must be between 98.6° F and 107° F. For instance, if you need to treat fatigue or stimulate your body then 98.6° F is ideal and if you want to soothe your joints or muscles after an intense workout, you can keep the temperature as high as 107° F.
- The minerals and salt that can easily be used for balneotherapy at home are sea salt and Epsom salt. These can be added in the amount of 1 to 2 cups in the water for a standard-sizedbathtub.
- Once the water is prepared, you can soak yourself in it for at least 15-20 minutes to gain benefits from this therapy. Make sure that you are fully soaked in the water to your neck. In case of any heart or respiratory problems, consult a doctor before performing the therapy.
- Some people like to add essential oils while performing it at home. Please note that the added oils may not mix with the water and hence may not be of any benefit. However, those who would like to obtain the benefits of essential oils can opt for aromatherapy which allows you to inhale their vapors.
- It is highly recommended not to stress your mind or body immediately after you are done with the bath. You could slip into a robe and rest. Either you can lie down or meditate if you prefer to sit for at least 10-20 minutes. Once you feel relaxed and ready to start with your daily routines, you can gradually get back to it.
What are the best practices in Balneotherapy?
All the types of practices performed in Balneotherapy are based on scientific evidence and provide different therapeutical benefits. They involve the use of legally and medically validated mineral-medical water, natural herbs, oils, etc with natural springs.
Some of the best practices are done in naturally got springs, seawater, or mud. You can find these revitalizing treatments of Balneotherapy in thermal tourism, thermal spa centers, and wellness resorts. These are commonly done to promote relaxation, improve blood circulation, stimulate the immune system, and reduce pain.
What are the best destinations for Balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy is available in many countries in beautiful destinations that may offer other alternative therapies too. However, before you undergo the therapy, ensure the center or sources of your treatment are authorized and run by trained therapists only.
Some of the best destinations for Balneotherapy are:
- Onsen – Japan
- Kurort – Europe
- Thermal springs – United States
- Turkish Bath – Turkey
- Wen Quan – Taiwan
Balneotherapy is the use of water in any form to provide relief from certain ailments and for stress relaxation. This therapy provides relief to the body’s muscles and tissues, relieves pain, and provides nutrition to all parts of the body. It has great stimulating effects and helps to improve the vital functions like circulation, digestion, and enzyme secretion. This therapy also aids in producing a soothing effect and helps to relax the body and the mind. It can help to improve glandular functions and helps to boost immunity. However, it is necessary to remember that Balneotherapy must be carried out only after ensuring its suitability and under the supervision of a certified and trained therapist.