Balneotherapy (from lat. balneum – bath, bathing, therapia – treatment) – is a method of medical rehabilitation, recovery of the patient’s health after illness, as well as an effective method of prevention of various diseases by non-drug method – pleasant and straightforward outdoor use of natural mineral waters – bathing in baths, showers, foot or hand baths, as well as a variety of therapeutic mud or gas. Perhaps this is the oldest method of treatment by natural factors.
Balneotherapy is an alternative therapy of health care medicine. What does it consist of? What are its benefits? Let’s find out!
Balneotherapy is an alternative therapy that has gained much recognition in recent years. Due to its impact on various types of ailments and conditions, balneology is widely used and recommended by medical professionals. So why is it so popular?
It has some treatments from hydrotherapy, but they are not the same. This practice is usually performed in spas, using water and mineral salts through immersions, inhalings, and massages for remedial purposes. Balneotherapy also includes treatment with a variety of curative muds.
A study published in the Israeli Medical Journal indicated that the course of balneotherapy has a positive effect that reduces pain and improves motor functions in older people suffering from knee arthritis or chronic lower back pain.
In several European countries (such as Hungary and Romania), this therapy has even been included in their public health system. So, let’s dive in to discover what else balneology can offer.
What is balneotherapy?
Balneotherapy relates to a set of alternative medical approaches that are part of traditional medicine. The idea of using water for therapeutic purposes started its story back from Hippocrates’ time. Balneotherapy occurred and started gaining its fame between the 18th and 19th centuries, with the first spas’ appearing.
From ancient times to the present day, experts have found that water, mud, stones, mineral salts and aromatherapy treatments can contribute to the relief of various diseases . In general, the use of its multiple techniques helps to promote physical and mental health.
Common practices in balneology
Balneotherapy uses a wide variety of techniques for curative purposes. Often, the spas where they are performed have waters rich in minerals such as silica, sulfur, selenium, and radium. These, in addition, usually vary in temperature. Also, medicinal clays are frequently used, and it’s a technique known as mud treatment.
Hot & Cold Therapy
Hot & Cold Therapy is the spas’ most popular technique. Various temperatures are applied through it, which all depends on the therapeutic purpose, which has to be achieved. While the application of chilled water improves skin and removes muscle spasms and pain, hot water expands blood vessels, relaxes, and increases metabolic processes.
The mineralization technique uses a variety of special salts to combat and treat various ailments. Immersion in saline water solution can significantly improve the overall health of the cardiovascular and respiratory. When it is absorbed into the body, it promotes the removal of toxins and enhances kidney and metabolic activity.
Marine mineralization and deep skin hydration treatment
Marine mineralization treatment uses marine minerals in high concentrations; this treatment combats cardiovascular problems and skin conditions (psoriasis and acne).
Benefits of Balneotherapy
As a result of balneotherapeutic procedures in the human body, there are changes in the body’s cardiovascular, immune, nervous, metabolic, and other systems. Typically, sessions improve specific organs’ work and contribute to the formation of higher resistance to disease and stress.
General effects of bathing in mineral waters are:
– muscle relaxation;
– improved blood circulation in the tissues;
– mobilization of immune, nervous and endocrine systems;
– activation of metabolic processes;
All kinds of baths help change the functional state of different body systems and can be stimulating, inhibiting, or normalizing the adaptation systems (neurohumoral, immune, etc.). The nature of changes in the body under the influence of baths of mineral water is determined by the biological activity of the used type of balneotherapy (e.g., a type of mineral water), the body’s individual reactivity, and the intensity of the pathological process.
On the other hand, using methods such as inhalation of mineral water vapors suggests preventing and treating various respiratory illnesses. It also improves the skin condition, contributing to tissue detoxification, fighting against infections and acne. Other benefits that deserve special attention:
Arthritis pain relief: while not a cure for the disease, it can help to some extent to reduce pain. This was evidenced by research published in the Journal of Rheumatology.
Helps fibromyalgia (widespread chronic pain and a heightened pain response to pressure) patients: While more studies are needed to support this benefit, balneotherapy appears to help fibromyalgia patients calm their pain and improve their mood.
Relieves low back pain: Bathing in mineral and sulfuric salts helps relieve back pain, especially in the lower back area.
Improves mood: in general, people who undergo balneotherapy sessions notice an improvement in their mood. All its techniques help to alleviate the effects of stress and anxiety.
Despite the mentioned benefits of balneotherapy, it should not be overlooked that it is contraindicated in some cases. In particular, experts in this field recommend not to use it in patients with severe cardiovascular disease or late pregnancy.
Nor is it recommended in people with epilepsy or diseases such as tuberculosis and severe diabetes mellitus. It is fair to say that these types of therapy should be considered as an addition to other established types of treatment, not as a substitute for them.
As the best advice, in case of any doubts, consult with a doctor or expert in the field. A professional will assess whether or not it is appropriate to undergo this type of practice.
Nelly Burgess is a loving mother and professional writer. She is currently working as an editor on wowessays.com. She has experience in various areas including social media marketing, strategic planning for resorts and spas, and healthy eating. When she is not working, you can find her in the park where she plays with children or practices asanas in a local yoga studio.