Monday, July 28, 2008

Healing Waters!

One of the most important activities that takes place at a traditional spa is balneotherapy, a natural approach to health and healing that uses hot spring water, gases, mud, and climatic factors (such as heat) as therapeutic elements.

In addition to bathing, modalities such as hydrotherapy, mud therapy, physical therapy, massage, steam baths, physical exercises, inhalation of water vapor, and drinking mineral water are often used as part of a complex therapy for both health and preservation and treating disease.

Over the past four centuries, the science of balneology has evolved into a medical specialty in Europe and Japan, where special courses in balneotherapy are offered to both physicians and nurses by major medical schools. Researchers believe that thermal springs facilitate healing in a number of important ways.

Here are some ways through which Balneotherapy Heals:

1. Bathing in hot springs gradually increases the temperature of the body, thus killing harmful germs and viruses.

2. Thermal bathing increases hydrostatic pressure on the body, thus increasing blood circulation and cell oxygenation bringing improved nourishment to vital organs and tissues.

3. Increase in Blood flow also helps dissolve and eliminate toxins from the body.

4. Bathing in thermal water increases body metabolism, including stimulating the secretions of the intestinal tract and the liver, aiding digestion.

5. Repeated hot springs bathing (especially over three- to four-week period) can help normalize the functions of the endocrine glands as well as the functioning of the body’s autonomic nervous system.

6. Trace amounts of minerals such as carbon dioxide, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and lithium are absorbed by the body and provide healing effects to various body organs and system. These healing effects can include stimulation of the immune system, leading to enhanced immunity; physical and mental relaxation; the production of endorphins; and normalized gland function.

7. Mineral springs contain high amounts of negative ions, which can help promote feelings of physical and psychological well-being.

8. The direct application of mineralized thermal waters (especially those containing sulfur) can have a therapeutic effect on diseases of the skin, including psoriasis, dermatitis, and fungal infections. Some mineral waters are also used to help the healing of wounds and other skin injuries.

9. Pain, Stiffness, inflammation and dependency on anti-inflammatory drugs were noted to be decreased in many Rheumatological conditions including Oteoarthritis of Hip and Knee, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis by many researchers in Israel, Netherlands, Turkey, Russia, Germany, France and Italy. Mobility, and Quality of life improved.

Indications for Balneotherapy

Over the several hundred years during which the science of medical balneology has developed, following health conditions are identified that can best be treated by healing springs.

. Chronic rheumatic diseases
. Fibromyalgia
. Chronic Back Pain
. Functional recovery of central and peripheral neuroparalysis
. Metabolic diseases, especially diabetes, obesity, and gout
. Chronic gastrointestinal diseases
. Chronic mild respiratory diseases
. Circulatory diseases, especially moderate or mild hypertension
. Peripheral circulatory diseases (affecting the hands and feet)
. Chronic skin diseases
. Psychosomatic and stress-related diseases
. Autonomic nervous system dysfunction
. Vibration disorder (a middle ear disorder affecting balance)
. Sequela of (conditions resulting from) trauma
. Chronic gynecological diseases

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