Treatments don’t come any wetter than “balneotherapy,” which is the use of therapeutic baths to treat disease. It is one of the world’s oldest medical procedures, going back to the very earliest humans. Could it work for you? And for what?
Balneotherapy uses hot and cold baths to treat what ails you. In Europe, and around the world, baths and mineral springs aren’t just relaxing. They can help your body overcome a health problem. Let’s take a closer look.
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The overall idea is that you immerse the body in mineral-rich waters, allowing the minerals and sulfur to absorb into your skin. Then, this water can soothe the joints and muscles and stimulate the body overall. This last factor is believed to include such effects as empowering the immune system, stimulating the flow of blood of lymph nodes, making your cells more active, dilating the blood vessels, and triggering the body’s ability to self-heal.
Though evidence is limited, balneotherapy is not without its health breakthroughs. Highest in the list of possibilities are these conditions: low back pain; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; ankylosing spondylitis; psoriasis; fibromyalgia; eczema; and varicose veins.
One study had 70 patients with chronic skin rash take two 10-minute baths a day in an acidic hot spring. In 76% of them, skin symptoms improved, while bacteria on the skin surface either disappeared or decreased. Another looked into balneotherapy for autoimmune diseases in general. While further studies are needed, it concluded that balneotherapy can complement regular drug therapy, and is “certainly beneficial in suitable cases.”
Another study sought to see how hot spring water could control skin symptoms of dermatitis. Without getting overly technical here, the researchers were able to show that the acidic hot water springs effectively destroyed bacteria on the skin.
Overall, it seems that joint pain and skin conditions seem to respond best to balneotherapy. Through its soothing nature, this treatment may work well for psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, and even mild dementia, which would then suggest that balneotherapy could help take away risk factors for your heart (such as high blood pressure) by relaxing your internal systems.