MINERAL/THERMAL SPAS

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MINERAL/THERMAL SPAS

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Mineral spas are resorts developed around naturally occurring mineral springs.

Spas grew in reputation in the nineteenth century on into the late middle-twentieth century for their purported healing or healthful benefits to those wealthy enough to partake of their waters. This was called a Mineral cure and gave let to the phrase ‘taking a cure’, still used as a euphemism, normally though today for one trying to kick a drug dependency.

In many cases, they were located in mountainous locales that gave an additional excuse to leave the drudgery of a hot house in warm weather during summer’s onset and were seasonally populated by the well-to-do. They eventually became early vacation spots with the counter-Victorian work ethic ‘rationale’ of health as an excuse to have fun and mix with one’s peers in recreation.

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Subsequently, many such became the seed stock for today’s modern vacation resorts. Locations such as Steamboat Springs, Vail, St. Moritz, and Mineral Wells first became popular for the questionable health benefits of mineral or soda-water soaks, ingestion, and clean outs during the hey-day of patent medicines and backward medical knowledge. United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt suffered a paralytic illness, and regularly visited Warm Springs and other hot springs for restorative soaks. While his cousin Theodore Roosevelt became known as a manly-man of incredible endurance, he was a sickly child suffering from asthma and ‘took cures’ periodically in an attempt to gain better health.

The name “spa” comes from the Belgian town Spa.

As the Victoria era came to an end, the influences of the industrial revolution created more and more varied members of the upper middle class. The concepts of vacationing, tourism, and travel became less the property of the old monied, and shared by an increasing population base of those who could afford holiday trips like the rich. Such adventures had much allure in the days before any audio-visual entertainments outside a live orchestra. Thus, the spas began attracting an increasing number of local patrons as well as those from afar just at the time when the burgeoning numbers were able to take advantage of the newfangled automobile and the now extensive railways throughout most all of Europe and the United States. The Spa towns already had infrastructure and attractions in place to assuage such desires, and the modern tourist trip began to take its familiar form.

A mineral spring’s spa has a source of natural mineral water that you can soak in. Mineral springs have been valued for thousands of years for their power to ease joint pain, arthritis, and other physical ailments.

Mineral springs may come out of the earth at a tepid temperature and then be heated for bathing. If there is a lot of geo-thermal activity, the mineral water is literally heated by the earth and is called a hot springs. Sometimes the water is so hot it has to be cooled. Mineral springs have naturally occurring minerals and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, manganese, sulphur, iodine, and bromine. The exact makeup of the water varies from spring to spring, and many spas post the exact chemical make-up. Different waters are considered beneficial for different ailments.

master_hidroMineral springs spas vary greatly in the degree of luxury and amenities they offer. Some are historic bathhouses where you go to soak for 20 or 30 minutes in a private room that may be very simple. Usually you can get a massage. There might be communal outdoor pools. But some of the world’s most lavish hotels and resorts were built on the site of mineral springs.

Some of the world’s great spa cities rose up because of mineral springs; they include Baden-Baden in Germany, Spa in Belgium and Bath in England. The U.S. has its share of historic spa cities that sprang up in the 18th and 19th centuries, including Berkeley Springs, Virginia, Calistoga, California and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

In the 18th and 19th centuries drink the mineral waters was an important part of the cure. This was a time when the wealthy classes went to spas to mingle, and the sipping pavilion provided the perfect opportunity. Today most people prefer a good soak to drinking the pungent, odd-tasting waters.

In the old days visits to a thermal spring or mineral spa was for treatments of illnesses the Romans sang praises for the benefits of mineral waters and hot springs properties.  As time went by the Italian spa evolved from being treatment centers into spa holiday resorts and for executives seeking to rejuvenate from their stressful jobs.

Mineral spas are still centers for healing and nourishing mind, body and spirit with a little twist that people do not go there just for the healing properties of thermal water, but also for beauty treatments.  Here are just some of the more common treatments provided at Mineral Spas. 

images (2)(1)  Mineral Water Drinking  – This is considered one of the most important forms of thermal spa treatment where you drink a healthy dose of mineral water with oligomineral and bicarbonate to treat problems connected to liver, intestines and digestive system.  Thermal water consumed encourages and stimulates metabolic balance and the regenerates the body which is often run down by the stress of modern living.  In many cases, mineral water drinking treatments are combined with other thermal treatments such as hydrofango-balneotherapy (mud-immersion) where the mud treatments focus on the liver;

(2) Thermal Steam Caves – The term anthrotherapy refers to all therapeutic uses of water vapor released inside natural geological caves or at time in artificial man-made environments.  The caves are grouped into either hot or cold caves depending on the internal temperature. There are humid-hot caves also known as thermal caves or dry-hot caves called steam caves. With the steam caves the steam is released through cracks found along the walls or from the floor.    A particular micro-climate is found inside these caves due to water temperature, chemical compositions, humidity level, composition of any thermal gases, rock composition and level of ionization in the air.  This type of treatment is for the whole body and treatment is administered by observing the patient tolerance to the environmental conditions he/she is exposed to, in particular ‘thermal pressure’. Anthro-therapy is suitable for treatment of rheumatic and articular problems. It is also beneficial for people who suffers from respiratory disorders; 

grotta-termale(3)  Irrigation and Jet Shower Treatments – Irrigation and internal jet showers are thermal treatments which allows mineral water and thermal gases to come into contact with the body open cavities (rectal, vaginal and nose). Mineral water is collected in special containers called irrigators; it is brought to the right temperature and density required for the desired treatments. In all cases special probes are used for perfusion of the membranes, stillicidum (drop by drop) irrigation allows the thermal water to be properly absorbed. Jet shower is used to spray micronized shower onto treatment areas and is particularly suitable for treating endotympanic disorders.   It is believed this irrigation treatment of the female genital organs is able to regulate healthy menstrual cycles as well as healthy ovaries as the water contains salt, iodine and bromide. haryngel cavity it uses a micronized nasal showers which ensure deep level penetration of the thermal water therapeutical properties.  Irrigatory methods are also used to treat intestinal disorders for which three types are the most common treatments – rectal shower, proctoclysis and micro-enema. These are taken to treat chronic colon disorders and to normalize constipation problems;

(4)   INHALATIONS  –  This means the introduction of mineral waters or its gaseous components into the respiratory tract using special equipment that atomizes the water into very small particles. It comes in two forms – humid inhalations or dry inhalations depending on whether the thermal water atomization is carried out with water vapor or pressurized air. The main types of inhalation treatments are nebulization therapy, inhalation, aerosol therapy, humages and insufflation. This treatment can either be administer on one-to-one basis or in a group where everyone is sits in a special room built for this purpose;

(5)  Balneotherapy – This is the partial immersion of the body in thermal water. It is one of the main spa treatments offered and performed by all spas. Due to the curative properties of the thermal water during balneotherapy the thermal water acts through certain stimuli – heat action, mechanical stress, physical-chemical and chemical actions.  There are three types of baths – low mineralization, medium mineralization and high mineralization. It is made up of temperature of the water and saline concentration of the mineral water used. Salt concentration in the water helps to combat the different therapeutic needs of our bodies. It increases our caloric action which is a direct relationship between the specific weight and the heat and heat retention capacity. It strengthens hydromechanical actions and finally stimulates our nerves system by altering our osmotic currents which cause the internal stress of our bodies. Results from taking a bath in this type of water are clearly different from us taking a hot bath at home using normal tap water. Immersion in thermal water can also be combined with hydro massage spa treatments;

front_mud(6) Fangotherapy – Thermal mud is a special mixture formed of claylike solid component, thermal water and organic components that forms during a maturation period. According to their special needs structure, thermal muds act in a curative manner through specific stimuli – heat action, mechanical stress, physical-chemical and chemical action.  No other substance is quite like mud which has the physical and physical-chemical properties needed to generate heat, then slowly release it. Mud packs using thermal mud are particularly suitable for the treatments of dermatological, arthro-rheumatic and locomotion problems, gout and also gynecological complaints are also treatable by applying mud directly on the pelvis areas;

(7)  Sand Baths – Sand baths uses sea sand with its distinctive saline components. The salts and organic components found in the sand come from self-filtration process results from movement of the waves. Sand therapy often forms part of a more complex spa treatment where it is combined with seawater balneotherapy and other specific thermal treatments. This sort of treatment is usually found only at Italian spas located near the sea. This spa treatment is highly recommended for rheumatic and osteoarthritic conditions. It can also be good for treating skin problems such as psoriasis.

OTHER SPA TREATMENTS     Of course you will always find massage therapy and pressotherapy at spas. These days many Italian spas offer oriental/Asian massages such as Thai massages and reflexology as well. Regular massages is considered very beneficial to a managing stress in releases pressured points as well as encourages blood-circulation which in turn improve our body digestive system. Apart from body treatments there are also many facial treatments to choose from.   The significant difference between spas in Asia and Italy is that Italy spa are very old some dating back as far as 5000 years old and are established in natural surroundings while those in Asia are normally man-made.

In Japan, the Japanese swears by thermal spring baths (Onsen). Infant, children and adults from young to the old visit public bath houses regularly. Perhaps this is one of the secret why mortality rates in Japan is high

Kathy Kiefer

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