Health Attributes of Mineral Spas
Clinical Research

General Attributes of Heat and Water

Article (Hot Tubs )

1. Relax & Reduce Stress.


The link between stress and illness should be of interest to anyone concerned with their health. We all have stress in our daily lives relating to work, family, and society. Mental tensions, frustrations, and insecurity are among the most damaging types of stress.

Affected by stress, the heart works harder, breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, and digestion slows. Nearly every process of the body is degraded. Researchers have estimated that 80% of disease is stress related. Since we usually can't avoid it, the key to dealing with stress is relieving it!

A soothing and relaxing soak in a hot tub can help counteract stress and its effects on the human body. It is the perfect antidote to a hectic and stressful lifestyle. The warm waters and soothing massage work to relieve anxiety and relax your tense muscles.

Numerous independent studies have proven that a warm water massage stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel good" chemical. This will enhance your sense of well-being, and leave you feeling fresh, clean, and ready to tackle life's daily challenges!

2. Relieve Muscle & Joint Pain.

Both professional and "weekend" athletes can use hot tubs to aid in repairing sore muscles and injuries. Neck and back pain, sports injuries, muscle pulls, spasms and soreness are often eased simply by a quick dip in a hot tub or spa.

They can also be used as preventative medicine. Water's therapeutic powers lie in its ability to alter the body's blood flow. According to an article in Tennis magazine, "When you immerse yourself in the hot water of a whirlpool, the temperature of your skin and muscles rise, causing blood vessels to dilate and thus increases blood flow to the skin and muscles. Turn on the whirlpool jets and the pulsating water massages the skin, increasing blood flow even more. The result? Your skin and muscles loosen and relax from the increased blood circulation."

*IMPORTANT NOTE* If an injury occurs, it is essential to apply ice to the swollen area first. Never get into a hot tub when you have swelling! Allow ample time for the swelling to reduce before soaking in a hot tub. The warm, circulating water will speed healing to any damaged tissue as well as bring much-needed nutrients to the problem area.

3. Improve Athletic Performance.

Whether it's to unwind from the complexities of everyday life or to rejuvenate sore muscles and joints caused by sports or everyday activity, hydrotherapy can help you feel better - naturally. You can actually improve your athletic performance by doing two things: using a hot tub both BEFORE and AFTER you exercise.

Before You Exercise. Soaking in a hot tub before exercising relaxes your body and loosens muscles, making exercise easier and reducing the risk of injury. A pre-exercise soak will also help to improve performance. In fact, some golfers swear it has actually reduced a couple strokes off their game.

After You Exercise. Soaking in a hot tub after exercising is a great way to wind down after the exercise and to relax your muscles. The hot, swirling water embraces you... massaging your neck, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, calves, and feet. But most importantly, hot tub use after you exercise will greatly reduce or even eliminate the stiffness typically felt the next day.

4. Sleep Better.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 132 million Americans suffer from mild to chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders. It has been shown that the results of sleep deprivation can cause depression, mood swings, memory lapses, severe tension, and also compromise your level of attention during waking hours.

According to a study in the scientific journal Sleep, "Soaking in a hot tub prior to bedtime will not only help you to fall asleep, but will also provide a deeper, more relaxing sleep." Furthermore, an article published in the September 16, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine stated that "hot tub therapy" helps to "improve sleep patterns". The benefits are explained further in a pamphlet published by the National Arthritis Foundation titled Pools, Spas, and Arthritis, explaining that soaking in a hot tub will help "in the evening before bedtime to bring on a more restful sleep."

For additional information, Go to the National Sleep Foundation

5. Soothe Arthritis Pain.

Approximately 43 million people in the United States suffer from some form of arthritis pain. The good news for these victims is that there are safe and effective ways to both minimize the discomfort and prevent further damage.

According to a publication from The Arthritis Foundation, Spas, Pools, and Arthritis, "Regular sessions in a hot tub helps keep joints moving. It restores and preserves strength and flexibility, and also protects your joints from further damage. Exercise can also improve a person's coordination, endurance, and the ability to perform daily tasks, and can lead to an enhanced sense of self-esteem and accomplishment."

"A hot tub fulfills the need perfectly... providing the warmth, massage, and buoyancy that is so necessary to the well-being of arthritis sufferers. The buoyancy of the water supports and lessens stress on the joints and encourages freer movement. Water exercises may even act as a resistance to help build muscle strength."

According to a pamphlet printed by The Arthritis Foundation, Exercise and Your Arthritis, "Doctors and therapists know that people with Arthritis can improve their health and fitness through exercise without hurting their joints." The Arthritis Foundation further states that "Doctors frequently prescribe soaking in a hot tub first thing in the morning, before beginning daily activities. Many arthritis sufferers find this time of day to be most painful and stiffness is at its worst." A quick dip in a hot tub will help you to move through the rest of your day with comfort and ease.

6. Help Control Diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, over 15.7 million Americans are diabetic. Tight control of blood glucose (sugar) levels is the only defense against the many problems and side effects that come from diabetes.

Recent studies published in the September 16, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine give new hope to the millions who suffer from diabetes. It stated that "hot tub therapy" helped a group of Type 2 diabetics reduce their blood sugar levels and improve sleep patterns. An independent study led by Dr. Philip L. Hooper at the McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado studied a group of Type 2 diabetes patients for three weeks. The patients were required to soak in a hot tub for thirty minutes a day, six days a week, for the duration of the study. The results were astounding! The patients' average blood sugar levels were reduced by an average of 13 percent. Hooper also explained that one of the subjects was able to reduce his daily dose of insulin by 18 percent after only ten days of the study.

In reference to these findings, Dr. Hooper states that hot tubs are especially helpful for patients who are unable to exercise, and recommends that hot tub treatments should be included as regular therapy for patients with diabetes.

It is highly recommended for those with diabetes to consult with their physician prior to beginning hot tub treatments.

7. Lose Weight & Reduce Cellulite.

As unbelievable as it may sound, recent studies have proven that the regular use of hot tubs can aid in the reduction of weight, as well as diminish the appearance of cellulite. This stems from the fact that soaking in a hot tub simulates exercise. The hydrotherapy dilates the blood vessels, promoting better circulation as it relaxes the skin and muscles. It also raises the heart rate, while lowering blood pressure. This seems to indicate that soaking in a hot tub may be healthier for your heart than the traditional methods of exercise.

An article that appeared in the September 16, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine followed a group of subjects that were required to soak in a hot tub for thirty minutes a day, six days a week, for three weeks. Though this study was for diabetes research, the results were wide reaching. The patients' weight was reduced by an average of 3.75 pounds each! The subjects lost over one pound per week, just by soaking in a spa.

Regular use of hot tubs can also help to diminish the appearance of cellulite. The fatty deposits that typically gather on the hips, thighs, and buttocks of most women past their 30's can never be fully eliminated. The design of a woman's body naturally causes the skin to dimple out, whether she is overweight or thin. However, by improving circulation to the areas affected by cellulite, it has been proven that the appearance of the unsightly deposits can be reduced. According to a variety of medical sources available on the Internet, the hydrotherapy that a hot tub provides stimulates the blood vessels, increasing circulation. It also tones the body tissue, reduces fluid retention, and relieves swelling. All of these benefits combined can result in the diminishment of the appearance of cellulite.

8. Cardiovascular Benefits.

A study at the Mayo Clinic found that since bathing in a hot tub simulates exercise, soaking in one gives you the same health benefits of exercise - with less stress to the heart! A hot tub increases the heart rate while lowering blood pressure, instead of raising it as does other forms of exercise.

A recent medical article titled "Mayo Clinic OK's Spas for Heart Patients" indicates that hot tubs and spas may not present as much of a risk to heart patients as previously thought. The report stated that relaxing in a spa might actually be less stressful to your heart than working out on an exercise bicycle.

The research, led by Dr. Thomas G. Allison of the world-renowned medical center, examined the body temperature and cardiovascular stress experienced by 15 patients at risk for heart disease both in hot water and on bicycles. The studies showed that:

Exercise caused blood pressure to rise from an average of 121/73 to 170/84. By contrast, sitting in a spa made the blood pressure drop from an average of 117/77 to 106/61. The article also states that hot tub use will raise heart rates 25.7 beats per minute.

"When you get in a hot tub, your heart naturally beats faster," Dr. Allison explained, "and many heart disease patients want to know if the stress placed on the heart is too great." The answer, apparently, is no. "If you're a heart disease patient and your physician has recommended exercise," he concluded, "we feel you can get in the hot tub and likely not have any problems."


Spas and the skin

Saunas and hot tubs are best known for the beneficial effect on the skin. Skin is nourished from the inside - in contrast externally applied moisturizing creams provide only temporary palliatives. The high heat of the sauna floods the skins cells with a greatly enhanced blood flow. Pore-clogging oils and waxes are softened and to allow normal pore function and removal of pore-clogging waxes. The skin is a major excretory organ for wastes - the heat- induced perspiration cleans the accumulated residue of dead cells, rancid oils, bacteria and perspiration wastes.

The warming of saunas and hot tubs improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure, kills disease organisms and inhibits cancer growth. Levels of hormones such as thyroid stimulating hormone, adrenaline, noradrenaline, growth hormone and renin are increased.

While concerns are often raised about the effect of heat and water on the skin, most of these problems are due to overuse of saunas and hot tubs, and to detergents and disinfectants used in the water. Also, sometimes improperly cleaned hot tubs have bacteria which produce "hot tub itch".

It is reputed the in the 5th century B.C., Scythians north of the Black Sea used steam as a ritual for purification of the body and soul. Hot rocks were carried into a teepee-like steamhouse and plunged into water creating the steam for bathers. The Finns developed the modern type of steam baths with the sauna (pronounced "saw-na") and profoundly believed that the sauna purged the body of impurities and emotional fatigue.

Starting Sauna and Hot Tub Use

You should not raise your body temperature above about 105 degrees F - even after becoming acclimated to the sauna. Red cells begin to harden at 117 degrees F (48 degrees C) which can impede their passage through capillaries [G.B. Nash and H.J. Meiselman, Alteration of red cell membrane viscoelasticity by heat treatment. Biorheology 22, 73-84, 1985; D. Lerche and H. Baumler, Moderate heat treatment of red blood cells (RBC) slow down the rate of RBC-RBC aggregation in plasma. Biorheology 21, 393-403, 1985].

Pregnant women should be especially cautious and avoid excessively long-lasting saunas and heated baths which may harm the fetus. However, a study of Finnish women - of whom 98.5% use saunas while pregnant - found common birth defects to be among the lowest of any country in the world [L. Saxen, P.C. Holmberg, M. Nurminen and E. Kuosma, Sauna and congenital defects, Teratology 25, 309-313, 1982. ]. In males, sperm numbers fall for a week after sauna use but recover in 5 weeks. In cases of suspected male infertility, excessive heat should be temporarily avoided [P.D. Brown-Woodman, E.J. Post, G. Gas and I. White, The effect of a single sauna exposure on spermatozoa, Arch. Androl. 12, 9- 15, 1984.]. Persons with hereditary pyropoikilocytosis, a rare congenital disease observed in patients of African extraction, possess unusually sensitive red blood cells that can be damaged by temperatures as low as 107 degrees F and should be especially cautious. [D. Dhermy, C. Feo, M. Garbarz et al, Study of erythrocyte deformability in a new case of hereditary pyropoikilocytose using diffraction viscosimetry. Nouv. Rev. Fr. Hematol. 25, 7-16, 1983].

Mineral spas are much the same as hot tubs - except the highly mineralized water bring minerals to the skin surface. Some of the beneficial effects of mineral baths may be the uptake of minerals into the body.


Minerals and the Body

*Authors Note. The body has the ability to absorb minerals into the body through the skin. Whatever minerals it needs it can just draw from the mineral water. This seems to be common knowledge in the scientific and medical community but I have been unable to find any information on the process itself or the level of minerals the body can absorb (over a 3 hour soak for example-perhaps our ability to measure this just isn't there yet). Manitou contains many minerals but calcium and magnesium appear to be the most important as they are common mineral deficiencies in our diets. It is also interesting to note that many sources quoted mineral deficiencies as a leading cause to most diseases. Also of note, our bodies can't produce minerals as it can with other nutrients.

Article

Of the mineral present in certain waters, two are in amounts which can constitute a useful complement to often deficient diets: calcium and magnesium.

Article

Calcium, magnesium and sulfate rich mineral waters have a particularly high content of these minerals essential to man throughout life. Research works show the benefits of the waters with a high mineral content to prevent various pathologies. Their effects on an increasingly frequent disease, osteoporosis, are currently being investigated. Article

The food supply has been steadily becoming magnesium-poor since 1909. 318
1909 intake 408 mg/day
1949 intake 368 mg/day
1980 intake 349 mg/day
1985 intake 323 mg/day (men)
1985 intake 228 mg/day (women)

Explanations for the decline of magnesium in the American diet include more food processing 319,320,321, soil-exhaustion 322,323,324,325,326,327,328, the FDA's destruction of the American mineral water industry in the 1930's 329,330,331, and the development of softer tap water reservoirs to replace the hard water of streams and wells. 332,333,334,335,336,337

Article

Claire has granted me permission to fill you all in on her work and I am sure there is something to be gained by everyone. While surfing the 'net last summer Claire was alarmed to discover that an excess of 20 million people world wide die each year as a result of Magnesium deficiency. Further research revealed that Mg2+ intake is not the same as uptake. When Mg2+ is ingested with fatty foods it turns to Mg soaps and it passes through the body without doing much good. Medical literature states that drinking mineral water with a high Mg2+ content ie., 70 p.p.m-90 p.p.m is a very economical and efficient means of supplying a rich intake of Mg2+. This would prevent cardiovascular disease.

Mr. Paul Mason, President of the Bottled Water Association of America, billionaire-owner of the Adobe Springs in California, U.S.A., E-mailed Claire on a few occasions and requested her analysis information. It is interesting to note that he has filed a multi- million dollar law suit against the Secretary of Health in the U.S.A for allowing bottled waters which are deficient in Mg to be marketed and sold, thereby resulting in an annual death rate of 1735 people in the U.S.A alone.

Article

CALCIUM - vital for bone tissue, proper functioning of muscles, relaxation. SILICA - for bone formation (acts like carbon fibre in steel - makes them strong without being heavy), not found in processed food. MAGNESIUM - good for muscles, essential for proper functioning of kidneys. BICARBONATE - balances the pH in the blood IRON - is more easily absorbed in water, enables red blood cells to carry oxygen, also vital for the formation of haemoglobin. SULPHATE - purifies the liver. SODIUM - fluid mineral - prevents stomach disorders POTASSIUM - for overall mental health, eg. combats depression and hysteria CHLORIDE - for glands, eg. prevents skin disorders, inflammation, etc.


Spas as Curative

Article

In language, ritual, and daily hygiene, we mark our kinship to the many people who took themselves to Spa, Bath, Buxton, Plombières, Lourdes, and Baden. But few of us today take baths to cure paralysis, ease gout or rheumatism, soothe an ulcer, or treat ailments of the liver or the heart. Bathing for medicinal purposes went out with horse-drawn carriages, a quaint but outmoded practice of people less sophisticated than ourselves. The question we must pose is whether medicinal bathing was also an effective technology bypassed by subsequent developments or whether it was a form of quackery that resulted in mass delusion. Were all the doctors who presided at mineral springs taking advantage of the sick people who flocked there? Were all the people who swore by their bathing regimens simply deceived? Or was the proverbial baby tossed out with the bath water when balneotherapy, as it is called, was finally discarded by the medical profession?

Around 1983 Drs. J. P. O'Hare, Audrey Heywood, and their colleagues at the Royal Infirmary in Bristol, England, decided to try to answer these questions. Experts in the physiological effects of head-out immersion (sitting in water up to the neck), the team decided to test the physiological effects of an actual mineral spring bath. In what Harold Conn, a professor of internal medicine at Yale, has called a "delicious" episode, O'Hare, Heywood, and the rest of the team approached the Bath City Council for permission to use water from one of the hot-spring baths. These baths, along with all other therapeutic spas in Great Britain, had been closed a number of years previously as a cost-cutting measure, and public funds for their medicinal use had been withdrawn. Though unable to use the baths on site, O'Hare obtained permission to cart some of the spa water to Bristol.

The research quickly became an adventure with distinct overtones of a Monty Python comedy. O'Hare's team pumped five hundred gallons of Bath mineral water into a "bowser," or water tank on wheels, and hauled it to the Bristol Royal Infirmary by taxi. Once there the scientists tried pumping the water straight from the tank in the parking lot to the immersion laboratory five floors above ground. In a parody of scientific writing, they reported that, unfortunately, "pump failure supervened," and "attempts at resuscitation failed." Not to be deterred, however, a team of "healthy volunteers" worked up a good sweat by carrying the five hundred gallons of mineral water into the building by hand. By this time clearly aware of the comic nature of their enterprise, the team even made a photographic record of the project's staggering steps.

Once the experimental baths were filled, O'Hare and his colleagues reënacted a spa "cure" on eight unidentified subjects (evidence strongly suggests that they were the eight team members themselves). Like patients at Bath in the eighteenth century, each volunteer drank water upon waking and spent the morning immersed up to the neck in a warm (35 degrees centigrade) mineral-water bath. Periodically the unimmersed researchers drew blood, collected urine output, and monitored the volunteers' blood flow and heart functions.

As the measurements accumulated, O'Hare, Heywood, and the others recognized their similarity to experimental data they and other investigators had gathered over the previous decade for quite other reasons. One of the earliest studies on record of the physiological effects of prolonged head-out bathing was performed by the American physiologist H. C. Bazett around 1920. Bazett observed that a marked diuresis, or increased urinary excretion, was one of the most characteristic effects of such baths on healthy men. Further study demonstrated that whether the water was cold, tepid, or warm made no difference in this effect, but full immersion of the trunk of the body did. Partial immersion of the limbs alone, or even the shallow immersion of a home bathtub, did not cause increased urination. Sitting up to the neck in a pool for a few hours, however, clearly increased the excretion of water, salts, and urea, the chief components of urine... The true novelty of the O'Hare study is that it was the first to link spa therapies with the known physiological effects of bathing and conclude that such therapies in the past may therefore have had true medicinal value.

The sort of therapeutic value it had largely depended upon the physiological effects of water immersion, which went beyond excretory functions. Because all of the body's systems are integrated, the excretion of water, salt, and urea necessarily affects many other functions as well, especially regulation of blood volume and pressure. Head-out immersion creates greater pressure on the lower body relative to the upper body. Blood is therefore compressed out of the limbs and into the trunk, like toothpaste in a tube squeezed from the bottom up. Volume receptors in the trunk sense the rise in blood volume and elicit compensatory mechanisms, such as urination, to return the volume to normal by reducing the amount of water in the blood. At the same time, because water is supporting the body, the effects of gravity are lessened, and blood pressure drops. What this means therapeutically is that people in the past who had hypertension (high blood pressure), circulatory problems, or one of the many diseases in which fluid is retained probably benefited from prolonged bathing in spa waters.

During the 1970s, recognition that immersion affects control of blood volume led Murray Epstein and other investigators, including Daniel Bichet of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, to use it as a research tool in the study of specific diseases characterized by blood-volume imbalances. These include liver, kidney, and heart ailments resulting in excessive fluid retention. Cirrhosis of the liver results in retention of salt, decreased urination, and the consequent buildup of fluid (as much as twenty-eight liters!) in the tissues of the abdomen, a condition known as ascites. Dropsy --- what we today call edema --- is most often associated with nephrotic syndrome (a degeneration of the kidneys) and congestive heart failure, both of which can cause very noticeable swelling of the limbs due to fluid retention. (If you ever noticed that Great-Grandma's ankles looked twice as fat as her shoes, she probably had some form of dropsy.) Without intervention, both edema and ascites can become progressively worse, because the body "misinterprets" what is going on. Buildup of fluid in tissues can result in decreased blood volume, which the body's sensors read as a signal to increase fluid retention. For reasons that are still not fully understood, however, in disease states the additional fluid moves inappropriately into body tissues rather than remaining in the blood. A vicious cycle that can lead to death begins.

Most modern cases of liver disease complicated by ascites can be satisfactorily treated with drugs that increase urination. But patients with refractory ascites, unresponsive to conventional treatment, pose a special problem. Some physicians wondered if water immersion could be manipulated clinically; in other words, could the diuresis observed in research subjects with ascites --- as modest as it was --- be used to control or cure the condition? In one case reported in 1987, a middle-aged tax inspector with ascites failed to respond to drug therapy. Over the course of some ten days he took three prolonged up-to-the-neck baths along with drug therapy and experienced the complete elimination of his ascites. The physicians responsible for his treatment --- and they included the Dr. O'Hare who tested the mineral waters of Bath suggested that "the use of...diuretics combined with water immersion is a safe and effective method of treating those cirrhotics with ascites who fail to respond to conventional treatment." Subsequently, physicians in Germany, Poland, and the former Czechoslovakia repeated the clinical combination of diuretics and water immersion with equally beneficial results.

Early in the 1980s immersion was also seriously considered as a medical therapy for patients suffering from a range of kidney diseases. Experimental research by two different groups indicated that nephrotic patients experienced much the same physical effects from immersion as the normal or cirrhotic bather. Some patients lost up to two kilograms of fluid in the form of sweat as well as urine, which brought about an obvious diminution of edema. Even those who experienced no major fluid loss felt subjective relief from swollen ankles. The researchers concluded that prolonged bathing was not only simple and therapeutically promising but also psychologically beneficial. With some success physicians have even turned to water immersion in the attempt to reverse hepatorenal syndrome, a kind of kidney failure due to liver disease that is almost always fatal...

These modern studies tell us that for certain diseases involving fluid retention deep-water immersion was in the past --- and still is today --- an effective physical medicine. The surprising thing is that other diseases, some of which no longer plague us, may also have responded to bathing. Here we rejoin Audrey Heywood, a member of O'Hare's Bath water team, who reasoned that if urinary excretion of salts benefited conditions such as hypertension, the excretion of other substances may have effectively treated other diseases. She began by delving into the records maintained at the Bath Hospital since the early eighteenth century to see what physicians in the past had claimed to cure. She quickly found that one form of paralysis in particular, known as colica pictonum, apparently responded well to spa therapy.

Unheard of today, colica pictonumwas characterized by a short episode of severe abdominal colic (paroxysms of pain), followed by a permanent palsy, or loss of sensation and control, in the hands or arms. Of the paralytic patients treated at Bath, seven percent suffered from this condition, and most were considered incurable by other doctors using other methods. According to hospital records, resident physicians believed that bathing in Bath waters completely cured almost half of these colica pictonum patients and obviously benefited nearly all. Heywood's next question was why spa therapy should have served these patients so well. She found her clue in the cause of the disease. In 1768 it was recognized that a number of palsies initially thought to be distinct from one another and from colica pictonum were, in fact, all caused by chronic lead poisoning. Since Roman times lead poisoning had been common in Europe, due to the use of the metal in water pipes, earthenware, cooking pots, pewter plates and tankards, cosmetics, hair dyes, and medicines. Lead absorbed through the mucous membranes or skin preferentially concentrates in the nerves, leading to such symptoms as uncontrollable shaking, loss of sensation, weakness in the limbs, numbness, deafness, impotence, memory loss, and confusion. Many cases of colic, paralysis, and abnormal mental behavior throughout the ages were therefore probably caused by lead poisoning in one form or another; in the eighteenth century it was often the result of drinking rum and other liquors fermented in lead stills.

Once Heywood knew that colica pictonum was caused by lead poisoning, everything else fell into place. First of all, she knew that one of the substances excreted during immersion is calcium. Second, she knew that ingested lead replaces calcium in many physiological systems. Perhaps, she hypothesized, bathing had the same effect on lead in the body as it has on calcium. This led to another experiment. A new immersion study was undertaken in which the amount of lead excreted in urine was measured during three-hour baths in warm water up to the neck. The results confirmed that excretion of lead, as of sodium and calcium, does increase during bathing. Although the amount of lead excreted in one three-hour bath is small, several such baths per week over some twenty-four weeks --- typical for a cure at Bath in the eighteenth century would have significantly reduced the amount of lead in the body. Drinking the waters, an additional mode of therapy at most bathing sites, would also have increased the amount of urine produced and therefore the amount of lead excreted. As long as additional ingestion of lead was avoided, as was likely to be the case for patients following the regimen of eating and drinking recommended by spa physicians, the paralysis of colica pictonumcould be completely reversed, just as the Bath records indicated.

Heywood went on to conjecture that this simple internal cleansing of the body by repeated bathing may have brought relief from other symptoms of lead poisoning as well, such as lassitude, headaches, and infertility, all of which were common complaints among people attending European spas in the past. Perhaps most striking is the connection between lead poisoning and gout, a condition in which excess uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints of the big toe, the ankle, and the knee, causing protuberant swelling and acute attacks of pain. Today we understand gout to be primarily an inherited disorder, resulting from the inability to metabolize or break down an excretory product called uric acid. Small, regular doses of lead can also induce gout in susceptible people.

In the eighteenth century this sort of gout appears to have reached epidemic proportions among wealthy English landowners and merchants with an excessive fondness for port contaminated with lead from storage in lead-lined casks or from contact with leaded pewter. Indeed, the image of the corpulent, well-to-do man, his foot wrapped in bandages, was indelibly etched in satirical scenes of spa towns like Bath. Deepwater bathing probably reversed cases of lead-induced gout by increasing the excretion of the metabolic poison. Inherited forms of gout, usually associated with an inability to urinate copiously, may not have responded as well to immersion. However, if the sufferer also drank large amounts of water, as was recommended, even inherited gout may have been somewhat alleviated, since any induced urination would also mean the excretion of uric acid. Spa therapies were certainly prescribed for gouty patients through the 1930s in the United States and continue to be used today in conjunction with drug therapy in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Russia. In premodern times the term "gout" actually referred to any rheumatic inflammatory disease: rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, inherited gout, lead-associated gout, and so forth. Well aware of this, Heywood, O'Hare, and their associates had already tried head-out immersion in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic and progressive inflammation, swelling, and stiffening of the joints. In 1984 they immersed seven rheumatic patients and, sure enough, found that as urination increased, joint swelling decreased. "These physiological changes could be important in modifying disease processes in patients using water immersion as a therapy," they concluded. In fact, in a number of countries, including Israel and Japan, mineral-spring bathing has long been prescribed for the treatment of rheumatic complaints, including rheumatoid arthritis and a related problem called ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine). In some of these instances, the healing effects of increased circulation due to the warmth of the water cannot be separated from the benefits of greater fluid excretion. Researchers have not yet adequately appraised the therapeutic mechanisms, but frankly the patients don't care. They feel better, and that's what counts for them.

In sum, mineral-spring bathing was no mass delusion of yesteryear, but was, rather, a historically viable medical therapy. It may have been an overstatement for an eighteenth-century postcard to proclaim Bath waters "the Most Sovereign Restorative," but it wasn't too far off in claiming that the waters were :

"Wonderful and most EXCELLENT against all diseases of the body proceeding of a MOIST CAUSE as Rhumes, Agues, Lethargies, Apoplexies, The Scratch, Inflammation of the Fits, hectic flushes, Pockes, deafness, forgetfulness, shakings and WEAKNESS of any Member ---Approved by authoritie, confirmed by Reason and daily tried by experience."

Article

Modern research confirms that deep-water bathing is good for cirrhosis of the liver with ascites, kidney disease with edema, lead-induced paralysis of the arms, lead-induced gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and simple high blood pressure.

Therapy using mineral water spas combined with massage is being used increasingly for work-related diseases such as back problems and tinosinavitus. It is also proving very effective for rehabilitation after accidents. Rheumatism, arthritus and gout sufferers find great relief through spa therapy as do many heart disease patients.Balneotherapy has to be seen as part of a whole process of treatment and does not offer a full cure in itself. The combination of benefits from drinking mineral water and using various mineral water treatments goes a long way towards creating a framework for better nutrition and relief for aches and pains.


The counter-attack to scientific research

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I went hunting for recent research on the benefits of mineral water, and soon found myself in international territory. Current articles are all in Italian or French or Russian, reflecting the regions where the wrinkling rites are still in vigorous practice. Looking for an English-speaker fluent in mineral medicine, I finally found history professor Jonathan DeVierville, who owns Alamo Spa in San Antonio, Texas.

"What is the basis of all acne products?" he asks me. "Sulfur. What did the Army use to treat wounds, even until the 40s? Sulfur. It's a natural bactericide." Hot springs, he continues, stimulate metabolism and circulation, which fight rheumatoid arthritis. Carbon dioxide, the gas that bubbles out of many springs, stimulates circulation. Even water rendered faintly radioactive by radon is prized for relieving arthritis, he says.

One Italian spa advertising on the Internet claims that bathing in its hot springs treats joint and muscle disorders, nerve inflammation and circulatory problems. Drinking the waters aids liver and bile disorders, high cholesterol and constipation; and its stimulant effect treats the blood disorder hyperuricemia and obesity.

These days U.S. federal regulations forbid advertising unproven health claims -- which include nearly all those described above. It is true that hot water relaxes muscles strained by sports and arthritis, and that very hot water can elevate your pulse and metabolism, if only modestly.


Our Ancestors believed in it

Native Americans used them for healing, and when they showed them to immigrant Americans, the immigrants built spas around a few of them. Until the 1940s, the federal government itself operated a special Arkansas spa for treating venereal disease. But among Americans, the popularity of "taking the waters" had already begun to wither at the end of the 1800s, as scientific inquiry bloomed.

Historian and spa owner DeVierville argues that seeking health at a spring was never about such narrow science as chemistry. A traditional European spa kur, he says, might involve 18 baths over two or three weeks, plus good food, daily exercise and an escape from stress. Wealthy Euros of the Middle Ages discovered that just getting out of town could prove healthful. Out in the countryside, plagues were less likely to catch up with you, especially if you were drinking clean water. Spring water was bottled, so that even the town-bound could partake of the elixir.


So, while there is some scientific support for wallowing, it seems that mineral-water bathing is one of those holistic treatments that prepares the body to heal itself.

Holistic approaches give science a migraine. Traditionally, science investigates one variable at a time, matching one remedy to one ill. How would you measure, scientifically, the health benefits of sitting in a spring that is hot and bubbly and sulfurous and radioactive and relaxing and far from a telephone ... ?

Yes, science recognizes that happy people often heal more quickly than unhappy people. And yes, you can feel certain that installing a Jacuzzi at your palace would help make you happy. But I suspect even Charlemagne would have had trouble sliding that bill past his health-insurance company.

Article (The Cure - past, present and future)

"The Cure" is the expression that has traditionally been given to the treatment programme at a spa. Victorian prints depict anxious patients being subjected to sprays, douches, cold baths and wrapping in wet sheets. This is the popular notion of hydrotherapy as it was and is one that has done little to maintain the credibility of a branch of medicine that has existed for many thousands of years, in fact since the dawn of civilisation. The Cure was a serious business but was only part of the spa experience. Spa resorts have traditionally sought to address the problems of mind, body and soul and this has resulted in a range of activities being available to the spa visitor. These have included the arts - with theatre, music and the ballet, outdoor recreation, debauchery and frolics, dancing, religion, gambling as well as drinking or bathing in the waters in many different manners. Such activities were often carried out in an environment of lavish architecture, grandiose parks and a strong social hierarchy.

As the evolution of the water cure gained pace and the relationship between spa treatments and orthodox medicine in the form of drugs and surgery progressed, the water cure offered many attractions for 17th and 18th century patients. One of these was the possibility of fewer harms being done through the Cure than with alternatives. The other was the possibility of engaging in many of the other activities at the spa resort. Some of these pastimes were particularly influential in creating a feeling of well being, often divorced from the more direct physical effects of the prescriptions. In fact many people took the season at the spa without actually taking a prescribed course of treatment. Hydrotherapy as a particular form of spa treatment was introduced in the 19th century. This took its place in what was a whole range of treatments that underpinned orthodox medicine and this is very much the case with what are termed spa treatments today.

The modern spa offers an holistic approach to well being and is relevant to those who want to stay healthy as well as those seeking to remedy a particular ailment. Spa treatments continue to provide enjoyment as well as the possible cure, and in many countries in the world going to a spa is a normal practice and accepted as effective and appropriate. In the United Kingdom, the boundaries to mainstream medicine are expanding and as a result, opening the door to the reintroduction of spas.

The future spa facility will develop further the idea of a resort rather than an isolated treatment centre. Underpinning the cure aspect will be a wide range of facilities and entertainments, cultural, social and recreational. These will be presented in an environment that is conducive to well being, both body and mind. There is ample scope for specialisation and resorts that will not all compete for the same market segments. New sources of finance for spa goers will to an extent shape the product and the resort of the future. Rehabilitation and sports injury is a growing market opportunity and the rapidly extending responsibility of employers for employee welfare suggests scope for treating stress related illness. The private insurance and commercial sectors are the funders of the future, replacing antiquated National Health Service physiotherapy pools with up to date establishments. In addition, the vast resources of the populace, with ever-increasing disposable income, will mean that the stay healthy client will form an important market for not only spa treatments but also all the entertainments and other facilities of a modern health resort.


Historical Points of interest

Article

The water cure represented a more holistic approach to healing, whether it was in the UK or abroad, more often than not in Continental Europe. Bathing and massages were certainly ways of making the patient feel better and drinking the water at worst caused purging, and that was usually no bad thing. Not only did taking the cure involve water however; the spa location was often in pleasant countryside and if a town, there would be parks and gardens in which to promenade and socialise. Then there was the entertainment. The Theatre and the Assembly Rooms provided a constant stream of events that often involved dancing, combining fun with exercise. Sports were laid on, often with the small wager being placed on a likely winner. The spas were no strangers to horse racing and in fact the sport developed alongside the other infrastructure of the spa. Gambling and the Casino provided entertainment for those of like mind.

Those who could afford it flocked to the spas, often for several weeks at a time, to recover from ailments described as Melancholy, Distempers and the King's Evil as well as terms that we are familiar with today. This caused a social hierarchy to emerge at the spas and between rival resorts. At their zenith, Bath and Tunbridge Wells were typical of those patronised by the elite. This in turn cultivated a social scene that only the unambitious or the poor could afford to ignore. Less publicised were the sexual goings on. With such a social intercourse it is little wonder that many saw the opportunity of a modest debauch. The result was that spas became a place to enjoy oneself, all in the interests of good health. In fact doctors recommended the enjoyment as a remedy. With hindsight it is possible to conclude that a combination of genuine benefits from the mineral waters, a regime that encouraged the body's natural healing to function and feeling good as a result of having a good time, all combined to make the spa resort worthy of patronage.

For many, a visit might involve a relatively short period in the day for actual treatment or taking the waters. The rest of the day was spent at leisure or suitable mind developing pursuits. Charles Darwin developed his thesis on origins of the species at Moor Park Spa near Farnham. Others wrote less serious works often intended to amuse and record the season at a particular establishment.

Article (The Cure - past, present and future)

"The Cure" is the expression that has traditionally been given to the treatment programme at a spa. Victorian prints depict anxious patients being subjected to sprays, douches, cold baths and wrapping in wet sheets. This is the popular notion of hydrotherapy as it was and is one that has done little to maintain the credibility of a branch of medicine that has existed for many thousands of years, in fact since the dawn of civilisation. The Cure was a serious business but was only part of the spa experience. Spa resorts have traditionally sought to address the problems of mind, body and soul and this has resulted in a range of activities being available to the spa visitor. These have included the arts - with theatre, music and the ballet, outdoor recreation, debauchery and frolics, dancing, religion, gambling as well as drinking or bathing in the waters in many different manners. Such activities were often carried out in an environment of lavish architecture, grandiose parks and a strong social hierarchy.

As the evolution of the water cure gained pace and the relationship between spa treatments and orthodox medicine in the form of drugs and surgery progressed, the water cure offered many attractions for 17th and 18th century patients. One of these was the possibility of fewer harms being done through the Cure than with alternatives. The other was the possibility of engaging in many of the other activities at the spa resort. Some of these pastimes were particularly influential in creating a feeling of well being, often divorced from the more direct physical effects of the prescriptions. In fact many people took the season at the spa without actually taking a prescribed course of treatment. Hydrotherapy as a particular form of spa treatment was introduced in the 19th century. This took its place in what was a whole range of treatments that underpinned orthodox medicine and this is very much the case with what are termed spa treatments today.

The modern spa offers an holistic approach to well being and is relevant to those who want to stay healthy as well as those seeking to remedy a particular ailment. Spa treatments continue to provide enjoyment as well as the possible cure, and in many countries in the world going to a spa is a normal practice and accepted as effective and appropriate. In the United Kingdom, the boundaries to mainstream medicine are expanding and as a result, opening the door to the reintroduction of spas.

The future spa facility will develop further the idea of a resort rather than an isolated treatment centre. Underpinning the cure aspect will be a wide range of facilities and entertainments, cultural, social and recreational. These will be presented in an environment that is conducive to well being, both body and mind. There is ample scope for specialisation and resorts that will not all compete for the same market segments. New sources of finance for spa goers will to an extent shape the product and the resort of the future. Rehabilitation and sports injury is a growing market opportunity and the rapidly extending responsibility of employers for employee welfare suggests scope for treating stress related illness. The private insurance and commercial sectors are the funders of the future, replacing antiquated National Health Service physiotherapy pools with up to date establishments. In addition, the vast resources of the populace, with ever-increasing disposable income, will mean that the stay healthy client will form an important market for not only spa treatments but also all the entertainments and other facilities of a modern health resort.




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