The Benefits of Hot Springs
“Come ye who suffer, and lose your pain…” read a sign near Congress Spring, NY in 1867. Since the late 18th century those natural waters have been hailed as a cure for everything from dyspepsia to gout. But Congress is far from the first natural hot spring to be celebrated for its healthful benefits. People have “taken the waters” for thousands of years as a cure for ailments both common and complex. That tradition continues today all across the globe.
Ancient Practices, Scientific Results
The treatment of disease through bathing is known as balneotherapy, taken from the Latin word “balneum” for a bath. It is a fitting root, as bath therapy is an ancient remedy, stretching as far back as the Ancient Romans and beyond. In our modern world driven by synthetics and pharmaceuticals, it may be surprising that such an old form of traditional medicine is still recommended today. That’s because it still works, with science to back up the claims.
Conditions Soothed by Hot Springs
A number of studies published in professional, peer-reviewed scientific journals show clear evidence that soaking in a hot spring yields benefits for a wide range of ailments. These conditions include:
- Fibromyalgia – Bathing in mineral-rich thermal waters provided medium to large reductions in pain for those with fibromyalgia. (Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2014)
- Psoriasis – Mineral and sulphuric waters from hot springs reduces inflammation and the development of scales, as well as antibacterial and antifungal qualities. (Serbian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology, 2015)
- Arthritis – Warm to hot water can ease the ache of several kinds of arthritis, with the most relief experienced by those who practice full-body immersion. (Israel Medical Association Journal, 1999)
Alongside joint and muscle pains, health centres such as Austin Heart in Texas promote balneotherapy as a way to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Eczema, and Varicose Veins. There is also evidence that bathing in hot springs can alleviate mental health symptoms like depression or anxiety.
Every type of medical treatment has a risk for side effects or other dangers. Hot springs are no different. However, proper observance and awareness will make sure your soothing dip will stay an enjoyable experience.
- First-Trimester Pregnancy. Every hot spring is different, some are hotter than others, and each has its own microbial environment. To newly pregnant women this can be dangerous in ways that wouldn’t affect someone closer to their due date. Play it safe and ask your doctor first before soaking.
- Keep your Head Up. Some natural springs can be home to a type of amoeba that causes meningitis. Since these nasty microorganisms enter the body through the nose, it is best to always keep your head above the water.
- Alcohol and Dehydration. It might sound strange, but hot water actually dehydrates your body. Drinking alcohol only exacerbates dehydration, and also intoxicates faster, leading to the danger of poisoning and drowning. Keep yourself hydrated with good clean water instead.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be ready to experience the rejuvenating benefits of hot springs!