Healing Spring Water
Healing spring water, infused with natural goodness from beneath the earth's surface, is the main factor in traditional spas in Europe, where the practice of bathing for health is called Balneotherapy.
Bathing in mineral-rich spring water, and also drinking it in small quantities under medical advice, can help promote physical well-being and cure various conditions.
In fact, the term of "Spa" comes from a place with the same name in Belgium, a mountain area. (Spa means "fountain" in Walloon language). Here, in 14 century, an iron-rich spring was used by a iron master to cure his rheumatism, and he founded a health resort, which became famous.
Spring water gains minerals as it is filtered through layers of underground rock. As the water soaks through permeable rocks, minerals such as calcium, sulphur and magnesium dissolve into it. When it reaches a layer of impermeable rock, the water flows out onto the earth's surface in the form of a spring. Spring water was very important to our ancestors as it is pure, clean and drinkable directly from the source.
The healing effect of spring water comes mostly from its mineral content, but also from its high level of negative ions. These contribute to physical and psychological health in a variety of ways, such as increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain, improving digestion and strengthening the immune system
The mineral properties of spring water vary from region to region and even from spring to spring, therefore each type of spring water has different therapeutic properties depending on its mineral composition. Water from hot springs, where the water is heated underground by the 'geothermal' heat of the rocks, is especially high in minerals. Spring water also has different effects depending on whether we use it for bathing (balneotherapy), inhaling or drinking.
Doctors often rave about spring water's ability to treat even the most uncomfortable skin ailments. When absorbed though the skin, trace minerals from water can provide impressive healing effects. In Japan, visitors to the thermal springs of Kusatsu have been using the highly acidic spring waters for thousands of years in order to treat many types of skin condition. The high sulfur content means the Kusatsu spring water cleanses the skin intensely and cures uncomfortable skin ailments such as dermatosis. Water with high levels of sulfur is also renowned for healing acne, fungal infections and psoriasis.
spa resorts throughout Europe offer various types of balneotherapy and skin treatments. The world-famous La Roche-Posay Spa is known as the 'spa capital of Europe' and treats 10,000 visitors a year. Visitors are often referred to the spa by their physician to treat conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne and scarring.
Described as 'velvet water', the mineral-rich water at La Roche-Posay calms itching, heals abrasions and regenerates skin. The water is known to contain beneficial amounts of selenium, an antioxidant which promotes DNA synthesis and cellular growth, and can play a vital role in fighting cancer. The spring water is also high in silica and calcium, which are excellent for healing and regenerating the skin.
Inhaling healing mineral water as vapor can be an effective treatment for asthma, sinus problems, allergies and other respiratory problems. Water vapor is also a medically-approved method, as many doctors recommend humidifiers for individuals with asthma and chronic sinusitis. However, while this is an effective home remedy, there is no substitute for visiting a natural spring and enjoying the benefits of the mineral-rich water at source.
In some European spa clinics, spring water is inhaled as mist via an oxygen mask or with an inhaler. Some spa resorts, such as Bad Wildbad in Germany, come equipped with an 'inhalation fountain'. The fountain releases a mineral-infused mist of water vapor for visitors to inhale as they stand over it. Visitors can control the spray by pushing a button.
Vapors can also be inhaled by sitting in a steam room, which are sometimes scented with eucalyptus, a powerful decongestant useful for clearing mucus caused by allergies or the common cold.
Depending on the mineral content of the water, inhaling water vapor can even have an anti-depressant effect. At the Rancho Rio Calienta spa in Mexico, the hot mineral springs contain traces of lithium, a mineral often used in the treatment of depression. The vapor of this particular spring water is used in the steam room at the resort, and after a session inhaling the vapour, visitors find they feel relaxed and mellow.
Although they should only be consumed under the direction of a health professional, mineral spring waters are often recommended to treat a wide range of disorders, including problems with the stomach and small intestine such as gastroenteritis, ulcers and constipation. The minerals in spring water are absorbed through the semi-permeable membranes of the digestive tract, improving its function. Research has shown that drinking sodium-rich spring water increases blood flow to the stomach and enhances its ability to eliminate toxins.
Drinking carbonated spring waters over a 4-week period has also been shown to reduce stomach acid, which is beneficial to patients with chronic gastritis, inflammation of the duodenum or a stomach ulcer.
Additional benefits of drinking mineral-rich healing spring water include:
- Potassium found in some spring water regulates blood pressure and prevents muscle contractions/cramp.
- Water rich in calcium strengthens bones and teeth, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
- Water rich in magnesium can help maintain heart, muscle and nerve function, and may prevent hypertension. Magnesium also supports a healthy immune system.
Spa resorts offer an abundance of medical treatments using healing spring water, sea water and land alternative practices offering different health benefits in addition to relieving stress.