In the 21st century we have seen many holistic creations, and even some very bizarre remedies come into the limelight as societies continue to seek preventative care over symptom management and pharmaceutical dependency. While some of these alternative remedies have newer beginnings, as in the past twenty years, others have been around for thousands of years but were, unfortunately, being ignored by most Americans. One of the oldest healing practices is the simple act of bathing in warm mineral spring waters to induce natural healing within the body. This olden-day’s remedy comes from an actual scientific study of bathing, also known as balneology. Some refer to the study as balneotherapy, which in layman’s terms literally means, “treatment of disease by bathing.” Sounds simple enough, but how does it work?
When you take a soak in mineral waters your body receives healthy doses of magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc, sulfate, potassium, and iron just to name a few of the minerals needed for cell function. If our bodies did not contain adequate minerals, we would cease to exist, as minerals are used for our bones, muscles, heart, and brain function. Minerals also are key for our bodies’ production of various enzymes as well as hormone balancing. Our skin does an incredible job at protecting us from absorbing things that would harm us, however, when warm or hot water touches our skin, our pores open and allow substances to enter our bodies.
My first experience at a hot springs facility was this past January at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. There you will find warm mineral waters that have been used by Native Americans long before Europeans even knew of the New World. In 1748 our first President of the United States of America, Mr. George Washington himself began visiting the Berkeley Springs mineral waters as he understood the health benefits well. President Washington would travel from his home in Virginia to Berkeley Springs to fight off ailments throughout his hard life, and they seemed to work for him! When you arrive at the Spa you are taken to your own private room with a warm bathtub and hot towels waiting for you. Your skin feels silky smooth as soon as you exit the bath, even though no lotion has been applied. Outside of the many Spa facilities in “The Town of Bath” you can view parts of the natural springs where Washington and other figures throughout our history were known to have relaxed and healed in the waters.
If you have not experienced hot springs yet, be encouraged to do so today! Other than providing vital minerals to your body, there are many other healing benefits to balneology as it helps to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, improve metabolism, banish headaches, and relieve rheumatological diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Even if you are lucky enough to not need any of the improvements listed above, you can still benefit from mineral baths as they lower anxiety and stress and improve overall physiological and psychological health for your being.