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Balneotherapy (from Latin: balneum, "bath") is the treatment of disease by bathing.[1 ] While it is considered distinct from hydrotherapy,[2 ] there are some overlaps in practice and in underlying principles. Balneotherapy may involve hot or cold water, massage through moving water, relaxation or stimulation. Many mineral waters at spas are rich in particular minerals (silica, sulfur, selenium, radium) which can be absorbed through the skin. Medicinal clays are also widely used, which practice is known as 'fangotherapy'.

Contents

Definition and characteristics

The term "balneotherapy" is generally applied to everything relating to spa treatment, including the drinking of waters and the use of hot baths and natural vapor baths, as well as of the various kinds of mud and sand used for hot applications. Balneotherapy refers to the medical use of these spas, as opposed to recreational use. Common minerals found in spa waters are sodium, magnesium, calcium and iron, as well as arsenic, lithium, potassium, manganese, bromine, and iodine. Resorts may also add minerals or essential oils to naturally-occurring hot springs. Though balneotherapy commonly refers to mineral baths, the term may also apply to water treatments using regular hot or cold tap water.

Mud-baths are also included in balneotherapy, and the dirt and water used to mix mud baths may also contain minerals which are thought to have beneficial properties.

"Mud is very beneficial in both beauty and medical treatment."[3]

Treatment of diseases

Treatment bath at a spa in Hot Springs, Arkansas, United States

Balneotherapy may be recommended for wide range of illnesses, including arthritis,[4] skin conditions and fibromyalgia.[5] As with any medical treatment, balneotherapy should be discussed with a physician before beginning treatment, since a number of conditions, like heart disease and pregnancy, can result in a serious adverse reaction.

Scientific studies into the effectiveness of balneotherapy tend to be neutral or positive, finding that balneotherapy provides no effect or a placebo effect, or that there is a positive effect. However, many of these studies suffer from methodological flaws, and so may not be entirely reliable.[6][7] A 2009 review of all published clinical evidence concluded that existing research is not sufficiently strong to draw firm conclusions about effectiveness of balneotherapy for any medical condition.[8]

See also

Some notable spas

References

  1. ^ Angus Stevenson, ed (2007). "Definition of balneo therapy". Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 1: A-M (6th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-19-920687-2.  
  2. ^ Unsigned article (1910-1911). "Balneotherapeutics". in …. The Encyclopaedia Britannica. III. New York: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. pp. 284–285 (300-301 in electronic page field). http://ia311326.us.archive.org//load_djvu_applet.php?file=2/items/EncyclopaediaBritannica1911HQDJVU/Encyclopedia_Britannica_03_Austria_lower_-_Bisectrix.djvu. Retrieved 5 December 2009.  
  3. ^ Jane Crebbin-Bailey, John W. Harcup, John Harrington, The Spa Book: The Official Guide to Spa Therapy.‎ Publisher: Cengage Learning EMEA, 2005. p. 1959 ISBN 1861529171
  4. ^ Sukenik S (1999). "Balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area for knee osteoarthritis". IMAJ 1 (2): 83–85. PMID 10731301.  
  5. ^ Deniz Evcik (June 2002). "The effects of balneotherapy on fibromyalgia patients". Rheumatology International 22 (2): 56–59. doi:10.1007/s00296-002-0189-8.  
  6. ^ Verhagen AP (January 2004). "Balneotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000518. PMID 10796385.  
  7. ^ Verhagen AP (October 1997). "Taking baths: the efficacy of balneotherapy in patients with arthritis. A systematic review". J Rheumatol 24 (10): 1964–71. PMID 9330940.  
  8. ^ Falagas ME et al. (2009). "The therapeutic effect of balneotherapy: Evaluation of the evidence from randomized controlled trials". International Journal of Clinical Practice 63: 1068. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02062.x. PMID 19570124.  

Bibliography

  • Nathaniel Altman, Healing springs: the ultimate guide to taking the waters : from hidden springs to the world's greatest spas. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company, 2000. ISBN 0892818360
  • Dian Dincin Buchman, The complete book of water healing. 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001. ISBN 0658013785
  • Jane Crebbin-Bailey, John W. Harcup, John Harrington, The Spa Book: The Official Guide to Spa Therapy.‎ Publisher: Cengage Learning EMEA, 2005. ISBN 1861529171
  • Esti Dvorjetski, Leisure, pleasure, and healing: spa culture and medicine in ancient eastern Mediterranean., Brill, 2007 (illustrated). ISBN 900415681X
  • Carola Koenig, Specialized Hydro-, Balneo-and Medicinal Bath Therapy. Publisher: iUniverse, 2005. ISBN 0595365086
  • Anne Williams, Spa bodywork: a guide for massage therapists. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006. ISBN 0781755786
  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Balneotherapeutics". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.  
  • Unsigned article (1910-1911). "Balneotherapeutics". in …. The Encyclopaedia Britannica. III. New York: The Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. pp. 284–285 (300-301 in electronic page field). http://ia311326.us.archive.org//load_djvu_applet.php?file=2/items/EncyclopaediaBritannica1911HQDJVU/Encyclopedia_Britannica_03_Austria_lower_-_Bisectrix.djvu. Retrieved 5 December 2009.   Alternative online source (scanned document).







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