so spa so good!

A brief history of spas

From a very early time our ancestors enjoyed the benefits of natural hot springs. The evidence of organized use of the thermal spring, dating back 5000 years, shows that the oldest known spa still in existence is in Merano, Italy.

The Egyptians used thermal baths for therapeutic purposes as early as 2000 BC. The Greeks built baths near hot springs and volcanoes around 500 BC. Hippocrates recommended hydrotherapy for the treatment of disorders such as jaundice and rheumatism.

The Romans built elaborate aquaduct systems carrying mineral waters throughout complex private rooms, steam rooms and public baths. The Belgian town of Spa, once part of Roman Empire, is where the word "spa" was derived. The word "spa" became a generic expression referring to natural mineral springs and surrounding areas where people came to relax and take "the Cure".

What is a spa?
By definition a spa is a place where there are curative waters, for instance thermal or mineral. Hence a true spa must have curative waters.

What is thermal water?
Firstly let us explain what thermal water is and where it comes from; why is it good for various ailments, and how can one explain its curative powers?

Most of the world's thermal water starts off as rainwater. There are many variations, but usually the water will penetrate the subsoil down to a depth of 8000 - 10,000 feet over 25, 50 or even 100 years, and cover many hundreds of miles from its origin to the point where it surfaces naturally in geyser form, or where it forms an underground thermal lake. There are a few exceptions, for instance natural thermal lakes in Hungary and New Zealand.

As it penetrates deeper into the earth it becomes greatly enriched with mineral salts and is progressively heated throughout its journey. The deeper it goes the hotter and richer it becomes. The water temperature varies from 41 degrees Celsius such as the Cross-Bath spring in Bath, to between 70 - 87 degrees Celsius in Abano Terme, Italy.

Most thermal waters are rich in salt, bromine, iodine, gases, and some waters are even slightly radioactive but not dangerously so.

Other types of water are mineral waters, the type that one drinks rather than baths in such as the famous mineral waters found in Montecatini in Italy, Rogaska in Slovenia or Bad Gastein in Austria. These mineral waters can have quite a profound effect, for instance the Rogaska Spa is particularly noted for its Magnesium content which has shown to be very beneficial in treating Diabetes.

There are absolutely numerous cures to speak of using natural and curative waters, but for this brochure we would like to tell you about Fangotherapy and Thalassotherapy and their astonishing abilities to aid and restore.

Fangotherapy
Fangotherapy uses clay mixed with thermal water and is "matured" for at least 6 months or even years. During that time the clay takes on the curative properties from the water; we then put the mud on our bodies and the body absorbs through the skin the various, highly beneficial trace elements and minerals.

Of particular interest is that, because the whole process is completely natural without any man made substances, the treatments have no negative side effects whatsoever. And what's more, it also makes a very cheap alternative when compared with conventional drug costs.

This treatment is particularly beneficial to Arthritis sufferers, as the fango removes the inflammation, improves circulation, and alleviates pain symptoms from the joints. In fact, the wonders of this therapy have long been a subject of much significance to one of the world's oldest universities - Padova University, Italy, so much so that they even have a whole department dedicated to its study.

For younger people this treatment relaxes the muscles, re-energises the whole body, destresses, extracts toxins and leaves you completely re-vitalised. People with respiratory and circulation problems also benefit greatly from this treatment.

Thalassotherapy
Simply put, Thalassotherapy is the therapeutic use of warm sea water - a proven, natural remedy. The origins are from the Greek words Thalassa meaning Sea, and Therapia meaning treatment.

The true Thalassotherapy Spa will draw pure seawater from off-shore and at depths of at least 4 metres through filters into its pools and treatment rooms. The water is then heated to body temperature (36 - 38 degrees Celsius), and at this stage it becomes very similar to our plasma, hence it's ability to be easily absorbed into our blood stream.

Thalassotherapy uses the marine climate, the sea, and its derivatives (algae, mud, and sand) for therapeutic purposes. Typically it combines a number of treatments, e.g. massages by pressure jets, marine aerosols, seaweed & mud packs.

Whether it's to remove physical and/or mental fatigue, or to revitalise sore muscles and joints caused by arthritis or sports pain, Thalassotherapy can help you feel better - naturally.

Food for thought

Did you know that our continental neighbours enjoy a tradition of having spa treatments on doctor's prescription...often free of charge? For example, Italian GP's can prescribe Fangotherapy to anyone they consider would benefit from it, paid for by their NHS.

Our question is why is this so? Are EU governments wasting their Health funds, or could it be that spa treatments are an effective & efficient way of dealing with certain problems and conditions? As one British consultant said after experiencing spa treatments:

"If only I could prescribe this on the NHS... it would bring the drugs bill right down."
(Financial Times, 31st Jan 98)

What mattered to the old Romans, matters to ministers and doctors across today's (continental) Europe, i.e.: are the treatments effective (do they work or not) and efficient (saving money and time)?

We would like to leave you with this thought....Is the UK contributing funds to the EU for medical purposes?

Now more than ever we all need the uplift & healing & fun of a true spa holiday!

Your body is your home, look after it well, for if you wear it out where are you going to live?

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