Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hydrotherapeutic Spa, Part II: Hydrotherapy, Hot Springs, Spas

By Dave Armstrong (11-24-11)

From the introductory post:
The Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia notes ("Hydrotherapy"): "The use of water to treat rheumatic diseases has a long history. Today, hydrotherapy is used to treat arthritis, burns, spasticity, . . . musculoskeletal disorders, spinal cord injuries, and stroke patients with paralysis, . . . and to improve fitness. . . . A 2006 survey of research in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases discusses the vast amount of high-quality studies showing the effectiveness of hydrotherapy."

The basic benefits are well-summarized in
the article "Hydrotherapy" in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1985 edition, Vol. 6, 195): "Wet heat helps relieve pain and improves circulation; it also promotes relaxation and rest . . . Whirlpool tubs and the Hubbard tank are forms of underwater massage in which the water swirls in constant motion over legs and arms or the entire body to promote healing . . . Hydrotherapeutic methods are usually employed by specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation and by physical therapists." The composition of the human body is 65% water.

A typical example of the benefits of hot springs and spas, enjoyed for centuries, is the Hot Mineral Springs of Therma (Ikaria), Greece, in use since the 4th century B.C. A long, fascinating article about its therapeutic effects offers several facts that coincide with the characteristics of the SG-2000 spa, combined with mineral salts and oils:
The therapeutic effects of Ikaria's radioenergic hot mineral baths are delivered to the body primarily through inhalation while bathing (90%) with the remaining ten percent absorbed through the skin. . . .

Hydrotherapy in Ikaria's radioenergized hot mineral springs can have beneficial effects on the following diseases, disorders, and conditions:

* Chronic rheumatism
* Uric and other forms of arthritis
* Neuritis and other neurological disorders
* Respiratory diseases/disorders
* Endocrine gland disorders
* Cutaneous diseases and especially excema
* Gynecological diseases and sterility
* Allergies

. . . Hippocrates od Cos (460-375 B.C.),who is considered the founder of medical science and the father of hydrotherapy, paid great attention to the different natural waters which exist in marches and lakes, which are formed by rain and those which well out of rocks, namely mineral waters. These, he says, gush out and certain iron, copper, silver, gold, sulfur and other mineral elements.

. . . Well known Roman spas remain as historical monuments of architecture throughout Europe and also in Greece. Curative Spa-therapy has been finding wider application over the last two centuries. In many countries in Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Hungary,the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) new spa-therapy centers have been constructed which have superseded the old Roman baths. After the Second World War there were improvements or even new establishments whose operation was harmonized with modern medical approaches for the benefit of curative spa-therapy.

. . . To have effect, the thermal factor, the temperature of the water has to be 34°C or higher. Most springs of Icaria are above 38°C. The thermal factor acts in many ways: Namely, the straining of vessels, hyperemia, local perspiration relaxation of the muscles, improvement in the exchange of nutritious substances, and analgesia. At temperatures above 40°C there is absorption of fluid in the joints and penetration of mineral and radioactive elements which are beneficial in the treatment of various complaints.

As for the subconscious factor, its action is based on the laws of Archimedes which refer to elevation and to hydrostatic pressure. In water the human body becomes lighter, movements easier, muscle relaxation sets in, absorption of swellings and perspiration, and finally this has a benign influence on the human psych[e].

A more strictly medical recounting of the history of such water therapies is the article "A brief history of spa therapy," by A van Tubergen and S van der Linden (Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2002;61:273-275). It states in part:

The word "spa" may be derived from the Walloon word "espa" meaning fountain. This, in turn, came from the name of the Belgian town Spa, where in the 14th century a curative, thermal spring was discovered. Spa may also originate from the Latin word "spagere" (to scatter, sprinkle, moisten) or may be an acronym of the Latin phrase "sanitas per aquas" (health through water). In Britain, the word spa is still used, whereas in the rest of Europe the term "thermal waters" is preferred. Bathing in thermal water for therapeutic purposes has several descriptions (for example, taking the waters, balneotherapy, spa therapy, hydrotherapy), . . .

Around 1800 interest in the bathing culture grew. Further attempts to analyse the mineral water were made, aiming at improving its use in medicine, and at preparing mixtures of water identical to those mineral waters famous for their curative properties.10 Doctors were convinced that for each disease Mother Nature possessed an appropriate medicinal spring, which could be discovered through chemical analysis of the waters. Priessnitz and [Fr. Sebastian] Kneipp [a Bavarian Catholic priest] further developed the principles of balneotherapy (medicinal use of thermal water) and hydrotherapy (immersion of the body in thermal water for therapeutic purposes). Individual treatments were prescribed, based on the composition and temperature of the water. Also, combinations of treatments were developed consisting of hot and cold baths, herbal baths, mud packs, active physical exercises, massages, and diets. Kneipp advocated a holistic approach to the treatment of a disease. In contrast with the spa resorts, which aimed at the elite, Kneipp directed his attentions to the common man.

. . . After the second world war and with the rise in welfare, spa treatment became available for the common man in many European countries, mainly owing to reimbursement by state medical systems. Other activities and new treatments were introduced, and balneology, hydrotherapy, and physiotherapy underwent major developments.

In the past decades, a large change in the use of mineral water for the treatment of several diseases has taken place in continental Europe. The medical significance of bathing is now acknowledged, especially by many rheumatologists and dermatologists, and this aspect is considered more important for a number of spa resorts than prestige and leisure. Bathing is usually combined with many other treatments, such as physical exercises, hydrotherapy, and mud packs. The spa resorts are differentiated according to their location (for example, seaside, mountain area) and the chemical composition of their mineral water (for example, sulphurous, bicarbonated, or sulphated).

. . . In the past decade several randomised controlled trials have studied the effects of spa therapy in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Patients were randomly allocated to receive spa therapy or sham/no therapy.
Wikipedia, "Sebastian Kneipp":

Sebastian Kneipp (May 17, 1821, Stephansried, Germany – June 17, 1897 in Worishofen) was a Bavarian priest and one of the founders of the Naturopathic medicine movement. He is most commonly associated with the "Kneipp Cure" form of hydrotherapy, a system of healing involving the application of water through various methods, temperatures and pressures.

. . . Although most commonly associated with one area of Naturopathic medicine, Kneipp was the proponent of an entire system of healing, which rested on five main tenets:

* Hydrotherapy
* Herbalism – The use of botanical medicines.
* Exercise
* Nutrition - A wholesome diet of whole grains, fruits & vegetables with limited meat
* Spirituality - Kneipp believed that a healthy mind begot a healthy person

. . . Kneipp was able to counsel many people. Tens of thousands came from all over the world to receive his healing advice. He was the author of the books "My Water Cure", "Thus Shalt Thou Live", and "My Will".

Further Sources

1) Observations on the effect of immersion in Bath spa water, J P O'Hare, A Heywood, et al, British Medical Journal (Clin Res Ed). 1985 Dec 21-28;291(6511):1747-51.

2) Dead Sea bath salts for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, S. Sukenik et al, Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1990 Jul-Aug;8(4):353-7.

3) Effect of spa therapy in Tiberias on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, O. Elkayam et al, J Rheumatol. 1991 Dec;18(12):1799-803.

4) Long-term efficacy of radon spa therapy in rheumatoid arthritis—a randomized, sham-controlled study and follow-up, A. Franke et al, Rheumatology 2000; 39: 894-902.

5) Prolonged effects of 3 week therapy in a spa resort on lumbar spine, knee and hip osteoarthritis: follow-up after 6 months. A randomized controlled trial, M Nguyen, M Revel and M Dougados, The British Journal of Rheumatology, Vol 36, No. 1, 77-81 (1997).

6) Combined spa-exercise therapy is effective in patients with ankylosing spondylitis: a randomized controlled trial, A. van Tubergen et al, Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Oct;45(5):430-8.

7) The Kneipp philosophy (five pillars) (Kneipp USA)

8) The Water Course (Kneipp), Jonathan Paul De Vierville

9) Father Sebastian Kneipp (brief bio)

10) What is Naturopathy? (Sebastian Liew Centre)

11) Hydrotherapy (Holistic

12) Hydrotherapy and Aquatic Therapy, Dana L. Davis, M.P.T., M.T.T.

13) Michalsen A, Ludtke R, Buhring M, Spahn G, et al. Thermal hydrotherapy improves quality of life and hemodynamic function in patients with chronic heart failure. Am Heart J 2003;Oct, 146(4):E11.

14) Masuda A, Miyata M, Kihara T, et al. Repeated sauna therapy reduces urinary 8-epi-prostaglandin F (2alpha). Jpn Heart J 2004;45(2):297-303.

15) Kurabayashi H, Machida I, Kubota K. Improvement in ejection fraction by hydrotherapy as rehabilitation in patients with chronic pulmonary emphysema. Physiother Res Int 1998;3(4):284-291.

16) Haskes PJ. Beneficial effect of climatic therapy on inflammatory arthritis at Tiberias Hot Springs. Scand J Rheumatol 2002;31(3):172-177.

17) Gerber B, Wilken H, Barten G, et al. Positive effect of balneotherapy on post-PID symptoms. Int J Fertil Menopausal Stud 1993;Sep-Oct, 38(5):296-300.

18) Constant F, Guillemin F, Collin JF, et al. Use of spa therapy to improve the quality of life of chronic low back pain patients. Med Care 1998;36(9):1309-1314.

19) Cider A, Schaufelberger M, Sunnerhagen KS, et al. Hydrotherapy: a new approach to improve function in the older patient with chronic heart failure. Eur J Heart Fail 2003;Aug, 5(4):527-535.

20) Barsevick A, Llewellyn J. A comparison of the anxiety-reducing potential of two techniques of bathing. Nurs Res 1982;Jan-Feb, 31(1):22-27.

21) Hydrotherapy Glossary

22) Description of Various Mineral Baths

23) Thirteen Tips for Using Hydrotherapy at Home, Bill Gottlieb

24) Hydrotherapy, Paula Ford-Martin (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)

25) Hydrotherapy (

26) Hydrotherapy, Cathy Wong ( Alternative Medicine)

27) Spa Evolution, A Brief History of Spas, Julie Register (

28) My Water-Cure (1894), Fr. Sebastian Kneipp (book: translated into English)

29) The Cold Water Cure (1843), Vincent Priessnitz (book)

30) Hydrotherapy Theory & Technique, N Md Patrick Barron (book)

31) Osteo-arthritis and spa treatment

32) Medical Spas in Bulgaria

33) Hot springs treatment in Turkey

34) What is Balneotherapy?

35) Balneotherapy - Healing with Water (from: The Ultimate Guide to Taking the Waters, by Nathaniel Altman)

36) Balneological prospects in Iceland using geothermal resources, Hrefna Kristmannsdottir and Olafur Grimur Bjornsson, International Geothermal Conference, Reykjavik, Sept. 2003

37) Elevation of antioxidant enzymes in the clinical effects of radon and thermal therapy for bronchial asthma, F. Mitsunobu et al, J Radiat Res (Tokyo). 2003 Jun;44(2):95-9.

38) Effects of Hot Bath Immersion on Autonomic Activity and Hemodynamics, Yoshinobu Nagasawa et al, Japanese Circulation Journal, Vol. 65 (2001), No. 7, pp.587-592

39) Effects of bathing and hot footbath on sleep in winter, Sung EJ, Tochihara Y.,
J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci. 2000 Jan;19(1):21-7.

40) Balneotherapy at the Dead Sea area for knee osteoarthritis, S. Sukenik et al,
Isr Med Assoc J. 1999 Oct;1(2):83-5.

41) Present features of balneotherapy in Japan, Agishi Y and Yoshinori Ohtsuka,
Global Environ. Res. (1988) 2: 177-185.

42) Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing and walking) effectively decreases blood glucose levels in diabetic patients, Ohtsuka Y, Yabunaka N, Takayama S., Int J Biometeorol. 1998 Feb;41(3):125-7.

43) Treatment of refractory cases of atopic dermatitis with acidic hot-spring bathing, Kubota K et al, Acta Derm Venereol. 1997 Nov;77(6):452-4.

44) Effective physical therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Pilot study of exercise in hot spring water, Kurabayashi H et al, Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1997 May-Jun;76(3):204-7.

45) Balneotherapy and platelet glutathione metabolism in type II diabetic patients, Ohtsuka Y et al, Int J Biometeorol. 1996 Sep;39(3):156-9.

46) Endocrine and metabolic aspects of balneotherapy, Y. Agishi, Int J Biometeorol. 1985;29 Suppl 2:89-103.

Complete Series

I. Introduction

II. Hydrotherapy, Hot Springs, Spas

III. Ultrasonic Wave Energy / Cavitation

IV. Anions / Negative Ions / Ozone

V. Far-Infrared Radiation

VI. Aromatherapy, Healing Oils, & Bath Salts

For further information on purchasing the SG-2000 home spa, and business opportunities as a distributor, contact

Matthew Tan Kim Huat:

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[ e-mail: matthewtankimhuat [at] gmail [dot] com ]