What is Balneotherapy – The Treatment and its Effectiveness

The word spa generally reminds us of recreation. But, could it be a medium of therapy as well? Yes. The term is Balneotherapy. The word balneum in Latin means bath. As the term suggests, the therapy involves treatment of ailments by bathing.

The technique is close to hydrotherapy and there are some principles from both these disciplines which merge at times. It is practised in spas and off late is catching up in popularity in the United States. This article tries to review this unique method of treating ailments.

What is Balneotherapy?

The therapy primarily aims at using a spa for medicinal purpose instead of its more popular recreational benefits. It involves:

  • Using hot and cold water to carry out massage in moving water
  • Swimming in water containing minerals like radium, silica, sulfur and selenium which are absorbed by the skin
  • Wide usage of folk medicine medicinal clays prior to taking bath
  • The peat found in the spa water contains other minerals like sodium, magnesium, iron, calcium, arsenic, manganese, lithium, bromine, potassium and iodine.
  • Water in the hot springs contain essential oils and added minerals too.
  • Taking mud bath is also a part of this technique which involves mixing of dirt (with beneficial properties) and water.

How Effective is Balneotherapy?
Research studies carried out on this therapy found it either to be positive or neutral. These studies indeed had flaws in the manner in which they were carried out. However, the therapy is recommended for treatment of arthritis, skin conditions and fibromyalgia.

It is always advisable to seek medical consultation prior to taking up this therapy. The minerals used in the spa water can prove to be allergic for people with weak immune system. Heart patients and pregnant women should be particularly cautious as possibilities of adverse reactions cannot be ruled out in their case.

Conclusion: In the year 2009 a review of all the available scientific evidences was carried out. It concluded that there are some rheumatological diseases that can be treated well by this therapy. However, the present research on the study is too less to arrive at firm conclusions on balneotherapy.

Along with the popularity and awareness of the therapy, the need to carry out further research on the topic can be felt by the scientific community in the near future.

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