Balneotherapy

Introduction:

Balneotherapy involves treating health problems by bathing, usually in hot springs and other naturally mineral-rich waters. Long practiced in alternative medicine systems all over the world, balneotherapy is often offered at spa, wellness centers, and hot springs resorts. Balneotherapy is thought to promote healing by increasing circulation, encouraging detox and easing stress. In addition, the minerals found in hot springs (such as sulfur and magnesium) are said to fight off illness by nourishing the organs and stimulating the immune system.

Alternate Names

  • Bath Therapy
  • Hot Springs Immersion
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Spa Therapy
Uses
Principal Proposed Uses

Other Proposed Uses

Arthritis

Mineral baths may be somewhat helpful for people with osteoarthritis. It can help treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Fibromyalgia

Balneotherapy may help treat fibromyalgia, according to a small study published in Rheumatology International in 2002. Study results showed that those treated with balneotherapy showed significant improvements in some fibromyalgia symptoms and in depression (a common problem among people with fibromyalgia).

Low Back Pain

In a 2005 study from Research in Complementary and Natural Classical Medicine, scientists found that bathing in sulfurous mineral water may help alleviate low back pain.

Conclusion:

Overall evidence is insufficient to show that balneotherapy is more effective than no treatment, that one type of bath is more effective than another or that one type of bath is more effective than mudpacks, exercise or relaxation therapy.

If indeed it does work, balneotherapy could act through the effects of heat, both locally (on muscles, joints and skin), and systemically, through absorption of substances, such as sulfur through the skin.

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