Do Healing Waters really heal? May 6, 2016

EuropeSpa Blog: Do Healing Waters really heal?

For millennia, healing waters have attracted people’s attention, simply because they were different. They smelled different, for instance sulphurous; they tasted highly metallic or contained a lot of carbonic acid (which made them last longer and “taste better”). Especially thermal waters have always been spectacular, as the sight of freely escaping hot water from the earth was and still is fascinating. These locations often were places of worship and already known for many thousands of years.

In the Swiss town of St. Moritz, for instance, the frame of the carbonated Mauritius spring could be dated back to the Bronze Age. Similar examples exist in Bad Pyrmont in Germany or in Vichy in France. People often believed in the mystical (healing) powers of the water. That’s why even today – in our “cultural memory” so to speak – healing water still remains something special. This is perhaps also related to the custom of throwing coins into public fountains – just like votive offerings in ancient times.

But let’s get back to healing waters: Do they really heal?

The German physician Michael Berliner stresses in his book “Kompendium Physikalische Medizin”, published in 1992, three characteristics of healing waters that can be used for therapies: Its warmth, mechanical properties and chemical composition.

  1. The Warmth looses muscular tension, stimulates the circulation, eases pains (analgesic) and often acts anti-inflammatory in case of chronic, not active inflammations. Joint diseases such as rheumatism or arthrosis are treated with (amongst others) thermal water. The warmth is also used for modern relaxation techniques, for instance, “Watsu”.
  1. Mechanical properties of the water such as hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy and water resistance allow training opportunities that would be impossible for certain people outside the water due to the lack of buoyancy. Modern treatments are, for example, water cycling.
  1. The chemical composition of healing waters bears long-term health benefits. Its carbonic acid, for instance, according to Michael Berliner, can be used in case of milder forms of hypertension and circulatory problems. Impaired wound healing and ulcers are also treated with carbonic acid. Healing waters with a high salt content or salt waters are used for treatments, for example, in the form of baths, in case of inflammatory (not acute) and non-inflammatory rheumatic diseases, gynaecological diseases, psoriasis vulgaris and post-traumatic rehabilitation. Sulphurous waters can increase the circulation of the skin and the microcirculation. Depending on the water temperature they can also lower blood pressure and have an antimicrobial action. Significant fields of application are degenerative joint and spinal disorders. Other important healing waters in therapy are waters with a naturally high radon content and waters containing iodine.

So, you can see that healing waters offer innumerable possibilities. They are not only used for baths but also as drinking cures or inhalations. But usually, they are used in a holistic therapy, in combination with other forms of treatment.


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Written by

Dr. Kurt von Storch

Dr. Kurt von Storch is founder and CEO of EuropeSpa med & wellness GmbH, the international quality system for medical spa and wellness of the European Spas Association (ESPA). Since 2013 he is president of the Academy of Balneology and Climatology and Member of the Board of the German Spa Read More