Ancient civilizations used hot springs as a therapeutic measure or as an instance to socialize.
The oldest finds of constructions dedicated for this purpose date from before 2000 BC in India.
In Ancient Rome and Greece the thermal bath was considered a ritual. The first records of the use of hot water in the “baths” date back to the end of the 5th century BC.
Only in 1986 the hot springs were declared as an alternative tool to enjoy good physical and mental health.
Thus arose a new discipline, medical hydrology – part of the natural sciences that deals with water – accepted as complementary medicine by the World Health Organization.
Types of hot springs
There are two types of hot springs depending on their geological origin, magmatic and telluric. The type of terrain from which they appear is one of the main differences between the two: magmatic waters are born from metallic or eruptive seams, while telluric waters can appear anywhere.
The temperature of magmatic waters is higher than that of telluric.
The former generally has temperatures above 50º C, while those of telluric origin rarely do so.
On the other hand, thanks to the fact that telluric waters are filtered, they have less mineralization than magmatic ones. The elements most commonly found in magmatic waters are arsenic, boron, bromine, copper, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Telluric hot springs usually have bicarbonates, chlorides, lime salts and others.
An important characteristic of hot springs is that they are ionized.
There are two types of ions, positive and negative. Contrary to its name, positives do not bring benefits to the human body, and on the contrary, they are irritating. Instead, negative ions have the ability to relax the body. The hot springs are loaded with negative ions.
Benefits of hot springs
The hot mineralized water from the “hot springs” has different effects on the human body. Some authors divide the benefits of thermal waters into three, biological, physical and chemical, although in reality they all act at the same time.
Bathing in hot springs increases the body’s temperature, killing germs, including viruses, it also increases the hydrostatic pressure of the body, thus increasing blood circulation and oxygenation. This rise in temperature helps dissolve and remove toxins from the body.
When a person is exposed to a thermal bath, they receive the direct action of the temperature of the thermal waters in the form of shock, and the minerals begin to be absorbed in small concentrations by the skin.
Once in the body, the minerals are deposited in the subcutaneous cellular tissue, and from there they exert their action activating the organic metabolism through the hypothalamic-adrenal axis.
Among the healing properties of hot springs, the following stand out:
- They improve the nutrition of the body’s tissues in general, which is why it increases metabolism.
- They stimulate the body’s defenses.
- They purify the blood, eliminating toxins and waste products through sweating and diuresis that they cause.
- They stimulate the secretions of the digestive tract and the liver, thus helping digestion.
They reactivate the delayed metabolism in many rheumatics.
- They have extremely useful destabilizing power, considering the allergic participation in the order of rheumatic diseases.
- They re-educate the thermoregulatory system, of enormous importance in rheumatic patients that have lost their ability to react and adapt to changes in the environment.
- The analgesic and pain relieving power of these waters is well known.
- They relax the muscles and by their revulsive and resolutive action, they act on edema, swelling and chronic fibrous processes.
- They sedate the nervous system, being a sedative and relaxing, ideal for stress and the current rhythm of life.
- They reconstitute and tone.
- The thermal waters exert a myorelaxing action on neuro-muscular-osteo-articular contractures and stiffness, which are important in muscle-skeletal rehabilitation and re-education treatments. Its effect on all types of rheumatism (inflammatory, degenerative, non-articular, metabolic) in some cases becomes remarkable.
- Chronic skin diseases
- Mild respiratory diseases
For all these cases, it is necessary to specify that the therapy of the thermal baths has greater effectiveness, it should be carried out especially in periods of 3 to 4 weeks, being important the previous consultation to a specialist in case of pregnancy, advanced age or illness.