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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 spas, wellness centers, and hot springs resorts. Some proponents claim that balneotherapy may help with a number of health conditions, including arthritis, respiratory disorders, and high blood pressure.

Did you know that most toxins are stored near the surface of your skin in your adipose tissue? Balneotherapy is the practice of immersing yourself in hot mineral-laden water or mud such as using fulvic acid, a naturally powerful detoxifier, and chelator. Skin is your largest organ, so by soaking in fulvic acid you are pulling the toxins from the largest area of your body. Pure fulvic acid from a high-quality, organic living source is KEY.

Talking about the Benefits of Bathing, we obviously go into the benefits of the external use of water for our health and well-being. Balneology is the science of bathing, known from ancient times. Romans for example were really obsessed with bathing practices. In addition to being considered vital for health and well-being, Roman baths ranked as important centers of social activity.

For many, cleansing the outside of the body is one of our most habitual, and enjoyable activities. A morning shower before breakfast, a shooting bath after work, or even the simple washing of hands before and after meals enable us to feel cleaner and more relaxed and refreshed.

In countries such as Japan, personal cleanliness is considered an important societal virtue, and in India, even the poorest citizens take a daily sponge bath or shower, sometimes in the street or at a public bath-house.​

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Benefits Of Bathing For Our Health

Bathing practices involve the act of washing in order to:

  • correct the condition of physical impurity,

  • and also to restore spiritual purity.

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Benefits Of Bathing And Physical Immortality:

I read some exciting and interesting things about little known facts related to the benefits of bathing, that I would like to share with you: “To be immortal in today’s world we must learn how to soak” says Leonard Orr the author of ” Breaking the Death Habit : The Science of Everlasting Life”

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Benefits Of Bathing For Spiritual Purification

” Just about everyone in the West has indoor plumbing and hot water, making physical immortality available to the modern masses. As a result, it is easy for most people to bathe twice per day, as is the practice of the immortal yogis.

I value hot water bathing as the supreme gift of spiritual civilization. I believe the human life span has doubled in the last hundred years because indoor plumbing and warm water have made water purification so pleasurable.

Warm water opens and cleans the charka’s. Coldwater cleans and automatically closes the charka’s. These gifts of science and technology are worthless to us if we don’t use them consciously.

Both showers and total immersion are necessary for the full understanding of water purification. Doing breathing exercises in the bath increases their efficiency. Oceans, rivers, lakes, and especially hot springs are infinitely valuable natural resources. Breathing in warm water produces different results than breathing in cold water.

The simple act of bathing daily in water can be a profound act of spiritual purification. To gain its full value, you should practice immersion in a bathtub, sea, or river while meditating before, during, and after.

The value of thinking deeply while going in and out of water is that it enables you to discover how bathing changes your emotional and psychological states. Thinking while lying in a warm bathtub is the greatest form of meditation I have ever tried.

Daily bathing restores the body’s energy.

Drinking good water is also important, but bathing is the easiest and most pleasurable way to clean the energy body – which is the source of physical health.

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Benefits Of Bathing In Mineral Waters

Bathing in thermal or spring water or bathing at home with added fulvic acid is a simple and effective way to help the body’s natural detoxification by stimulating the liver (which is our body’s filter and cleanse toxins), the circulatory system, and digestive system (by drinking the mineral water), which helps remove toxins.

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Benefits Of Bathing At Home

Nowadays, with the growth of industrial and related pollution throughout the world, many people experience poisoning from heave metals, such as cadmium and lead, which produce a variety of degenerative and nervous system diseases.

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Benefits Of Bathing For Relaxation

The benefits of bathing are obvious. There is an almost immediate sensation of comfort and relaxation as we settle into a bathtub filled with warm water, or a dramatic awakening of senses when we step into a cold shower.

Bathing helps us relax and sleep better – our body is actually regenerating while we sleep, so we have to insure good sleeping every night.

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Benefits Of Bathing For Cleansing And Restore The Immunity System

Our daily bath and shower rituals are, in fact methods of alternative medicine – The daily use of them cleans and balances our body energy.

– The break of the surface tension of the water produces the emanation of negative hydrogen ions, that are very beneficial for our body, which is electro-positively charged.

The negative ions make us feel relaxed, destroy harmful bacteria and increase our autoimmune system…

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Benefits Of Bathing In Hot Water

Hot water baths relax and soothe and are popular for relieving body aches and pains. They help the body eliminate toxins, increase its metabolism and raise its temperature in order to fight disease.
However, long hot baths can make us feel weak and exhausted and are generally not recommended.

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Benefits Of Bathing In Cold Water

Coldwater invigorates, energizes, and fortifies the body. It causes the blood vessels to constrict, thereby shutting blood to other parts of the body. At the same time, the brain tells the cardiovascular system to send fresh blood to cold areas, resulting in fresh vitality and warmth.

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What Studies Show About the Effect of Balneotherapy on Health Conditions

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Balneotherapy as a Strategy for Health

Balneotherapy and mud therapy have been used empirically since time immemorial to treat a wide range of conditions. Thermal baths are considered an integral part of traditional medicine in many cultures and countries (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Israel, Japan, and others), and nowadays they are a relevant part of the public health systems of many countries within and outside Europe.

Balneotherapy is an effective, well-tolerated, complementary approach in the treatment of several pathologies—mainly those related to chronic inflammation—such as cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and neurological conditions, and more importantly in the skin and rheumatic disorders.

In the recent decades, more and more studies (including high-quality meta-analysis and systematic reviews) have reported the beneficial effects of balneotherapy, including mud therapy, on different clinical outcomes in patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other rheumatic conditions.

Of all these pathologies, OA is the most commonly treated with balneological interventions. The main clinical parameters improved by balneotherapy and mud therapy in OA are analgesic drug consumption, function, stiffness, pain, and quality of life.

Since these therapies have little to no adverse effects, they are especially important for OA patients, who usually are elderly patients with multimorbidity- and polypharmacy-related risk of adverse events. In fact, the most recent guidelines from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) state that balneotherapy is appropriate in OA patients with comorbidities, for whom treatment options are limited.

Balneotherapy causes local and generalized physiological effects in the organism, which are exerted through both physical mechanisms—mainly linked to heat therapeutic effects—and chemical and biological properties of the agents. While the former is well known, the latter is difficult to identify and assess.

Indeed, as a result of the elevated application temperature—generally ranging from 38 to 42 °C—thermotherapeutic effects are the basis of these treatments.

Notwithstanding, absorption of biologically active inorganic and organic substances through the skin also plays a role in the effectiveness of balneotherapy. In vitro and in vivo studies have established that some water-soluble minerals are able to permeate human skin and seem to be the key mechanism responsible for the improvement in some clinical outcomes, in both balneotherapy and mud therapy, thus implying that those beneficial effects are not exclusively linked to the action of heat.

It is plausible to think that the mechanism of action probably results from a complex synergistic combination of several factors. Whichever of these mechanisms are implicated to a lesser or larger extent, the physiological responses arising from balneotherapy consist mainly of neuroendocrine and immunological effects that have been most widely studied in rheumatic pathologies.

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Balneotherapy and Immune System

The biological mechanisms by which immersion in mineral-medicinal water and the application of mud alleviate symptoms of several pathologies are still not completely understood. For the last two decades, immunological mechanisms of effectiveness have been studied in a number of investigations, pointing to anti-inflammatory effects that could underlie the clinical benefits of balneotherapy.

In several low-grade inflammation-related pathologies—especially in rheumatic diseases—balneotherapy and mud therapy have been reported to cause a reduction in serum concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β, and regulatory cytokine IL-6, as well as an increase in anti-inflammatory growth factor IGF-.

It is noteworthy that, in a recent study, our group carried out a comprehensive evaluation of the effect of mud therapy on the cytokine profile of OA patients. Our data showed a drastic decline in the unhealthily elevated systemic levels of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-8 (remarkably for the first time), IL-6, and TGF-β, thus confirming a global anti-inflammatory effect of this strategy.

Mud therapy can also decrease circulating levels of the adipokines adiponectin and resistin in OA. All these cytokines and adipokines are important mediators of inflammation and cartilage metabolism, and thus their modulation after balneotherapy leads to anti-inflammatory-mediated chondroprotective effects that may play a beneficial role in rheumatic conditions such as OA.

Similarly, matrix metalloproteinases are involved in cartilage degradation. MMP-3 serum levels decrease after mud therapy in OA patients—either as a direct effect of the intervention or as a consequence of the reduction in pro-inflammatory mediators such as cytokines that promote MMP secretion—suggesting that mud therapy contributes to extracellular matrix integrity. In fact, serum cartilage oligomeric matrix protein concentration—an indicator of cartilage turnover—decreases after balneotherapy.

Moreover, C-reactive protein levels—which rise in response to inflammation—decrease after balneotherapy in patients with rheumatic and cardiovascular pathologies. Prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4 are other important inflammatory mediators. There is evidence that balneotherapy and mud therapy reduces circulating levels of these biomarkers in patients with rheumatic pathologies.

It is well known that the inflammatory response plays a key role in the development and persistence of many pathological pain states. Since they are part of the inflammatory response, certain pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α are strongly involved in the process of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. They can directly modulate neuronal activity in the peripheral and central nervous system and promote the production of other mediators related to inflammation and pain—such as substance P and PGE2—contributing to hyperalgesia and allodynia.

In this way, reduction in these mediators’ levels after balneotherapy can also be associated with the analgesic effects of the treatment, as demonstrated by concomitant declines in perceived pain.

The cellular immune response also participates in the beneficial effects of balneotherapy, although not many studies have been conducted regarding this aspect of the immune response. Recently, our research group has found that OA patients presented a reduction in the circulating neutrophils’ functional capacity—i.e., phagocytic and microbicidal activities —that improved significantly after mud therapy.

Circulating monocytes’ phenotype and functional capacity seem to be also involved in the innate/inflammatory response induced by this treatment. In addition, changes in the percentage of circulating regulatory T cells are also implicated in the cytokine-mediated anti-inflammatory effect of balneotherapy.

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Balneotherapy and Stress

It is known that the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is activated in response to various stress factors—including hyperthermia—leading to β-endorphin (a peptide with morphine-like analgesic effects, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and cortisol release, the latter being especially important because of its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to inhibit the production of most cytokines. At the same time, activation of the sympathetic nervous system by stressors stimulates the release of catecholamines.

After balneotherapy, ACTH, cortisol, GH, and prolactin systemic levels increase in patients with different pathologies, including inflammatory ones. In FM patients, for example, mud therapy induces an increase in ACTH, cortisol, and β-endorphin systemic concentrations. Recently, our group reported a neuroendocrine-immune regulation in OA patients undergoing mud therapy: an increase in circulating cortisol concentrations that contributes to decreasing the elevated systemic levels of inflammatory cytokines in this pathology. These results seem to be in line with the above-mentioned studies in hydrotherapy, thus suggesting that the effects of balneotherapy on the neuroendocrine system are mainly due to heat stress caused by the elevated temperature of application.

In addition, heat stress induces a cellular response, the heat shock (HS) response, in which heat shock proteins (Hsp) are synthesized and released. Maintenance of the HS response by repeated mild heat stress causes hormetic effects in the organism. In this way, HS response and Hsp could play a role in the beneficial effects of balneotherapy.

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Balneotherapy as a Hormetic Strategy

Heat Stress Hormetic Effects in Balneotherapy

The therapeutic capacity of heat consists of changes in body tissue temperature for a certain time with the aim of producing physiological responses that contribute to supporting healing processes or alleviate pain and other symptoms, and it is linked to the ability of organisms to respond to stress and produce cellular responses of adaptation. Whereas severe heat stress leads to cellular damage and cell death, mild heat stress induces the HS response, which protects cells and organisms from severe damage, allows resumption of normal cellular and physiological activities, and leads to a higher level of thermotolerance. 

An important aspect of stress responses is that they have the potential to induce higher levels of stress tolerance and greater resistance to subsequent stress damage from more than one type of stress. In this way, mild heat stress can protect from oxidative stress or toxin damage. In the HS response, cells activate a signaling pathway leading to the expression of Hsp.

The Hsp70 (70 kDa heat shock protein) family consists of a class of Hsp that includes the stress-inducible Hsp70 (Hsp72, 72 kDa). Under normal physiological conditions, Hsp72 is expressed at low levels. However, following stress stimuli such as heat and inflammation, synthesis of intracellular Hsp72 (iHsp72) and release of extracellular Hsp72 (eHsp72) increase markedly. iHsp72 plays a crucial role in cytoprotection and cytotoxicity tolerance as an intracellular molecular chaperone involved in cell aging, survival, and protection against potentially harmful stress stimuli.

Of the few studies on Hsp and spa therapy that exist, most of them have assessed hydrotherapy rather than balneotherapy. The effects of hydrothermal therapy have been compared to those of exercise —a hormetin with bioregulatory effects frequently used as a therapy for different pathologies —since both strategies have the potential to improve impaired insulin sensitivity and boost the endothelial expression of the constitutive isoform of nitric oxide synthase, promoting vascular health.

In fact, hydrotherapy at 38–41 °C (18 sessions of 30 min) reduced body weight, fasting plasma glucose levels, and mean glycated hemoglobin levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. In rats, bathing for 15 min in hot plain water (40–42 °C) increased Hsp72 heart tissue concentration contributing to cardioprotection against ischemia injury, and increased Hsp72 artery expression, mediating the suppression of neointimal thickening in injured arteries.

Furthermore, Bathaie and co-workers found that diabetic rats undergoing hydrotherapy at 42 °C (60 sessions of 30 min each) presented improvements in lipid profile, antioxidant capacity, insulin secretion, and advanced glycation end (AGE) products, together with an increase in serum eHsp72 levels that may be directly related to the beneficial effects of the therapy. In young and aged insulin-resistant monkeys, hydrotherapy at 40 °C (10 sessions of 30 min) improved blood pressure, glucose values, pancreatic responses to glucose challenge, and tended to normalize glucose excursions, together with significantly higher concentrations of muscle Hsp70.

There were no adverse effects on organ or cardiovascular health. Krause and co-workers proposed that all these cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of hydrotherapy seem to be related to the induction of Hsp70 expression in response to heat stress, which enhances the phosphorylation of protein kinase B (Akt), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Together, they could improve insulin signaling, body composition, endothelial dysfunction, and the low-grade inflammation found in people with diabetes.

These investigations support the safety and efficacy of hydrotherapy as a preventive and therapeutic strategy in patients with metabolic syndrome that are too physically impaired to perform an exercise at optimal intensities.

Regarding treatments with mineral-medicinal waters and muds, no changes in Hsp60 serum levels were found either after balneotherapy or hydrotherapy at 38 °C (15 sessions of 30 min) in patients with degenerative musculoskeletal disease, probably because the temperature was not high enough to elicit a response. Balneotherapy and mud therapy interventions (seven sessions, temperature, and duration unknown) have been shown to increase Hsp70 gene expression in healthy subjects.

Surprisingly, our research group recently found a reduction in systemic eHsp72 concentrations in elderly OA patients after 10 sessions of balneotherapy with mud application at 38–42 °C for 60 min, in parallel with a marked decrease in the serum concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines. OA patients presented increased serum eHsp72 and pro-inflammatory cytokines concentrations at baseline compared to age-matched healthy controls, and they reached similar values to those of controls after the therapy [49].

Similarly, Uzunoğlu and co-workers assessed the effect of balneotherapy (39–40 °C for 15 min during three weeks) on Hsp in OA patients. Serum eHsp72 concentrations initially increased after the first session, but at the end of the protocol eHsp72 systemic concentration was lower than baseline, implying that an adaptation might occur at the end of the intervention.

This paradoxical effect is associated with the role of eHsp72 as an extracellular chaperokine. Conversely to iHsp72 (anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective), eHsp72 can act as a pro-inflammatory mediator, producing an immune/inflammatory response involving the activation of immune effector cells and cytokine release, particularly inflammatory cells and pro-inflammatory cytokines with the participation of nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κβ).

Moreover, due to its capacity to affect the production of cytokines that in turn induce neuroendocrine responses, eHsp72 is an intrinsic component of the immune-neuro-endocrine network. In this way, modulation of eHsp72 circulating concentrations after heat stress could trigger an Hsp-cytokine-HPA-cortisol anti-inflammatory feedback mechanism, leading to anti-inflammatory effects and neuroendocrine-immune regulation.

Therefore, it could be speculated that the paradoxical decrease of eHsp72 in our study reflects a lower release of eHsp72 after a potential heat-induced iHsp72 increase in OA tissues such as chondrocytes . Thus, the ratio iHsp72/eHsp72 is crucial to evaluate the effectiveness of thermotherapy.

Together, these findings suggest a role for Hsp in the thermotherapeutic benefits induced by balneotherapy, which supports the relationship between hormetic pathways and hydrothermal treatments. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to determine the optimal intensity, duration, and interval of heat stimulation for clinical application, particularly in inflammation- and stress-related illnesses.

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