Imagine soaking in your bathtub, the serenity, the peace, that sensation of all your tension and stress are just melting away. Now, take that feeling and amplify it by a thousand. That does not even begin to cover that pure bliss of a soak in one of the world's many mineral hot springs.
The hot springs are naturally formed by geothermal activity farther away from the Earth surface. Each mineral springs is a result of the hydrological cycle with its own characteristics including mineral content, mineral combinations, temperature, and pressure. All those features define springs types and classifications.
There are numerous classifications based on different parameters including the mineral content of water, temperature, and pH.
By mineral content, springs are classified as sulfurous, carbonated (soda), saline, and radon.
According to the Japanese classification by temperature, spring water can be cold - under 25°C or 77°F, tepid - between 25-34°C or 77-93°F, warm - between 34-42°C or 93-108°F, or hot - over 42°C or 108°F.
The classification by potential of hydrogen pH defines if the water is acidic (pH=6.9 or less), neutral (pH=7 -7.9), or alkaline (pH=8 and higher).
Hot Springs Benefits
In traditional Chinese culture and philosophy, it was thought that the hot springs receive the five Chinese phases:
- A life-force energy known as "qi" from the Earth - all springs arise from the Earth
- Water - the hot springs is water
- Fire - warmth and heat of the springs water
- Metal - all minerals that are found in the thermal water
- Wood - beautiful surroundings.
It is believed that hot mineral springs provide harmony to our body and mind while balancing and grounding us.
| Blood Circulation
Bathing in hot water raises the body's hydrostatic pressure that leads to the improvement of blood circulation and oxygen flow throughout all organs and tissues. The increase of circulation of the oxygen-rich blood provides better nourishment of all cells and helps to dissolve and remove the toxic substances from the body.
Higher temperatures gradually increase the body temperature that helps to fight infections by killing viruses and bacteria. The study conducted in Japan demonstrated that hot bathing improves human immune function by increasing lymphocytes count in the peripheral blood. Trace amounts of minerals such as iron and sulfur boost the immune system.
Soaking in thermal springs accelerates metabolism by improving digestion, normalizing functions of endocrine glands, stimulating the secretion of the intestinal tract and liver.
| Stress Relief & Relaxation
Psychologically as well as physically, relaxation of muscles while soaking in hot springs is calming. The increase and the corresponding decrease in body temperature lull you into a deep sleep. High amounts of negative ions in the hot mineral water increase serotonin synthesis. In turn, serotonin helps relieve stress, reduce depression and anxiety.
| Joint & Muscle Issues
In Europe and Japan, balneotherapy is effectively used to treat joint diseases including rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, and rheumatism. Mineral water can relieve muscle stiffness and joint pain. An Israeli study found that mineral hot water relieves fibromyalgia pain.
| Skin Conditions
High sulfur and silica content help to relieve certain skin conditions, treat skin rashes and infection, smooth and tighten the skin. Direct mineral applications improve skin diseases including psoriasis, dermatitis, and fungal infections.
Acidic water has an antibacterial effect. In Japan, it is used to treat chronic skin conditions such as neurodermatitis and athlete's foot, heal scars and peel off dead skin.
Accelerated blood circulation speeds toxin elimination. Furthermore, negative ions in the hot springs attract harmful free radicals and positive ions from heavy metals and UV light. Sweating helps flush out toxic particles.
| Other therapeutic effects
While soaking, the skin absorbs trace amount of minerals found in the springs. Ions of sulfur, calcium, carbon dioxide, magnesium, and lithium provide healing effects to the immune system, nervous system and various body organs.
Popular in Europe, the drinking mineral water helps treat gastrointestinal problems, liver, kidney, and urinary tract disorders.
Note. By standards of many European countries, mineral water qualifies as medical water if it is high in chemical compositions and proven to have curative effects. Like any other medicine, consumption of medical water should be supervised by trained health staff and followed a specific protocol.
Important. Do not drink water from the hot springs if it has not been tested, it can contain harmful chemicals, pollutants, and bacteria.
That brings this discussion to its final conclusion. It must be evident by now that there are numerous benefits of hot springs mineral water. However, always use common sense when soaking in the geothermal water.
While there are numerous health benefits, there are some things to be cautious about as well. Read more about Hot Springs Risks and Safety Tips.
• Hot springs are naturally formed by geothermal activity far away from the Earth surface
• There are numerous classifications of the hot springs based on different parameters
• According to Chinese culture, thermal springs provide harmony to the body and mind.