Wellbeing results from a lifestyle which includes various elements, of which the following are fundamental: serenity of mind, correct nutrition, adequate physical activity. Water also enters into this picture. Indeed, its primary application (drink and hygiene) is not the only one, but it is also used for spa treatments, hydrotherapy and thalassotherapy. They are suitable remedies for both the body and the mind, given as a present from nature and which have always been used by mankind, in all latitudes and in any culture. One must not forget that spa treatments, hydrotherapy and thalassotherapy are, to all intents and purposes, not only the most ancient traditional western medicines, but are also practices which are still in use today and effective as a cure for the ills of contemporary man.
Spa treatments exploit the therapeutic power of mineral waters in places where they naturally gush out from the ground, at different temperatures. The waters can be drunk, or utilized for baths, inhalations, irrigation, or mud baths. In addition, one can also benefit from healing benefits of the natural grottoes.
Hydrotherapy, in particular, uses showers and baths, complete or partial, to heat up or cool down the body, as well as sponge baths and body wraps, hot or cold. It can be carried out with spa waters, but not necessarily: indeed, the principle of action is not based so much on the quality of the water, as much as on its temperature. Its objective is to awaken the natural mechanisms of self-healing of the body with the thermal contrast produced by hot and cold water. Sometimes, other substances are employed mixed with water, like clay, flax seeds or hay.
Thalassotherapy on the other hand, uses those beneficial elements for human health, which come from a marine climate and environment, i.e. sun or sea bathing, sand therapy, mud baths, seaweed wraps and natural aerosols produced by the movement of the waves and/or air masses full of iodine. These are totally natural remedies offered by spas or thalassotherapy centres.
“The cure is in water”, affirmed the abbot Sebastian Kneipp in the second half of the nineteenth century, laying the foundations of modern hydrotherapy: a method of curing based on the various applications of water. Partial and total showers, hot, cold or steam baths, sponging, barefoot walks (in special tubs or also in seawater or streams). These are the main applications of hydrotherapy, known way back from ancient times. Thermal stimulus is the main principle of hydrotherapy, as we have already mentioned: after a first reaction, however, which occurs at skin level, a second one occurs which reaches the internal body tissues, connected to the surface via the nerve pathways.
Acting on the local concentration of blood, one can bring part of the body to be treated to a state of balance.
Kneipp knew how to combine hydrotherapy with the use of medicinal plants, in the form of infusions (therefore utilized internally) as well as adding the same to baths or wraps (external), thereby creating a complete and effective treatment system. It was always a natural practice, acting as a stimulus for healing capacities already existing in every individual, in order to activate them and consequently re-establish the state of health.