September 21, 2015
  •  By: Maggie Fyier

Relax Your Way to Better Health

What if I told you there is an easy and relaxing way to improve your health? No special diet, expensive procedure, or trip to the gym needed.  You probably don’t believe me, but it’s true.

The easiest and most relaxing way to improve your health is a mineral bath.

Still, don’t believe me?

Ask the ancients…

Mineral baths have been used since ancient times to improve health. Back in 863 BCE Prince Bladud, future legendary king of the Britons, was supposedly cured of leprosy after bathing in the mineral rich waters and mud of springs near modern day Bath, England. Almost 1000 years later the Romans took over and further developed the early “spa town” that still attracts visitors today.

About 2000 years later, give or take a decade, I was one of those visitors. The town where Jane Austen spent most of her life is a fascinating mix of well preserved Roman architecture and baths alongside the homes and churches that grew up around the baths, especially in the 19th century when the belief in curative powers of healing waters was at its height.

The other ancient spa I had the good fortune to visit is in the beautiful Tuscan town of Saturnia. Inhabited prior to and through Hellenic, Etruscan, and Roman times, this small town in the province of Grosseto, Italy has a very colorful history.

Saturnia takes its name from the Roman god Saturn. According to one legend, Saturn had it with crazy humans and their wars. He tried to pacify them by sending a thunderbolt to make a magic spring filled with healing waters. Who wants to make war when there are thermal baths to hang out in, right?

Later in history people found the sulfurous smell given off by the springs to be evidence that Satan himself lived there. By the 1300s it had acquired a reputation as a hideout for thieves and outlaws and the powerful Sienese razed it to the ground to keep the riffraff out of their backyard. It was not rediscovered until the 19th century when the land was drained and the luxury spa Terme di Saturnia built.

Today the sulfur smell remains, but thousands of visitors still come every year to enjoy the springs and the world class spa. Two of the best known areas are Mill Falls (Cascate del Mulino) and the waterfalls at Gorello.

The source of the springs has a very strong flow, measured between 500 and 800 liters per second. This keeps the warm water moving quickly and adds to the therapeutic benefits. Immerse yourself in the shallow pools formed by calcified minerals and let the force of the water massage tension from sore muscles and the minerals in the water aid in detoxification of your whole system. When you step out of the waters your skin feels smoother than ever and your whole body feels invigorated and relaxed at the same time.

“That’s great,” you say, “but no trips to Europe planned this year.”

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

You can enjoy all the benefits of a mineral bath right in your own home. Just turn on the taps in your bathtub as hot as is comfortable, pour in a heaping cup or two of Epsom salt, and soak for at least fifteen minutes.

Epsom salt is named for saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.  AKA Magnesium Sulfate, Epsom salt contains not salt, but the minerals Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfate (SO4). These are also often found in natural mineral springs. Due to lifestyle and dietary changes over the last century, many of us have lower levels of magnesium and sulfates in our system than is ideal. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our system and deficiency can contribute to heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis, joint pain, chronic fatigue, muscle and nerve issues, and a host of other common ailments. Sulfates also play an important role in health. By stimulating the pancreas to form digestive enzymes, sulfates are thought to aid in the body’s natural detoxification process. These minerals are not easily absorbed through the digestive tract, but they can easily enter through the skin, so soaking in Epsom salt is an easy and effective way to maintain the minerals in your system. Pick one scented with lavender or eucalyptus for some extra relaxation through aromatherapy.

The list of conditions that may benefit from immersion therapy in mineral baths is long; rheumatism, gout, acne, neuralgia, arthritis, eczema, hypertension, adrenal issues just to name a few.

So, whether you buy a $1000 plane ticket to visit an ancient Roman spa in Europe or a $5 bag of Epsom Salt at the local drug store, start relaxing your way to better health with a good soak in a mineral bath. Your body will thank you.

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