What are the therapeutic benefits of Hot Springs?
Due to the folklore and health benefits of hot springs, it is no wonder they are a popular tourist destination, and increasingly more so these days, as well as being used regularly as a form of therapy or rehabilitation.
Hot springs have a high mineral content because heated water can hold more dissolved solids. This means a given hot spring can contain everything from calcium, magnesium, silica, lithium, and even radium. Like a multivitamin for the skin!
The heat in hot springs envelopes and helps soothe aching muscles, and the minerals in the water get soaked up by the skin and stimulate certain bodily processes. So how exactly do the combination of these minerals and this hot water help us?
Musculoskeletal problems: Documented in Chinese and Japanese history, hot springs have been used to aid with swollen joints, arthritis, muscle fatigue, ligament damage, and more.
Eczema: Chronically dry, flaky skin, otherwise known as eczema, is a skin condition that affects up to 15% of Americans and Canadians. Regularly soaking in hot springs has been found to reduce eczema, itching, redness, and cover.
Nasal Congestion: The heat of the water combined with sulfur makes for a winning combination to combat nasal congestion, whether due to the common cold, allergies, or even chest congestion.
Circulation: Specifically, sodium bicarbonate and calcium found in mineral hot springs help with good circulation in the body. This can have numerous positive impacts, including lower blood pressure. The weightlessness that comes with floating in the water also helps for good circulation.
Relaxation: Never to be underestimated, is the power of de-stressing and relaxation. A stressed state can lead to health complications, such as high blood pressure, depression, and an increase in the output of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is released in stress-induced doses and can mess with our hormonal balance, which unfortunately affects just about everything, including our mood, immune system, and metabolism. The key to a faster metabolism and shedding those pounds is having balanced hormones, not stressed, unbalanced hormones. So whatever your method of choice, whether you relax with hot springs, a good book, or both, make sure you invest in yourself through stress reduction and relaxation.
Conversely, let's look at it from the perspective of the different minerals present in hot springs and how they help our health:
Magnesium: aids with a clear complexion and healthy-looking skin.
Potassium: eliminates toxins and promotes healthy skin.
Sodium: decreases inflammation in swollen joints and can help the lymphatic system.
Sulfur: helps with respiratory problems and skin inflammations.
And depending on the hot spring, you are visiting. There are likely many more minerals present in the water. As a word of caution, hot springs can sometimes be too hot for those with very high blood pressure, certain heart conditions, and less robust immune systems, such as pregnant women, seniors, and kids. These people should take special precautions if they delight in one of nature's most sacred playgrounds.
Something we have been enjoying for thousands of years, hot springs have made it to the top of our activity, relaxation, and health list for a reason! I don't know about you, but I think it's time to go for a soak...