Taking the Cure: How Hot Springs Heal

Hot springs have long been associated with health and healing. The steamy, mineral-infused water has been said to enhance vitality while treating a variety of ailments.

At this point, the hot spring/wellness connection is embedded in our consciousness. We believe that bathing in such waters is good for us, but do we have any idea why?

In an excellent — and overdue — article on mineral springs, The Baltimore Sun digs deep into the human fascination with hot, bubbly water. We really do love the soak. In 2003, there were 2.5 million visits to spas with hot springs, according to the International Spa Association.

Nathaniel Altman, author of Healing Springs, says that different types of springs offer different health benefits. Carbon dioxide-rich waters, for example, may help the body produce new blood vessels, which increases circulation and can increase the tone in the veins.

Is there any true health merit to the therapy that Europeans call balneology? American doctors are skeptical. Sure, sitting in warm water can reduce stress, but that's about as far as it goes. To date, there is no scientific evidence backing the use of hot springs.


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