The History of Spas & Holistic Therapies

Many people around the world believed that bathing in a particular spring, well, or river resulted in physical and spiritual purification. Forms of ritual purification existed among the native Americans, Persians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Today, ritual purification through water can be found in the religious ceremonies of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus. These ceremonies reflect the ancient belief in the healing and purifying properties of water. Complex bathing rituals were also practiced in ancient Egypt, in pre-historic cities of the Indus Valley, and in Aegean civilizations. Most often these ancient people did little building construction around the water, and what they did construct was very temporary in nature.

Bathing in Greek and Roman times

Some of the earliest descriptions of western bathing practices came from Greece
. The Greeks began bathing regimens that formed the foundation for modern spa procedures. These Aegean people utilized small bathtubs, wash basins, and foot baths for personal cleanliness. They established public baths and showers within their gymnasium complexes for relaxation and personal hygiene. Greek mythology specified that certain natural springs or tidal pools were blessed by the gods to cure disease. Around these sacred pools, Greeks established bathing facilities for those desiring healing. Supplicants left offerings to the gods for healing at these sites and bathed themselves in hopes of a cure. The Spartans developed a primitive vapor bath. At Serangeum, an early Greek balneum (bathhouse, loosely translated), bathing chambers were cut into the hillside from which the hot springs issued. A series of niches cut into the rock above the chambers held

Bathing in the 18th century

In the 17th century most upper-class Europeans washed their clothes with water often and washed only their faces (with linen), feeling that bathing the entire body was a lower-class activity; but the upper-class slowly began changing their attitudes toward bathing as a way to restore health later in that century. The wealthy flocked to health resorts to drink and bathe in the waters. In 1702 Queen Anne of England traveled to Bath, the former Roman development, to bathe. A short time later, Richard (Beau) Nash came to Bath. By the force of his personality, Nash became the arbiter of good taste and manners in England. He along with financier Ralph Allen and architect John Wood transformed Bath from a country spa into the social capital of England. Bath set the tone for other spas in Europe to follow. Ostensibly, the wealthy and famous arrived there on a seasonal basis to bathe in and drink the water; however, they also came to display their opulence. Social activities at Bath included dances, concerts, playing cards, lectures, and promenading down the street.

A typical day at Bath might be an early morning communal bath followed by a private breakfast party. Afterwards, one either drank water at the Pump Room (a building constructed over the thermal water source) or attended a fashion show. Physicians encouraged health resort patrons to bathe in and drink the waters with equal vigor. The next several hours of the day could be spent in shopping, visiting the lending library, attending concerts, or stopping at one of the coffeehouses. At 4:00 P.M., the rich and famous dressed up in their finery and promenaded down the streets. Next came dinner, more promenading, and an evening of dancing or gambling.

While the ozone spa is not a replacement for medically managed rehabilitation of muscle, spinal, and other structural damage to the body, this device may offer hope to those suffering from chronic pain and degenerative “structural” conditions, through long term and daily use our ozone spa.

Balneotherapy may be recommended for wide range of illnesses, including arthritis , skin conditions and fibromyalgia . As with any medical treatment, balneotherapy should be discussed with a physician before beginning treatment, since a number of conditions, like heart disease and pregnancy, can result in a serious adverse reaction.

Scientific studies into the effectiveness of balneotherapy tend to be neutral or positive, finding that balneotherapy provides no effect or a placebo effect, or that there is a positive effect. However, many of these studies suffer from methodological flaws, and so may not be entirely reliable.

Balneology is the scientific study of naturally occurring mineral waters. In the United States, this science is not very well known, and is even less seldom practiced. However, throughout Europe and Japan, balneology and hot springs therapy is very much a part of routine medical care. Medical prescriptions are given by licensed doctors for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, and utilizing mineral waters as a part of preventative medicine is widely recognized and encouraged. Balneotherapy is the practical study and application of the health benefits of water.

Hot springs therapy became popular in the United States in the nineteenth century and reached a pinnacle in the United States in the 1940’s. During this brief hot springs era, doctors and resort owners, as well as an ever-enthusiastic general public, attributed many cures and health benefits to the use of therapeutic geothermally heated mineral waters. However, the hot springs movement did not last long enough to mature into a socio-cultural tradition which would have eventually resulted in formal research and medical acceptance. Furthermore, the FDA eventually stepped in and prohibited organizations from making unsubstantiated health claims concerning the medicinal value of natural mineral waters

The Baden-Baden bathing procedure began with a warm shower. The bathers next entered a room of circulating, 140-degree hot air for 20 minutes, spent another ten minutes in a room with 150-degree temperature, partook of a 154-degree vapor bath, then showered and received a soap massage. After the massage, the bathers swam in a pool heated approximately to body temperature. After the swim, the bathers rested for 15 to 20 minutes in the warm “Sprudel” room pool. This shallow pool’s bottom contained an 8-inch (200 mm) layer of sand through with naturally carbonated water bubbled up. This was followed by a series of gradually cooler showers and pools. After that, the attendants rubbed down the bathers with warm towels and then wrapped them in sheets and covered them with blankets to rest for 20 minutes. This ended the bathing portion of the treatment. The rest of the cure consisted of a prescribed diet, exercise, and water-drinking program.

After the American Revolution, the spa industry continued to gain popularity.By the mid 1850s hot and cold spring resorts existed in 20 states. Many of these resorts contained similar architectural features. Most health resorts had a large, two-story central building near or at the springs, with smaller structures surrounding it. The main building provided the guests with facilities for dining, and possibly, dancing on the first floor, and the second story consisted of sleeping rooms. The outlying structures were individual guest cabins, and other auxiliary buildings formed a semicircle or U-shape around the large building.

These resorts offered swimming, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding as well as facilities for bathing. The Virginia resorts, particularly White Sulphur Springs, proved popular before and after the Civil War. After the Civil War, spa vacations became very popular as returning soldiers bathed to heal wounds and the American economy allowed more leisure time. Saratoga Springs in New York became one of the main centers for this type of activity. Bathing in and drinking the warm, carbonated spring water only served as a prelude to the more interesting social activities of gambling, promenading, horse racing, and dancing!!

Belgium in 1583: “Spa’s source is located in the valley of the Ardennes in Belgium. It was first discovered by ancient Romans and in 1583 was the first bottled water to be exported to no one less than King Henry II of France. Along with Spa’s first steps in developing an international bottled water industry it also inadvertently exported the town’s name, Spa, which became synonymous with most natural springs and health resorts.”

Bottled water consumption has been steadily growing IN THE WORLD for the past 30 years. It is the most dynamic sector of all the food and beverage industry: consumption in the world increases by an average 12% each year, in spite of its excessively high price compared to tap water.

· SPA (noun)

  The noun SPA has 3 senses:

1. a health resort near a spring or at the seaside (describes us!)

2. a fashionable hotel usually in a resort area

3. a place of business with equipment and facilities for exercising and improving physical fitness (describes us!)

The first destination spa?

Although some might look to ancient Greek baths in Homeric times, according to Seducing the Senses, the ancient town of Baiae, located northwest of the Bay of Naples, was the world’s first destination spa. It was a place of mythological beauty and one so renowned that Romans would journey long distances to seek rebirth and rejuvenation. It was no mean accomplishment to achieve this status because the Romans literally built entire spa towns wherever they found thermal waters. Examples include Bath in England, Baden-Baden in Germany, Evian in France and Budapest in Hungary.

Seducing the Senses describes Baiae as a place that appealed to all the senses as follows:

Baiae was blessed with a stunning hillside setting, soothing thermal springs and a pleasing southern climate. Visitors could stroll through Baiae’s famous silva, a park shaded with cypress and myrtle trees, and inhale the ocean breezes perfumed with jasmine and orange blossom. Grapevines, oleander, and laurel spilled down the terraced hillside where steppes of honeycombed rock formed natural grottos containing thermal pools. Baiae was a gentle paradise, a real life Elysian Fields.

Where the word “spa” came from

The Romans created these spa towns and elaborate baths because they believed in the healing power of water. But the term “spa” originated as an acronym from Emperor Nero’s affirmation of the Roman faith in the healing power of water. Emperor Nero said, “sanitas per aquas,” which means “health through waters” and gives us the acronym “spa.”