Medical spas: An overview

For over two thousand years people have been taking restful breaks to rejuvenate, invigorate and heal.  In Europe the ‘Medical Spa’, a health, relaxation and rehabilitation centre has been around for well over a hundred years and ‘Health Resorts’ cropped up where salty water was found bubbling beneath the ground.  Salty and thermal waters were deemed to have healing properties and thousands would flock to drink the water, indulge in huge tubs of mud or salt baths and undertake supervised medical treatments such as diathermy (an electro magnetic heat used for healing) or heliotherapy (a chiropractic treatment for muscle stimulation).

Furthermore, the spa town of Bath in the UK has been famous for therapeutic baths since Roman times, Icelanders have been bathing in geothermal pools as a recreational activity and to ease rheumatic pain for thousands of years and “taking the waters” was all the rage in 18th century England.

But there’s no denying that Europe is firmly on the map as a leader in medicinal waters.  With thousands of thermal springs and many varied compositions, the European spa offers extensive medical and rehabilitation treatments as well as being a relaxing and restorative place to recover and escape from the stress of modern day life.  Offering a rich variety of medical treatments and drawing on the local and natural therapeutic resources of mud, peat and brine European spas are equipped with ultra modern equipment and have qualified medical teams of doctors, cosmetologists, physiotherapists and auxiliary staff.


‘Balneology’ (treatments based on thermal hot springs, mineral water or mud) is considered a field of medicine in its own right and medicinal spas in Europe use Balneology principles to help cure health problems such as arthritis, psoriasis, rheumatism, infertility, digestive, metabolic and skin disorders using mud or peat, seawater gases and oxygen ozone mixtures.  Some of Europe’s mineral springs have large quantities of carbon dioxide which is used in the preparation of the carbon bath where kidney, urinary and the respiratory tract problems are treated, as well as obesity and nervous disorders.

Mineral spring waters are especially good for curing intestinal and digestive problems, diabetes, gout and allergies.  The baths also help regain vigour and boost the immune system and it is believed in many cases that bathing cures have an enormous advantage over drugs and surgery.

What you can expect from a Medical Spa

European spas have been developed to help visitors improve their health and as a rehabilitation centre.  Treatments are delivered and managed by medical staff and doctors as part of a medical spa regimen and a Spa Physician will recommend a routine of tailor made treatments, which is likely to include massage, exercise (particularly walking which is especially pleasant in Europe’s beautiful historic spa towns), drinking the water and following a lean, healthy diet.  The spa stay will potentially be a catalyst for a healthier lifestyle.

Most spas include sauna, solarium, indoor and outdoor pools, sun terrace, whirlpool, Jacuzzi, thermal bath, steam room and aroma cabin.  Medicinal Treatments include drinking or bathing in therapeutic water or mud.  Therapeutic Treatments include balneotherapy, hydrotherapy, inhalation and complementary treatments such as reflexology while the Wellbeing Treatments include massage and hair and beauty.

Health, wellbeing and luxury spas

Due to the busy and frenetic lifestyle of the twenty first century, spa vacationing has become extremely popular as people seek peace and quiet and aim to restore a sense of equilibrium in their lives.  Consequently, in addition to the medical spas in Europe, indulgent spas for health, wellbeing, pampering and relaxation have emerged all over the world offering rejuvenating treatments and therapies designed to take the pressure off.  Therapies on offer range from Thalassotherapy, Detoxifying Body Wraps, Herbal Body Scrubs, yoga and reflexology to anti-ageing or anti-stress Facials.

The spa goer today can choose from dental spas (particularly beneficial for relaxing the patient before undergoing dental surgery), complementary and alternative spas with yoga and aromatherapy on the menu, spas focusing on aesthetics with cosmetic surgery treatments, spas combining health and fitness assessment with pampering to just purely decadent spas that aim to have you feeling like a royal princess bathing in a tub of rose petals with ambient harp music in the background.

As well as working with patients to prevent serious illnesses like diabetes or obesity in a hospital setting, the European spas today also offer alternative therapies, pampering and beauty treatments to assist with relaxation and the wellbeing of their spa clients.  One thing is for certain, diagnostic and preventative healthcare is big business, and a spa vacation is a good way of incorporating these factors, as well as a fabulous solution to twenty first century stress!

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