24 Jun 2012 0 comments Lídia Penelo

Thalassotherapy, the sea as a source of health

Bathing in the sea has been, since the beginning of time, closely linked to medicine and aesthetics.  Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, could not be more clear when he spoke the words: “The sea heals the diseases of man. “Today, science has demonstrated that the water, breeze, the sand and algae are beneficial for our health

Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans showed us how to harness these resources and get the most out of the chemical composition of the sea: oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, chlorine, phosphorus and iodine. It isn’t surprising then, to learn about the thermal baths of Caracalla, a facility that back in its heyday –in the II century– was able to hold up to 3,000 people. A facility aimed at providing healing, relaxation and hygiene.

Airborne sea salts such as sodium or chlorine, along with minerals such as iodine (found in algae), are beneficial for the body upon contact with the epidermis. However, not all marine water is alike. Temperature, mineralization, the action of tides, ocean currents and the impact of sun are some of the factors that make them more suitable for one type of treatment or another.

Two places to be pampered

In Catalonia, the best place to go for an exclusive Thalassotherapy treatment is the Ra Beach Le Méridien Hotel & Spa, in the town of El Vendrell. It is located in the San Salvador beach in the province of Tarragona. Although the fountain of youth hasn’t yet been found, it might very well be near this place. Why? Well, because just a few miles from this beach there is a colony of algae that helps increase the levels of iodine in the water.

These algae are know as the “youth algae”, and are widely used in revitalization treatments. In this hotel you can enjoy a wide variety of therapies inspired in different cultures. Needless to say, one of its pillars is the thalassotherapy. You can also jump into a bathtub and enjoy an underwater massage or be smeared with therapeutic mud. It’s fun.

But if you don’t feel like giving yourself exclusively to the salty waters of the Mediterranean sea, you better pay a visit to Hotel Colón en Caldes d’Estrac in the county of Maresme, not far from Barcelona. Located on the seafront, this hotel occupies more than 2.000 square yards in which you can enjoy their vast expertise, not only in thalassotherapy, but in all kinds of treatments. Modern facilities aside, what’s exciting about this place also is its natural hot springs. For the longest time, hot springs have been one of the best attractions of this county. Even the Romans were already exploiting its benefits. They called this region Aquae Calidae (hot water).

The Hotel Colon

As a curiosity, next to the Plaça de la Vila (main square of Caldes d’Estrac) you will find the only government owned thermal baths in Catalonia. Housed in a nineteenth century building, the water source comes out at 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideal for mesotherapy.

Whether or not you feel tempted to get a thalassotherapy treatment, it’s undeniable that the seawater is a very rich source for minerals. But there are many secrets under the sea and scientists are diving to get answers. They have been studying its benefits, so drugs can be produced afterwards. One example is the poison some marine species use as a defense mechanism. Also, it has been shown that some types of algae from the Caribbean waters help heal wounds quickly and more efficiently. There is nothing like a good bath.

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