The Uses, Types, and Benefits of Thalassotherapy

25 April, 2021
Want to learn about the uses, types, and benefits of thalassotherapy? This technique uses elements of the marine environment (seawater, algae, sand, mud) to improve people's health. Its effectiveness has been proven and recommended.

Thalassotherapy consists of the therapeutic use of seawater and other elements of the marine environment, such as algae, sand, mud, or the breeze itself.

The word comes from the union of the Greek word thalassa, which means ‘sea’, and therapia, which refers to ‘cure’.

Today, we’ll tell you about the uses, types, and benefits of thalassotherapy.

The origins of thalassotherapy

The origins of this therapy date back to ancient Greece, in the writings of Hippocrates, who recommended the use of seawater to alleviate certain ailments. Later, in the Roman Empire, soldiers used hot seawater baths to recover from battles.

This therapeutic technique spread throughout Europe, especially in Italy, England, and France. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, its usefulness was studied and the first official thalassotherapy center was established: The Rochroum Marine Institute, located in France.

Uses of thalassotherapy

The principle behind thalassotherapy is that repeated immersion in warm seawater and application of sea mud and algae could contribute to the body’s natural chemical balance. This could be because the skin can absorb the minerals it needs (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium, and iodine).

This treatment also assumes that seawater contains substances similar to blood plasma. In fact, in marine liquid, there’s a greater amount of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium, and other elements. So, this similarity could favor the absorption of the substances through the body, as a way of maintaining homeostasis.

To guarantee the success of this technique, the place must have the necessary hygienic measures and specialized personnel. For this, the collection must take place far from the seashore. Then, it must go through a purification and sterilization process.

Indications for thalassotherapy

Experts recommend thalassotherapy to treat several conditions, including body pain, skin diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, tendinitis, and lumbago.

It can also be helpful in cases of circulation problems, such as hematomas, varicose veins, and recurrent nosebleeds. It can also provide benefits for those with emotional conditions having to do with stress and depression.

On the other hand, this therapeutic technique isn’t recommended in cases of cancer, severe hypertension, feverish conditions, and psychosis.

A woman with lower back pain from lifting a heavy box.
For muscular and joint pain, thalassotherapy is widely used in authorized centers.

Also read: Benefits and Myths Surrounding Detox Waters

Types of thalassotherapy

Thalassotherapy includes a series of therapeutic techniques that take advantage of the properties of marine elements to improve health and physical appearance. There are several methods of application and we’ll tell you about them below.

Seawater hydrotherapy

This includes baths in tubs, either cold or hot (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), hydromassages, affusion sprays, and underwater showers. These techniques aim to relax the body, stimulate circulation, relieve respiratory system problems, and improve muscle tone.

Algotherapy

This consists of the use of fresh or dried seaweed. It’s usually added to warm seawater baths or applied as thin wraps on the skin.

Seaweed is rich in minerals, proteins, and minerals. It has a revitalizing, antioxidant, and disinfectant action. Also, it helps to tone muscles, drain fluids, and help in the treatment of skin problems.

Marine Climatotherapy

Marina climatotherapy takes advantage of the properties of the marine environment, which is rich in iodine, ozone, and minerals. This could help the respiratory system and the skin. Also, sea air has relaxing effects to calm and improve mood disorders.

Hydrocysnotherapy

Hydrocynsnotherapy consists of performing therapeutic exercises in seawater, especially in a pool designed for this purpose. It usually focuses on the treatment of physical ailments.

Psammotherapy

This consists of covering the body with hot sand. The purpose is to alleviate joint or muscle conditions, providing heat to the affected area of the body. Also, the trace elements and sea salts in the sand benefit the muscular and skeletal structure.

Peloidotherapy

This involves the use of peloids, such as marine mud, algae, clay, and limestone. These elements are rich in minerals, vitamins, and proteins.

This treatment usually applies to conditions of the locomotor system (arthritis, arthrosis) or skin (acne, psoriasis, dermatitis).

The main benefits of thalassotherapy

So far, we’ve delved into the properties and forms of thalassotherapy. But what does the scientific evidence say about its benefits? Let’s see.

It relieves muscle fatigue, stiffness, and pain

There’s evidence to suggest that thalassotherapy has a positive effect on fatigue and recovery from muscle damage. This contributes to improving the health and quality of life of those suffering from these conditions.

In turn, research has shown that seawater aerobic exercises provide more advantages than other modalities. They cause an improvement in the emotional state of patients.

It promotes circulation

Seawater therapy improves blood circulation, which in turn, helps to relieve muscle spasms and replenish the body with oxygen and nutrients.

At the same time, a study showed that algae used in thalassotherapy improve circulation when applied in cosmetics.

Also read: Causes of Joint Pain; Seven Possible Reasons

It relieves joint pain

Another benefit is the relief of joint pain and increased movement in the joints. In fact, there’s evidence that aquatic treatment, including thalassotherapy, improves the function of the joints between bones. It also increases relaxation and promotes a positive mood.

A bowl of algae.
Algae are incorporated into gastronomy for their nutritional properties. Thalassotherapy aims to transfer its benefits through direct application.

It improves skin conditions

Thalassotherapy also contributes to the relief of several skin conditions. In fact, the minerals and trace elements present in the marine environment provide the necessary substances to soothe skin irritation (in cases of psoriasis and dermatitis) or accelerate wound healing.

It stimulates emotional processes

There’s evidence that thalassotherapy, in conjunction with sleep management techniques, reduces daytime sleepiness, improves mood and cognitive function, decreases levels of anger, stress, and depression. At night, it increases sleep quality and relieves anxiety.

Consult a professional before doing thalassotherapy

If you suffer from any condition and wish to try out the benefits of thalassotherapy for yourself, it’s best to first consult a health specialist. They’ll know how to give you the appropriate orientations and indications according to your case.

Remember that there are contraindications. Also, make sure you go to specialized centers that guarantee hygiene and procedures.

However, if you don’t suffer from a serious condition and wish to benefit from the marine environment, all you have to do is take a trip to the beach, breathe in the air, and relax. In these cases, don’t forget to use good sunscreen!

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