Water is for Life

We all know we need to drink water to remain at our optimum health and fitness. But what actually happens to the human body if you don’t drink water? The answer is that every human body is comprised of about 60% water, which is needed for a number of human bodily processes including blood circulation, regulation of body temperature, waste removal and detoxification. During everyday functioning, water is lost by the body, and this needs to be replaced. We notice that we lose water through activities such as sweating and urination, but water is lost even when breathing. It is essential to maintain a balanced water level, by drinking enough throughout the day. How much water you need to drink a day, depends on factors such as your age, body fat and gender and where you live. Men roughly need between 2-3 litres of water a day, while women need a bit less around 2 to 2.5 litres. If you don’t drink enough water, the outcome is usually very bad.

When you stop drinking water, you experience the signs of dehydration: feelings of thirst, hunger and irritability. As you continue to not drink, you stop urinating, have trouble swallowing, suffer from muscle spasms and experience nausea. Your blood stops flowing to the skin and your core body temperature increases. The lack of blood flow in your skin may cause you to turn a greyish- blue colour. After three to five days of not drinking water, your organs begin to shut down, especially the brain, which could have lethal consequences including fainting, strokes and in extreme cases, even death.

Scary stuff indeed, and this really does stress the sheer importance of the simple act of drinking water. Something which many off us struggle to do. According to the NHS website, drinking water, whether from the tap or a bottle, is the best source of fluid for the body. Fluid can be gained from other beverages and obtained through foods with a high- water content, such as soups, tomatoes and oranges but water is the best choice as it’s calorie-free. So much is talked about water and there are so many contractionary facts and very little science behind many of the specific rules. So just where do we start?

Universally agreed, on is that to function properly, all the cells and organs of the body need water, it lubricates the joints, it delivers oxygen throughout the body and forms saliva and mucus. (Helping us to digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist) Water is needed in the processes of sweating and removal of urine and faeces. it makes minerals and nutrients accessible, as these dissolve in water, which makes it possible for them to reach different parts of the body.  It boosts skin health and beauty, with dehydration, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling. Some evidence also suggests that increasing water intake can promote weight loss by slightly increasing your metabolism, which can increase the number of calories you burn on a daily basis.

Staying hydrated is vital. Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 2% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function. Drinking a glass of water when you feel tired will help to power up your brain.  Since your brain consists of 75% water, drinking a glass or two when you’re feeling sleepy will help to replenish your brain’s fluid levels, and increase cognitive functioning.  If you don’t your physical performance can also suffer particularly during intense exercise or high heat. it isn’t uncommon for athletes to lose as much as 10% of their water weight via sweat. This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.

In a study, researchers found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration and increased the frequency of headaches. A headache is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. Some studies have shown too that drinking water can help relieve headaches in those who experience frequent headaches.

Asthma and allergies are worse, when dehydrated, as airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. So, drinking water can help alleviate symptoms.

The science claims that drinking water at the correct times of day can help to prevent common problems such as stomach pain, IBS, bloating, fatigue, overeating, high blood pressure, constipation, and even heart attacks and strokes. But when are the correct times?

Ayurveda suggests that is a healthy habit to drink water first thing in the morning, which is known as Ushapan. It helps get rid of many diseases in the body. Drinking water in the morning helps in flushing all the toxins in the body and cleanses your intestines. A glass or two first thing, can also help to jumpstart your brain and body out of sleep mode.

The correct way to drink water is to sit down with a glass of water and sip slowly and steadily. Unnecessary gulping of huge amounts of water may lead to lack of oxygen in the wind and food pipe, which could potentially give rise to heart problems. Drinking room temperature water is preferred over very cold water. By drinking one glass of water 30 minutes before and after a meal it aids digestion and allows the body to absorb the nutrients. Not only does the water prepare your intestines, it also prevents you from over-eating, since the water lines your stomach and makes you feel fuller faster. If you’re hungry between meals, pour yourself a glass of water to see if you’re actually dehydrated. Sometimes people think they’re hungry when they’re really just thirsty. Remember not to drink too soon after a meal as the water can dilute the digestive juices and we absorb water best when our stomachs are not full of food. Also drinking too much water during a heavy meal can lead to discomfort and feeling even more bloated. Drinking water before taking a bath can help lower blood pressure. An hour before bedtime drinking one glass of water replenishes any fluid loss that can occur during the night.

Avoid drinking water while standing as it can have an adverse effect on your kidneys, and can even lead to arthritis. Sitting while drinking allows your body to better filter the nutrients and direct the water to specific areas that need nourishing.

When drinking Alcohol (which is a diuretic, so it makes you lose more water than you take in can leading to dehydration) increasing water intake is often recommended. Drink a glass of water between drinks and have at least one glass of water before going to bed can prevent unpleasant symptoms experienced after drinking alcohol like hangovers.

Keep yourself hydrated while exercising is important, but avoid drinking too much. it’s incredibly rare, but it’s possible to drink so much water you put your health at risk. Excess water consumption during your workout will dilute your body’s natural balance of salt and you can become too low in sodium, a condition known as hyponatremia which leads to cell swelling that can cause nausea, vomiting, seizures and death.

Many people struggle to know which type of water is the best for them, because the market is so full, each brand claiming to have additional health benefits. Concerns about tap water and uncertainty about the health benefits to water filters just add to the confusion. It’s too vast a subject to talk about in a few lines, so I will post an additional blog post.

However, I would say that the health specialists, I have listened to, generally felt that for most people in developed countries tap water is just fine. If you prefer bottled spring water for its crisper flavour, that’s perfectly acceptable. Flavoured shop- bought waters can contain additives, so are best avoided. It may turn out that a lot comes down to personal preference.

Sleep- A Super Power

Why is sleep important? A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of great health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without the super power of sleeping well. And like nutrition and exercise, there is no one-size-fits-all number for the hours of sleep each of us needs. The ideal number varies according to age, gender and lifestyle. But we do all feel so much better after a good night’s sleep. After nine hours of sleeping like a log, you can wake up feeling bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to take on anything the day might throw at you. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can interfere with natural sleep patterns. As busy as we are, it isn’t a surprise that sleep is usually the first pillar of the health foundation to be overlooked.

Sleep is important for various aspects of our health. In fact, sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risks factors; brain function, mental health issues, immune system, the appearance of your skin, protecting against heart disease, your ability to interact socially, a loss of sleep can even increase one’s risk for obesity and weight gain.

How to sleep better is obviously upper most in our minds, with 76% of us feeling we don’t get enough sleep. People with medical conditions are more likely to suffer from poor sleep, according to The Sleep Council’s Great British Bedtime Report. It’s been estimated that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality. Getting a good night’s sleep can help to keep your immune system fighting fit and keep germs at bay. Sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair, which is one of the reasons you feel tired and want to sleep more when you’re unwell. Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any foreign invaders your body might come into contact with, like the common cold. it’s essential to allow yourself time to rest and recover when you’re not feeling well. Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.

A consistent loss of sleep can increase one’s risk for obesity and weight gain. That’s because lack of sleep influences the body’s hormonal responses, some of which are decreased insulin sensitivity. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories. So poor sleeping can affect your weight. So bad news for dieters.

What are the benefits to your brain, learning and creative power? And so what happens when you sleep?  Well, sleep gives your brain a chance to sort things out. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what kinds of organizing your brain does while you sleep, but they think that this might be the time when the brain sorts and stores information and solves problems. Creativity can also be boosted overnight. How often do great ideas come to mind on waking up!

A study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that people who slept seven to nine hours a night had skin that was more moisturized and that could protect and heal itself better compared to those who slept five hours or less. Your body boosts blood flow to the skin while you snooze, which means you wake to a healthy glow.  When you skimp on your sleep your complexion can look drab, ashen and lifeless. So, you not only feel better after a good night’s sleep but look better too.

What else can impact sleep? Eating heavy meals late at night, alcohol and caffeine drinks like coffee can cause problems sleeping, so are best avoided, herbal teas can be help and most supermarkets and health stores carry a large selection of teas and natural remedies. Technology can affect sleep, like using phones and computers at night, so for an hour or so before bedtime, turn these off and never use these in bed.

Stress often causes poor sleep patterns. If you’ve got a lot on your mind and are struggling with your emotions, going over things in your head can often keep you awake at night. If you are up at night worrying, you might begin to see a change in your mood and a lack of sleep can leave you feeling low. This could then cause you to feel anxious and create more negative thoughts about not sleeping. This might keep you awake even longer and can turn into a vicious cycle of worry and poor sleep. Its hard to stop this happening so try talking about worries before bedtime or even get professional help.

Try to keep a consistent bedtime and wake up time as our body clocks thrive on routine. Having a set wake up time seven days a week is important, particularly when we are having problems sleeping.

We need bedtime to be positive and relaxing, so a warm bath, hot drink or reading a book is a simple and effective wind-down after a busy day. The website https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/ offers detailed advice for all sleep-related issues.

Remember sleep is a super power we all need to survive and strive and its free.

Coronavirus and Sleep Patterns

Are you feeling sleep-deprived this winter? Yes, then you have joined over half of the population, who are reporting getting as little as just four hours sleep a night on average. Which is totally shocking and falling very short of the recommended six to eight hours sleep every night. The state of the nation’s sleep has come under scrutiny as more people admit they are unhappy with the quality of their sleep and the effect it is having on their ability to function daily.

According to a major survey commissioned by three of the leading bodies championing sleep, Sleep Station, The Sleep Council and The Sleep Charity. More than 2,700 people took part in the National Sleep Survey to provide an overview of the nation’s sleep during the Covid-19 global pandemic, the biggest UK survey of its kind to date on this subject. And it found that the coronavirus was affecting all aspects of sleep. Nearly four in 10 people (39%) are now going to bed later but also believe that the amount of sleep they get is shorter than normal. Nearly a third (30%) are also waking earlier. Significantly, women find it harder to fall asleep (46%) with men more likely to report no change or slightly longer sleep duration. Nearly three in every 10 people (26%) said waking too early was worse now than before. More than a third (33%) are experiencing more vivid dreams.

Sleeping well is crucial to our physical and mental health and wellbeing. With people experiencing signs of depression and reporting that lack of sleep is impacting on their mood, concentration and how tired they feel in the day, we have been exposed to lots of government advice around diet, exercise and how to look after our mental health during these challenging times. However, we’ve not heard anything concrete around sleep and it has never been more important. Lisa Artis, head of The Sleep Council

Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert who works with The Sleep Council added that millions of Britain’s have been impacted by the coronavirus in some way. The survey findings come amid rising concern that these unprecedented times are causing a surge in sleep issues. A lack of support, or lack of awareness of the help available for those issues, could have a lasting impact on the people of Britain.

The first Lockdown hit us all hard and now we are all back for a re-run. It’s much harder to stick to the routines we have in our usual life’s. No one knows what day it is; bedtimes have become much later and it’s harder to get up in the morning, plus we’re all feeling a little more anxious than normal. We know we should be getting exercise but its not as easy in winter than in summer-time. I have a treadmill at home but it’s still difficult to make myself use this everyday in lieu of walking to work daily. And it’s not just adults, this is also impacting on children. In these extraordinary times, it is fully understandable that sleep patterns may have changed for the worst. Too many of us check emails, social media or browse the internet before bedtime, some of us even use our phones and computers in bed. Over-use of computers and mobile phones is most likely adding to the problems of us not sleeping well.

The Sleep Council have offered the following advice:

  1. Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better. Choose a time when you are most likely to feel sleepy.
  2. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible.
  3. Regular, moderate exercise such as walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake!
  4. Caffeine is a stimulant and its effect on sleep is well known – it interferes with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Try and avoid it 4-5 hours before bedtime; have a hot milky drink or an herbal tea instead
  5. While alcohol initially relaxes you and helps you to nod off, it decreases the amount of time you spend in REM sleep (deep, restorative sleep). Plus, you will find you wake in the night dehydrated and needing the loo
  6. Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music, do some yoga – all help to relax both the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation tape, too.
  7. Blue light inhibits the night-time secretion of melatonin and impacts on sleep latency so avoid screen time at least an hour before bed.

The website https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/ offers a range of helpful advice on improving sleep patterns. Self-care is so important right now, and a good night’s sleep can help so much with the upheavals we are all going through. Reading a book or listening to some relaxing music is going to be more helpful to sleeping that watching the latest news updates. Worrying about the future is natural but we can handle stressful times much better when we are getting enough sleep.

I have replaced my old bedding with a lovely new throw, which is cosy and attractive and this also stops me from siting on my bed to work, which I usually do. If you keep your bedroom for relaxing only particularly as so many people are working from home, this may improve your sleep.

 Look after yourself and Sleep well!

Brain Power As You Age

I love the idea of living a long life, but it has to be with a good degree of health and fitness and an active brain. Now, unless I have a fairy godmother, that I know nothing about the only way this is going to happen is with a fair amount of effort on my part. I have been amazed at all the incredible folk in their eighties, nineties and even over a hundred like the inspirational Sir Tom, who have appearing recently up on various TV programmes. These are the generations that have survived war-time, recessions, national strikes and quite a few ups and downs, but their strength, resilience and good humour still shows through.

Now we know that our brain’s volume gradually shrinks as you get older. When this occurs, some of the nerve cells in your brain can shrink or lose connections with other nerve cells. Blood flow within your brain also slows as you age. These age-related changes are thought to be behind the differences in cognitive function many people notice as they age. However, myths about ageing can contribute to a failing memory. Middle-aged and older learners do worse on memory tasks when they’re exposed to negative stereotypes about an ageing memory and better when given positive messages about memory preservation into old age. Therefore, if you believe you can improve your brainpower and put this into practice, you have a much better chance of keeping your mind sharp. My seventy-six-year-old mother has just starting learning Spanish on Duolingo and after 3 days was at the top of the leader board, so age is no obstacle to learning a new skill.

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being and staying mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Work can keep us mentally active and when you retire pursuing a hobby or learning a new skill can help maintain brain power. The belief that exercising our brains through mentally stimulating activities like puzzles, makes a lot of sense, if we want our brain to stay in peak condition, we should always use it. Other activities like; reading, playing chess or bridge, writing, learning a language, art and music not only stimulate the brain but keep life interesting and worthwhile. My neighbour who is in her late nineties plays bridge daily and is as bright and alert as she was decades ago.

My family throughout the lock-down has had a weekly quiz night on Zoom which we all love and hopefully will continue. Jigsaws and board games have been taken out of the loft and families across the country have been playing these together. If we all kept doing this and not spending hours on social media and mindless gaming, we would notice the difference.

Studies of cognitive ageing often ask people in older age to complete tests of their thinking skills and provide details about activities they do. Almost all of those studies find that the people who carry out much more stimulating mental activities have better thinking skills in older age.

There has been a growing market for so-called brain- training products. These are often computer-based games or tasks specifically designed to be mentally stimulating. These products are popular but there is controversy over whether brain- training really does protect thinking skills in later life. A group of leading research experts has argued that evidence that brain training can help combat cognitive decline as we grow older is limited. Their view was that people who play these games get better at them but might not see improvements in their thinking skills more broadly. One of the biggest companies selling these products was fined in 2016, by the US government Federal Trade Commission for making claims that weren’t supported by evidence and that in the Commission’s words;

Preyed on consumers fears about age-related cognitive decline.

Personality I think that although the evidence on the benefits is still incomplete, there are many great reasons for taking up new activities in later life. Doing hobbies and activities that we enjoy are important to maintaining a good quality of life and well-being in older age. I would mention that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money, the internet provides free quizzes etc and you may be able to join classes at a reduced rate or even for free. Mixing with a younger age group is important and staying engaged and interested in the world around you can help to keep your minds sharp. I have been learning three languages online. It’s challenging at times but also rewarding, great fun and free.

There is promising research that indicates that taking the following steps may help preserve your memory and thinking skills as you age: controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, not smoking or drinking excessively, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, getting a good education, stimulating your brain, socializing and staying active in old age.

A new study suggests that in fact, older people who were physically active kept their minds sharper as well as having better health. I thing all these steps are achievable for us all. Now I am middle-aged, I realise just how important it is to be healthy both physically and mentally. No amount of success or wealth matters if we are not in good health and cannot still do tasks or have the ability to think.

So just by making some simple changes now can affect the quality of life in your later years….

Epsom Salts- A Grandma’s Cure

Epsom Salts also known as Magnesium sulfate, are gaining a new generation of fans looking for a safe, inexpensive alternative to high- priced over-the-counter remedies. For hundreds of years, this salt has been used to treat ailments such as: constipation, healing wounds, insomnia and fibromyalgia. Although its effects on these conditions are not well researched or proven scientifically, many people swear by this folk remedy. Its potential uses are numerous as a natural remedy with plenty of health benefits, for beauty purposes to improve the quality of hair and skin, for household related uses and as a garden fertilizer.

Becoming a sought-after cure for constipation, for hundreds of years, following a happenstance discovery. During a drought in 1618, a local cow herder called Henry Wicker bent down to drink from a pool of water on Epsom Common. He found the water tasted acidic and bitter. As the water evaporated, Wicker noticed white residue left behind and realized after drinking the water that it had a laxative effect. The term Epsom salt and its medicinal properties were established by a chemist Nehemiah Grew in 1695. He called the mineral found in the spring water after the nearest town, Epsom. Nehemiah acquired a royal patent for the exclusive manufacturing of Epsom salt, which soon became cheaply available over the counter. He called it Bitter Purging Salts and this was the first recorded laxative.

Until early 17th century, Epsom was only a small rural community. After the discovery of the springs rich in Magnesium sulfate, it expanded and developed into a spa town, one of the earliest in Britain. The water was said to have purgative powers and was drunk on empty stomach from stoneware mugs. People came from all around Europe to drink the healing waters. Though originally known as a spa town, little remains today apart from a water pump. Epsom was unable to compete with other developing Spa towns like, Bath and Harrogate, because of the low supply of spring water.

 In 1755, a British chemist and physicist named Joseph Black conducted experiments on the chemical properties of Magnesium sulfate. He proposed that Magnesium be classified as an element.

Due to the specific composition, the benefits and actions of Epsom salt are different from those of sea salt or common bath salts. While bath salts usually contain various ingredients as part of their proprietary blend, Epsom salt is a pure mineral compound of Magnesium and sulfate. There are major differences in how Epsom salt and sea salt are obtained. While Epsom salt is usually refined in a chemical process or boiled down, sea salt is obtained by evaporating sea water. Sea salt is edible and widely used in cooking. Where as Epsom salt can be unpalatable because of the bitterness it is edible in very small amounts. It’s often referred to as bitter salt.

Magnesium is essential in the human body for muscle and nerve function and maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s also needed to maintain a regular heartbeat, sufficient blood glucose and strong bones. Most of the reported benefits of Epsom salts are attributed to its Magnesium content, a mineral that most people lack. When Epsom salt is dissolved in water it releases Magnesium and sulfate ions. It is involved in more than 325 biochemical reactions that benefit your heart and nervous system.

As a medication administered intravenously, it can stave off premature birth and alleviate seizures caused by several conditions, including magnesium deficiency, pre-eclampsia, and eclampsia.

The benefits of a soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts are many; easing of muscle soreness and stress, relieving cramps, skin irritation and inflammation, soothing sunburn and treating sprains. When used as a footbath it soothes sore feet. (Apply a paste from 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt mixed with water) To take an Epsom salt bath; add 2 cups of Epsom salt to the water and soak your body for at least 15 minutes. While Magnesium sulfate can be taken as a supplement it is claimed that Magnesium may be better absorbed via an Epsom salt bath than when taken orally.

NB. It should not be added to a bath for anyone with an open wound, severe burns, severe skin inflammation or a skin infection.

Integrative medical specialists (a healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person including lifestyle) often recommend Epsom salts for both physical and mental health benefits. Adequate magnesium levels are essential for sleep and stress management. Magnesium may also help your body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

It serves important bodily functions too, taken by mouth as a laxative as Magnesium is often used to treat constipation. It appears to be helpful because it draws water into your colon, which promotes bowel movements. If you use it as a laxative, make sure to drink plenty of water.

I do hope I have shown you some of the benefits of adding this affordable product to your life, I’ve used this myself for many years. I would advise that you only buy the salt from a reputable source such as a leading health store or chemist and make sure to buy 100% Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulfate) and not a blended version as this does not contain the same health benefits.

Japanese Bathing Rituals

It would be difficult to research and write about bathing rituals without looking at Japanese bathing, this is a phenomenon remarkably different from most traditions in the modern Western world. I’ve not been fortunate to visit Japan yet, I would really love to visit such a diverse and fascinating country. I have been reading about at the customs of Sento, Furo and Onsen and the significance of the bathing culture to Japan. This is not just about washing the body but ritual purifications embedded in the Japanese culture for centuries. There is no better example of literally immersing yourself in another culture than the bathing rituals that have endured for many lifetimes.

Sento

Is an age-old Japanese practice of public baths, to cleanse both the mind and body. Sento Bathing became popular amongst common people who relished baths at Buddhist temples. Empress Kōmyō began the practice of charity baths, where she would wash beggars at temple baths. Charity baths eventually became an act of reverence for ancestors and practitioners who would offer baths to any person, regardless of age, sex or social status. The evolution of temple bathing to include charity baths and public bathhouses demonstrates the connection between religion and bathing in Japan. The popularity of public baths continued to increase, particularly during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. The first public bathhouse in Tokyo was founded in 1591. By the late Edo period, there were over 500 Sento in Tokyo. Both gender-divided and mixed baths were popular during this period, despite the Shogun’s concerns about the potential for immoral behaviour in mixed baths. The prudishness of 19th century Westerners led the government to ban mixed bathing to make Japan seem more civilized. In the early 17th century, amusement and recreation was frequently combined with bathing. Men could often have their backs washed by women called Yuna or bath prostitutes. (Until the government outlawed these). Large groups of people that would travel to their local Sento to eat, drink and sing. It introduced the concept of social mixing which not only aided in slowly deconstructing the existing social hierarchy but created a new cultural flow between the elite and commoners, this had a lasting effect on Japanese social status- quo.

Even after WWII, it was still relatively common for people to not have baths, due to the post-war construction boom in residential housing without bathing facilities or running water. So, the only way to bathe was to attend a Sento at the end of their day.  They continued to be built well into the mid-20th century, with the number of bathhouses reaching their national peak in 1968 at 18,325. Today, the number has dwindled to around 4,000.  Japanese people are now able to afford baths or showers in their own homes. For a class-conscious society, the Sento has become an embarrassing reminder of an impoverished past, and as the ranks of Japan’s nouveau riche have continued to swell, a stigma has fallen upon those who patronize the humble Sento. However, it remains a veritable oasis in many communities, especially in the suffocating hot summers and cold winters.

The two main kinds of traditional Sento are Furoya , steam baths, and Yuya a central large communal bath. Ancient cultures believed in the healing effect of water and today the Japanese believe the adoption of hot baths and its related procedures are the cure for many ailments such as: obesity, kidney disease, rheumatism and neurological disorders. The Sento is roughly divided into two sections: where you wash and where you relax. It is vital to wash thoroughly before entering the relaxation baths. Most baths are classed by temperature: tei-on (tepid) to chu-on (warm) which is bearable for 10 minutes or so. The waters of Sento differ from those of Onsen in that they are not naturally heated.

Some Sento have evolved into Super-Sento, which charges a higher price than the public sento and offers an all-day luxurious bathing experience more like an Onsen. It caters to the Japanese post-modern love of all things comfortable and affordable, usually boasting between fifteen to twenty different types of baths, ranging from jacuzzi tubs, whirlpool baths, steam baths, open-air baths to dry saunas. The Ja-Kuu-Ji, Japanese for jacuzzi bath, is popular, and many are spiked with scented bath oils to sooth and restore vitality. The Uutase Buro massages the head, shoulder, spine and back with a high-pressure stream of hot water pummelling down from a meter or so above. Some Sentos have tapped spring water, which enables them to recreate the Rotemburo: an outdoor hot spring that is a cheap alternative to the more expensive Onsen. The Denki Buro (Electric Bath) is a small bath equipped with steel plates that discharge pulsing currents of electricity into the submerged bather to relax the muscles.

While the future of the traditional Sento is bleak the Super-Sento is poised to solidify its position as a staple of Japanese culture. No longer mystical or godly, the modern-day Sento has reinvented itself as an affordable, chill-out, entertainment, yet still elevated beyond a mere bath. So, for total relaxation and the bliss of total cleanliness, the cultural experience of a Sento is a real must!

Furo– Home bathing version of Sento

Bathing in your own home in Japan is called Furo or the more common form of Ofuro. As part of the Japanese ritual of bathing, these are not meant for washing but rather for relaxing and warming oneself. To achieve cleanliness, the bather washes before entering the bath. Furos are seen as a total renewal on many levels including spiritually. In a Japanese-style bath the water is heated to 110° F or even hotter. In private Japanese homes the bathing facilities are always constructed separately from the washing and toilet facilities. The Furo started the popularity of hot-water soaking in other countries, especially the hot tub craze. Today several firms specialize in the construction of wooden Japanese-style bathtubs. The home version of the Ofuro includes a wooden box or a small pool of water with a couple of benches inside. These large baths were traditionally made of Hinoki, Japanese cypress, which is considered sacred. The modern Japanese bath is a high-tech affair that can automatically refill the bath or reheat the water. Within a home’s private ofuro, family members bathe together and discuss their day in a relaxing environment. These larger baths are fairly new, before that, the family used the bath in order of importance, with guests going first, men before women and the eldest family member before the youngest. The Shimai-Buro, the house wife, went last so she cleaned up after everyone else.

Onsen- Japanese hot springs

The Japanese archipelago is highly volcanic with over 100 active volcanoes and rich hot springs which have become recognised landmarks. Over 25,500 hot springs bubble in Japan year-round and are distributed according to the numerous volcanic chains running through the archipelago. The wealth of hot springs led to the development of Onsen. Which is an excellent way to enjoy Japan’s natural beauty, particularly during cold winters.

 The Japanese have been bathing in the natural hot springs for well over a thousand years, and there are many historical accounts of feudal lords having their own favourite Onsen spots, kakushiyu, where they may have let their samurai bathe after battle. Claims regarding the curative properties precede Buddhism’s introduction to Japan. The Onsen’s healing waters were frequently believed to be gifts from animals, gods or Buddhist deities. The Japanese longevity and long-standing dedication to Onsen are a testament to the positive effects of natural springs on health and well-being. The healing benefits of each Onsen depends on the minerals in its water; hydrogen carbon-rich springs smooth the skin, sulphurous springs help manage blood pressure and keep arteries supple, and iron-heavy springs soothe achy joints and muscles even easing arthritis. Taking to the waters of Onsen has historically carried spiritual and religious meanings in addition to their cleansing and healing properties. Devotional bathing and charity baths show how Buddhism and bathing are intertwined in Japanese history and culture.

Generations of Japanese women and men have practiced the ritual of bathing in mineral-rich Onsens for beautification and health. Despite the technological advances in skin care coming from Asia, Japanese women still consider Onsens a fundamental part of their beauty regimen. Dermatologists have long known that sulphur nourishes the skin, is anti-inflammatory, heals acne and relieves various skin conditions. But beyond the science lays a few centuries of nourishing the soul and a mythical history.

Within the Onsen, there may be one large bath or several big pools, these can be indoors or outdoors. The Rotenburo is an outdoor bath, allowing you to experience nature while enjoying the shelter of a roof of some sort and the heat of the bath. After showering, they slowly lower themselves into the water in the pools, exhaling a long, protracted achii, meaning hot, and then relax and practice mindfulness.

Many newer versions of onsens have been adapted to appeal to the changing needs and interests of Japanese consumers and tourists. The modern Onsen resort experience includes up-scale hotels and spas to replace Ryokans (inns)

Where to try Onsen Bathing in Japan:

Noboribetsuo: On the northern island of Hokkaido, a volcanic area known as Hell Valley supports the town’s thermal pools.

Takaragawa: Tokyoites flock to this Onsen for a dose of nature with their skin-reviving soak. The large outdoor baths are mixed-gender.

Naoshima: The public bathhouse here doubles as an art installation commissioned as one of many contemporary artworks and museums on this remote fishing island in the Seto Inland Sea.

Kinosaki: This old-fashioned village north of Kyoto, has bathing options which range from historic bathhouses to private tubs in ryokans.

it is certain that bathing culture in Japan is vibrant and still flourishing indicating a long-term economic stability and prosperity. By continuously reinventing themselves to remain entertaining and engaging, Onsen and Sento continue to about much more than a simple bath.

The Benefits of Seaweed- Inside and Outside

Inside- Edible

As I mentioned in my last blog post there are huge benefits to bathing with seaweed, however there are also has great benefits for inside as well as outside your body as seaweed holds a reputation as a nutrient-rich superfood. Seaweed or sea vegetables are forms of algae that grow in the sea and are found along rocky shorelines around the world. Its full of vitamins and protein as well as been low-calorie, crunchy and salty so is both nutritious and tasty. Seaweed has long been a staple of many Asian diets particularly in Japanese cuisine but has become increasing popular among health-conscious eaters for the fact that it’s plant-based and high in protein, it has as much calcium as milk, depending on the type of seaweed so is perfect for a vegan diet. Seaweed features powerful anti-viral properties that have been shown to guard against the influenza virus so during the cold and flu season it is worth increasing your intake of this marine plant. (Take note, a little goes a long way) It’s extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups and stews, salads, supplements and smoothies. In Brittany, in France, an area which has a kelp forest called the Lamiariar, fisherman minced seaweed in butter which they called Beurre des Algues they ate this on bread and used it to cook fish.

Research is underway in using an extract called alginate (taken from types of brown seaweed) to add fibre to junk food favourites such as burgers, pies and cake. Adding the seaweed extract could quadruple the amount of fibre in white bread. A low fibre diet in the western world is seen as one of the most harmful dietary problems in staying healthy today.

While there are more than 100 types of edible seaweed, these are the varieties you’ll see the most often:

  1. Nori, think of this as the gateway seaweed. It shows up on sushi rolls and in sheets as seaweed snacks.
  2. Kelp- also known as kombu, kelp is the primary ingredient in dashi, a Japanese stock that forms the base of miso soup. Kelp powder can be added to smoothie’s.
  3. Wakame-is the main component of most seaweed salads and the wide, slippery seaweed found in miso soup.

There are several ways of adding seaweed to your diet; kombu can be added to dried beans. (It helps break down the sugars in beans that cause gas) Kelp can be added to coleslaw. Furikake is a topping that includes sesame seeds and nori and can be added to popcorn, roasted veggies, cooked fish and omelettes. Spirulina adds more health benefits to a fruit smoothie.

The colours of seaweed range in colour from Red to Green to Brown to Black: Green algae is sea lettuce or ulva, Brown algae is kombu, arame, kelp and wakame, Red algae is dulse, laver, and nori, and Blue-green algae is spirulina.

There are 7 science-backed benefits of seaweed:

  1. Iodine and Tyrosine (an amino acid) is needed by your thyroid gland to function properly. The thyroid gland releases hormones to help control growth, energy production, reproduction and the repair of damaged cells in your body. Seaweed has the unique ability to absorb concentrated amounts of iodine from the ocean. Without enough iodine, you may start to experience symptoms like weight changes, fatigue or swelling of the neck. Kelp is one of the best sources of iodine.
  2. Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals, each type of seaweed has a unique set of nutrients. Seaweed also contains small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, along with folate, zinc, sodium, calcium and magnesium. The protein present in some seaweeds, such as spirulina and chlorella, contain all of the essential amino acids helping to ensure you get the full range of amino acids. Seaweed can also be a good source of omega-3 fats and vitamin B12.
  3. Contains a variety of protective Antioxidants, which can make unstable substances in your body called free radicals less reactive which makes them less likely to damage your cells. Excess free radical production is considered to be an underlying cause of several diseases.
  4. In addition, seaweed boasts a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including flavonoids and carotenoids. These have been shown to protect your body’s cells from free radical damage too. Fucoxanthin is the main carotenoid found in brown algae, such as wakame. Fucoxanthin, has been shown to protect cell membranes better than vitamin A. While the body does not always absorb fucoxanthin well, absorption may be improved by consuming it along with fats.
  5. Seaweed provides fibre and polysaccharides that can support your gut health. Gut bacteria play an enormous role in your health. You have more bacteria cells in your body than human cells. An imbalance in these good and bad gut bacteria can lead to sickness and disease. Seaweed has a higher fibre content than most fruits and vegetables.
  6. It may help you lose weight by delaying hunger and reducing weight. Seaweed contains a lot of fibre but does not contain any calories. This helps you feel fuller for longer and can delay hunger pangs. Fucoxanthin, contributes to an increased metabolism and may help reduce body fat.
  7. A reduction in the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Seaweed may help reduce your blood cholesterol levels. It also contains carbohydrates called fucans, which may help prevent blood from clotting. Diabetes, occurs when your body is unable to balance your blood sugar levels over time. Seaweed gives additional improvements in controlling blood sugar. A substance in seaweed called alginate prevented blood sugar spikes and may also reduce the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

N.B- Although seaweed is considered a very healthy food, there may be some potential dangers of consuming too much. As it can contain a very large and potentially dangerous amount of iodine. High amounts of seaweed can affect thyroid function, and symptoms of too much iodine are often the same as symptoms of not enough iodine. Seaweed can absorb and store minerals in concentrated amounts. This poses a health risk, as seaweed can also contain large amounts of toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead. It is best to buy organic seaweed, as it’s less likely to contain significant amounts of heavy metals.

The fact that it’s plant-based and high in protein as well as containing many other nutrients would make it ideal for a vegetarian or vegan to help any deficiencies in their diet. I think it’s a great idea to add seaweed to your diet for extra fibre too which is often too low in the typical western diet. As a healthy, natural, substantiable food it is very on trend at the current time!

I will write about using seaweed, outside or on the body in my next post.

Water Power-Hydrotherapy, Balneotherapy and Thalassothreapy

Water is the most receptive element and the greatest receiver of energy. In my last blog post, I talked about the history of the practice of the Water Cure, which is a combination of Hydrotherapy, Balneotherapy and Thalassotherapy. Whilst in the main these water therapies are best practised in a spa or with trained practitioners, some aspects like Balneotherapy can be done at home.

I have covered a little about each method below:

Hydrotherapy is a therapeutic whole-body treatment that involves moving and exercising in water, it can also be called Aqua therapy. Hydrotherapy pools are usually different from ordinary pools – the temperature, pressure and movement of water is controlled and changed according to the requirements of the person having the treatment. However, you could have hydrotherapy treatments in any water or pool. Being immersed, buoyant or massaged in water can relieve our bodies in a variety of different ways, and hydrotherapy can help with many physical and emotional complaints; including rheumatic pain and arthritis, poor muscle and skin tone, back pain, muscle or ligament injuries; broken limbs, neurological conditions such as strokes or brain injuries. Doctors often prescribe a course of hydrotherapy as part of a treatment program. It is also used by athletes to improve and maintain their general health and fitness, and by others as part of a healthy whole-body. Hydrotherapy is often prescribed by a GP or therapist as part of a course of treatment: a program of movements and exercises is tailored to your needs.

NB- If you’re having hydrotherapy at a spa, you may well be having a more general treatment, in which case just be aware of the power of the water.

There are different versions of Hydrotherapy, I have listed several below:

The Watsu Method– Also called water Shiatsu, is a combination of Aqua therapy and Shiatsu. Watsu is based on stretching the body in the supportive, relaxing medium of warm water. Besides the physical benefits this also has benefits mentally. The Watsu method has a general relaxation and calming effect that soothes the muscle tension and stimulates all of the body systems and organs by nourishing the energy flow.

The Feldenkrais Method- This method promotes teaching individuals about the quality of their movements and how to move effortlessly with ease and efficiency. This is called Awareness Through Movement, many of the aspects of this can be successfully adapted to water. The properties of water can affect movement; for example, the relationship of yourself to gravity combined with the unique attributes of the Feldenkrais method.

The Burdenko Method– Is a method of Aqua therapy which is designed to address the 6 precepts of fitness: strength; flexibility; balance; co-ordination, endurance and speed. It is promoted as a great way to recover from injury or surgery.

Balneotherapy, is hydrotherapy without the exercise and is also called Spa therapy. Thermal water treatments are century-old practices, used all over the world and part of traditional therapies of ancient and modern cultures There are three basic ways of taking the waters, these are: externally, through immersion, either total or partial; into the lungs and respiratory tract, through the inhalation of aerosols; and internally, through drinking.  The various kinds of mineral waters have differing effects through each of these. Balneotherapy. is frequently used in alternative medicine as a disease cure and is very popular for treatment of all types of arthritis. Scientific studies have proven that balneotherapy could help in the reduction of pain in conditions such as low back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. It could also help manage stress also in a better way.

Water has different properties at different temperatures: Hot is stimulating and will relax muscles. Warm is gently reviving and will stimulate the appetite, cool, is soothing for heated skin and inflammation. Cold water can only be used for short intervals of time. This can be used after hot water for exhilaration and stimulating circulation. Alternating between hot and cold water can be a powerful technique. Balneologists have three major vectors for analysing and classifying the natural mineral waters that occur at various spa resorts. The thermal waters, as they come out of the earth, are naturally one of three temperatures:

     Hypothermal:  from cool to tepid, well below body temperature.

     Mesothermal:  warm, or around body temperature.

     Hyperthermal:  hot, or well above body temperature.

During immersion, the skin absorption of the minerals in the water can be considerable, especially in total body immersion and if the water is at a high temperature.  The skin and the peripheral lymphatic and capillary circulation are the most directly affected.  With aerosol inhalation, lung and respiratory conditions are targeted.  And with the internal imbibing of the waters, the digestive organs and the Natural Faculty are most directly affected, and through them, every organ and tissue in the body.  In addition, techniques like massage are used with salts, peats, clays and muds. In countries like Hungary and Poland, it has been in use for centuries for the treatment of common ailments.

Balneotherapy can be done at home. The following is a suggestion of ways to ensure it works for you:

Prepare the water in a bath, making sure the temperature is between 98.6 degrees and 107 degrees. If you want to stimulate your body or to treat mild fatigue, a bath at a temperature of 98.6 degrees is ideal. If you would like to soothe your muscles and joints after an intense workout, the preferred temperature would be higher at 107 degrees. The minerals that can be easily used at home for Balneotherapy are Epsom salt and Dead Sea salt. The recommended amount is 1-2 cups in a standard-sized bath. Soak for about 15 to 20 minutes to reap the benefits of this therapy. Making sure that you are soaked all the way up to the neck. After taking your bath, relax for 10-20 minutes, lie down or meditate for a while.

NB-If you have respiratory or heart problems, make sure to consult a doctor before opting for Balneotherapy.

Thalassotherapy– It was Frenchman Jacques de la Bonnardière, in 1865, who invented the concept of thalassotherapy, combining two Greek words, thalassa (sea) and therapies (therapia). The Greeks, have always been a seafaring people and they have always placed great faith in the healing powers of the sea and the marine environment. Due to the supernatural power attributed to the warm waters and their vapours, it’s not surprising how the first Thermal baths arose in Ancient times near the temples and natural hot springs. Some claims are made that Thalassotherapy was developed in France during the 19th century. I think that many of the techniques were used for centuries before this but were actually fine- honed in France at a later time.

The word spa comes from the Latin sanitus per aqua which translates as health through water and the curative qualities of seawater and the seaside climate have been used for therapeutic purposes since Roman times. Today, it’s a big business and there are countless seaside towns where visitors flock to be sprayed, floated, pummelled and hosed using a variety of water-based techniques. The marine air is filled with healing, refreshing negative ions. Modern science tells us that all life evolved out of the oceans, so the desire to take a healing, refreshing dip in the ocean can be seen as the desire to return to our Source.  The writings of Rene Quinton formed the foundation for the modern science of Thalassotherapy. French physicians started formulating treatment plans and therapeutic protocols in Thalassotherapy and constructing seaside Balneotherapy resorts where seawater was pumped in to large thermal treatment pools. The first rheumatism and depression treatment centre opened in Boulogne-Sur-Mer in 1800 but enthusiasm for Thalassotherapy only really took hold in 1822 with the opening of the first warm water spa in Dieppe, which would launch its fashionable beach resort. Which encouraged people to take a spa holiday.

 Some of the health problems that can be treated include eczema and psoriasis, joint problems, arthritis, poor circulation, immobility and post-operative conditions, which are treated with seawater baths and sea algae packs.  Thalassotherapy is also very beneficial against stress, fatigue and aging and other minor health complaints we all suffer from which can slowly sap our vitality and immunity.   The secret to seawater’s effectiveness lies in its trace minerals, which act as catalysts to activate the cellular enzymes.  Without these vital trace minerals, cellular activity gets sluggish, which adversely impacts all the major bodily functions. The nutrients from food ingested by a de-mineralized body can’t be properly absorbed, digested and metabolized.  So, our bodies can’t properly expel metabolic wastes and toxins.  Cellular sluggishness can produce a whole plethora of nasty symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, a slow metabolism, circulation problems and poor immunity, all of which can lead to more serious health ailments and diseases.  All of these conditions can be remedied by the healing effects of seawater and Thalassotherapy. Some of the standard procedures and treatments are algae poultices, algae hand and foot baths, hot seawater baths, ( Seaweed has incredible qualities and I will tell you more about these in my next blog post) underwater massage and jet Thermal Medicine.

The health benefits of the seaside and ocean can be experienced by simply spending a day near the coastline, it is certainly one of my favourite things to do, I always feel wonderful afterwards!

The Ancient Origins of Hydrotherapy

The beneficial properties of water have been well-known since ancient times for its healing and disease-protecting effects. When men discovered the importance of water as an essential element for human life, they built the first civilisations close by to the sea and rivers. Due to its importance, water was seen as magical and considered a gift of the divinity. Egyptians and Israelites used to plunge themselves in the sacral water of Niles and Jordan.  Hindus, enter the waters of the Ganges river for healing their soul and body.

Ancient Greeks knew the beneficial properties of sulphurous springs, especially for healing skin diseases and for relieving muscular and joint pain. The element of Water was thought to have an Expulsive Virtue which washed impurities and waste products from the body. The cleansing action of the water is enhanced by its surface tension, which further enables the water to be able to penetrate and draw out the impurities and toxins. In the Homeric poems and Hesiod, many references are made to the use of restorative baths. Plato said, “The sea cures all ailments of man.”  Euripides said, “The sea washes away all men’s illnesses.”  Plato, Hippocrates and Aristotle all recommended hot seawater baths.  Cato the Elder served his slaves a mixture of wine and seawater to restore their energy.

Hippocrates, the famous philosopher, was the father of Hydrotherapy. He was very interested in the therapeutic properties of various waters, which he saw were either rain- fed, as in lakes or marshes, or from subterranean aquifers, as in mineral springs that come bubbling out of the rocks.  He theorized that their differing curative properties came from their differing contents of various minerals like; iron, copper, silver, gold and sulfur. In his work “De is, a quiz at loci” he describes the chemical and organoleptic water features, and the effects of hot and cold baths on the human body. Hippocrates, proposed the hypothesis that all the human diseases started in an imbalance of the bodily fluids. To restore balance; changes of habits and environment were advised, including bathing, perspiration, walking, and massages.

Thermalism became the social form of Hydrotherapy. Following on from the Greeks, Romans considered bathing as a regular regimen for good health. Many Roman and Byzantine physicians like Herophilus, Erasistratus, Asclepiades and Orebasius studied the curative properties of mineral springs. Roman thermal baths became a social experience for everyone. Numerous baths, which they called Balnea, were constructed in Rome and conquered lands all over Europe, for both private and public use. Baths, were also built in private houses, often with special areas dedicated to sauna and massage.  Not only was this a good regimen for human health, thermalism became important for socialising, relaxation and working. The Roman Thermae also had a medicinal emphasis, and were largely used as recuperation centres for the wounded military soldiers, fatigued by wars, to treat their sore wounds and tired muscles through the natural spring waters.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, spas in Austria and Germany, became popular. The Water Cure, which was also called Taking the Waters, was a 19th century health reform movement that employed the therapeutic use of water to revitalize health and treat disease. In the 19th century, detailed chemical analyses of the mineral contents of various hot springs waters began. (Today, in many European countries the scientific study of therapeutic spa bathing, is a recognized subspecialty of medicine) The Water Cure was a combination of Hydrotherapy, which is therapeutic bathing, Balneothrepy, which is bathing in thermal springs and Thalassothreapy, which is ocean bathing.

In 1849, Father Sebastian Kneipp who became known as the Water Doctor, invented a system of naturopathy of natural therapeutics.  When taken seriously ill with pulmonary tuberculosis, he discovers a book by the physician Johann Sigmund Hahn, On the Healing Virtues of Cold Water, Inwardly and Outwardly Applied, which explained about the healing power of cold water. Fascinated by this information, Kneipp performed an experiment on himself in the cold Danube river. A bath that lasted only a few seconds and a brief run afterwards lead to a surprising positive result. He is invigorated afterwards and repeats the brief baths over the following days and supplements them with half-baths and affusions, the pouring on of water on the head, as in the rite of baptism. As a result, his state of health continually improves and his illness is gone. He began using Hydrotherapy to help some of his poorer parishioners. Kneipp, broadened his approach to include; medicinal herbs, exercise, a diet of low-protein and high fibre and adhering to the body’s natural biorhythms. He wrote My Water Cure in 1886 which was translated into several languages. Kneipp’s effective philosophy is grounded on the five basic principles of Water, Plants, Exercise, Nutrition and Balance. His five pillars remain so relevant today that his methods of aromatherapy and plant healing play an immense role in contributing to modern holistic healthcare and have influenced many other health programs and experts. The German UNESCO Committee have acknowledged his work as part of Germany’s cultural heritage. Today, the company of Kneipp continues its 125 years old heritage by providing natural body, bathing and skin products inspired by the lifelong naturopathic studies of the health pioneer Father Sebastian Kneipp.

The Belle Epoque period, late Victorian era to the Edwardian era, saw the emergence of Elitist Thermalism, throughout Europe and the Americas, Spas were on the rise. The new thermal centres were an integral part of gentile life, it was the beginning of Medical and Health Tourism. Health was not solely linked to the treatment of disease and ailments but also for well-being, luxury and social status.

To able to travel for their health like the nobility, was very much seen as a major aspiration for the wealthy classes, to be seen taking the waters whether afflicted by illness or not. The elite flocked in their masses to the European spas to socialize, fall in love, find creative inspiration, show- off the latest fashions, attend cultural events and meet famous people. I do hope that their health also benefited from the wonderful natural resources.

In my next blog post, I will go into more detail about the actual treatments. This is such a large subject it was becoming a bit too long like War and Peace!

The Dead Sea and The Wonderful Benefits of Dead Sea Salts

The Dead Sea is called Ya-Ha Melah (in Hebrew) which is literally, the “sea of salt. The Dead Sea is a landlocked salt- lake, the largest in the world, bordered by Jordan, Israel and the Palestine. Extraordinary climatic and environmental conditions make the Dead Sea a truly remarkable place, and its salt deposits are unlike anything else in the world. The water has 34.2% salinity, which is why people are able to float in the water. The Dead Sea has been an attraction for healing and wellness for thousands of years. That’s because the unique mineral composition of the water, mud, and atmospheric pressure have been shown to improve inflammatory conditions like psoriasis and arthritis. The low pollution and allergen levels of the Dead Sea depression region make it an ideal place to recover from ailments such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, and cystic fibrosis. Dead Sea water is a wonderful treatment for dry skin conditions, nourishing the skin and replenishes much-needed moisture.

Jenna Rosenstein,the beauty director of Harper’s Bazaar, fashion magazine, visited the Dead Sea and below are some of her observations:

The water was so warm that it verged on hot. I kept walking until it reached my torso, and then I leaned back and splashed into the sea. I submerged only for a second before popping back up on the surface, like a human rubber duckie.

I’ve tried nearly every facial and skincare product that promises luminous, even skin—nothing compares to a dip in the Dead Sea. And if you can’t fly out there anytime soon, at least pick up a packet (or ten) of Dead Sea bath salts. In this golden age of wellness and self-care, a little salt water might be all you need.

 Using Dead salts has been documented from as far back as biblical times. King Solomon presented the Queen of Sheba with a gift of Dead Sea Salts when she was visiting the Holy Lands. Queen Cleopatra, attributed her great beauty to the secrets of the sea and its salts. She had Marc Anthony conquer the regions surrounding the Dead Sea, so she would always have access to a bountiful supply. Some records state that she established cosmetic clinics to offer salt treatments to her guests, but I found many versions of the facts on this, so I am not sure if that is true.

The area around the Dead Sea has always had an association with mythical worlds. Dead Sea Salts are favoured by Spiritual Healers as it is reported to remove all negative energies which we all pick up on our daily travels. These negative energies attach themselves to our Aura, resulting in a negative impact of our mood, mental state and sometimes physical wellbeing. There are many Spiritual Baths which use Dead Sea Salt, Herbs, and oils that people use to uncross negative conditions. Dead Sea salts can also be added to floor washes to remove negative energies from the home and sprinkling Dead Sea salt outside of the home has the same effect. Tradition has it that placing salt in the four corners of a room keeps negative spirits at bay and purifies the room.

There are over 20 different minerals found in Dead Sea salt aside from sodium chloride, the main constituent of sea salt, including magnesium, calcium, sulphur, bromide, iodine, zinc and potassium. It is these minerals that are the reason behind the wonderful healing and therapeutic qualities of the salt. It contains 10 x the minerals of other natural sea salts. It’s not processed or only had minimal processing, since it comes directly through the evaporation of seawater so it keeps its trace elements.

The many minerals have different properties but the key ones are below:

Sulphur– decongests and is anti- bacterial

Calcium– promotes skin growth and regeneration

Sodium– cleanses and exfoliates, revives sore muscles and neutralizes free radicals

Zinc and Potassium– work to promote moisture retention, keeping the skin, plump and hydrated

Magnesium– detoxifies and cleanses the epidermis

Bromide – helps relieve allergic reactions of the skin by reducing inflammation

Iron– stimulating circulation

These essential minerals naturally occur in our bodies but must be replenished, as they are lost throughout the day and are known to treat, detoxify, and cleanse our bodies.

So, if your nightly baths need an extra boost add a touch of salts as these are very absorbent, they mix well with essential oils giving even more health benefits. Dead Sea salt baths are known for their ability to ease stress, boost your overall health and promote better sleep. Putting them in a hot bath can have the same results as low- level exercise. Stretching and moving in the water can also provide a low impact workout for pains in the muscles and joints. If you are unable to have a full bath Dead Sea salts work really well in a footbath. Soothing achy, overworked legs and feet and reducing swelling.

 Research has proven that soaking regularly in water enriched with Dead Sea salt can provide relief from many unpleasant skin disorders. Problem areas can also be exfoliated using Dead Sea Salts as the grainy texture helps to detoxify and shifts blemishes whilst stimulating the blood flow.

Warm water and Dead Sea salt are generally safe for most people. However, there are some precautions to consider before you take a soak in the bath. It is important not to be use them, if you have had an allergic reaction, have an open cut or wound, as the salt can cause stinging sensations.

In the 1960’s, Habitat in the Kings Road started selling Dead Sea salts as an ozone- rich bath treatments giving the same feelings of well- being attached to the seaside. In 2020, I would agree that Dead Sea Salts still have all the wonderful healing aspects of the sea and are a lovely addition to any bath.