Apart from the rare landscapes and special natural beauties, nature also endowed Greece with important therapeutic properties. Bath spas are part of the country’s national wealth, while their therapeutic properties were already known in ancient times.
Natural mineral resources are scattered all over the country; while the water of these differs from common water, either due to the high temperature or to the presence of rare drastic components. The water of these is marked as mineral water, because of the temperature or the general chemical composition. Apart from cold mineral, there are also hot and these are the ones used in therapeutic treatment: bath spa hydrotherapy (thermalism).
The geographic allocation of the springs is not accidental as it is connected either with tectonic events, as is the case for example of Kaifa, Kyllini and Langada, or with volcanic activities, as in the case of Methana, Milos, Lesbos, Samothrace, and Limnos.
HISTORY OF THERMALISM IN GREECE
The history of thermal is from ancient Greece. The first observer of those with therapeutic properties was the historian Herodotus (484-410 b.c.). He described some spas and suggested, playing the role of doctor, health cures take place in certain seasons and for 21 consecutive days.
Hippocrates of Kos (460-375 B.C.) who is considered to be the instigator of medical science and father of hydrotherapy, dealt with the various natural waters, found in marshes and ponds, formed by the rain and into those that emerge from metallic rocks. These are warm, containing iron, copper, silver, gold, sulfur and other metal elements.
Apart from various well-known references in the Bible, during the Roman era and the Byzantine times many doctors dealt with hydrotherapy and Thermalism health cures. Such were the Herophilos, Erasistratos, Asklipiadis, Agathinos, Galen, Oreibasios, Paul the Aiginitis etc.
All of these doctors agreed with the thermalism effect of natural springs. A student of Agathinou, wrote, in the 1st Century ad., about the therapeutic properties of hot sources and said that it is not possible to determine precisely the way each of the sources separately, develop their therapeutic properties, because they require long-term observations and experiments. That continues today.
The Roman baths are known throughout Europe as examples of architecture. Thermalism health cures find more widespread application in two centuries. In many countries of Europe (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) new therapeutic baths were built which replaced the old Roman Albano. After the 2nd World War improvements were made even in new institutions which operated in line with modern medical views on the value of the Spa for bathing.
Chemical analyses of water sources began in free Greece when Kapodistrias arrived.
The official organization of the spas happened at the beginning of 20ty century. In 1918 a special service has set up for the first time in the hot sources from Ministry of the economy.
What is the water of natural springs?
The waters of natural water springs or whirlpools is emanate through rocks that come out of the Earth’s core.
Are mineral waters containing dissolved mineral ingredients-such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, radium, phosphorus and sulphur-or gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen. The waters are not equal degree of acidity and there are acid or alkaline, or neutral. The temperatures vary but have an average of 60ο C. There are springs that may contain a higher level of one or two substances and others that may contain a lower level.
NATURAL THERMAL SRINGS IN GREECE
The Greece is one of the richest countries in natural resources. Source waters are in our country from 752 different geographical points. Most sources are located on islands, 229, mainland Greece with 156 sources, Macedonia with 115, Peloponnese with 114, Thessaly with 57, Epirus with 56 and Thrace with 25.
Of these thermal spas officially operate as thermal towns 80. Some of them are privately owned and some owned by municipalities.
The rest does not work because they have deficiencies in infrastructure.
MEDICAL HYDROLOGY- SPA THERAPY
The treatment of various diseases and particularly rheumatic disease is achieved with medication and physiotherapy. In some severe forms surgical orthopedics surgery is needed or even a combination of all three basic forms of therapy as the case may be.
Hydrotherapy is a part of physiotherapy and is a well-organized form of treatment. Hydrotherapy under the general concept is: SPA THERAPY or MEDICAL HYDROLOGY and includes the following forms:
Hydrotherapy is particularly important for the treatment of multiple affections such as arthritis and rheumatic diseases, and falls into two categories:
Internal therapy, which includes:
- Consumable therapy (drinking of natural mineral waters),
- Inhalation therapy (inhalation of fumes or droplets of mineral water)
- Rinse therapy (oral, nasal, gynecological)
External therapy, which includes:
- Baths, jet showers (the body is hit by thermal mineral water under high or low pressure for a specific period of time),
- Hydromassaging. (the pressure of the water massages the body),
- Hydrokinesotherapy. (combination of balneotherapy and kinesotherapy for the period of time the body is inside the water)
- Mudtherapy. (Application of mud, which has “ripened”, on those parts of the body that suffers from various disorders).
The health cures commonly based on the following main springs water attributes:
In thermal stimulus
In mechanical stimulus.
In the effect of natural-chemical constituents of that spring water includes
The Thermal Stimulus is important in health cures and constitutes an essential form of thermotherapy. For a thermal stimulus the temperature of water should be greater than 34o C.
The Thermal agent acts in several ways. These are: the dimension of the blood vessels, hyperemia, local perspiration, muscle relaxation improving metabolism and analgesia. At temperatures between 38 and 40 ° c. muscles are heated, their resistance is decreased and after relaxation, pain is relieve and movements are facilitated.
With regard to mechanical factors, the effect of laws based on the Archimedes theory referred to in the hydrostatic pressure. In water the body becomes lighter, movements become easier, the muscles relax, absorb the bumps and inflammations and have a positive effect on psyche.
A very important component of the thermal water is the element sulfur in the form of sulphate radicals.
These sulfate radicals entering through the skin into the body and enrich the contents of joints, bone marrow and blood.
In our body there are a lot of trace elements that help chemical reaction and involved in protein production. These trace elements are found in many springs waters. One of these is radon, which has the ability to penetrate the body through inhalation, through thermal baths and mud baths
The mineral hot springs have redox properties, and scientists believe it is important in the balancing of physical equilibrium.
The therapeutic effect of the chemical factors of mineral water, knowledge which has come from ancient times, is now given a scientific basis.
The effect of mineral water based on the three factors: chemical, thermal and mechanical in reaction to rheumatic diseases is thus pain relief, inflammatory reduction, improvement of joint movement and flexibility.
Mineral water, depending on its chemical components, can have diuretic and cleansing properties such as bronchial dilation. Thus, as a result it can be used as a consumable therapy and inhalation therapy.
GENERAL ROULES OF THERMALISM
From the above properties of thermalism we understand that curative treatment in spas is not a simple case.
We follow strict rules of application and only the doctor must give the approval.
The general rules are:
- Before the start of treatment we must examine the existence of other diseases so that treatment can be modified.
- We studied the rheumatic diseases and as will be determined by the duration, temperature, type of treatment ( bathroom, showers, hydromassaging, steam, mudhydrokinesotherapy) and the area of application ( neck, waist, shoulder , Hand, hip, knee, etc.)
- The doctor examines whether the patient who is following the treatment should be stopped.
- There is monitoring of treatment in the middle and at the end. In the end, the doctor will give advice on treatment outcomes.
- Depending on the type of treatment, it can last for a few minutes to an hour.
The beneficial effect usually comes a few weeks after the end of the Thermal spa but often during the treatment. Physiotherapy can be added during treatment.
At the end of the treatment, the doctor gives a general estimation of the patient’s physical condition and progress.
THERAPEUTIC INDICATION OF THERMALISM
They are a large number of diseases in which can be used thermal treatment.
Some of them are:
- 1. Indications of external therapy
- Rheumatic diseases
- Diseases of the circulatory system
- Skin Diseases
- Syndromes of neurovascular disorders of the system
- Peripheral Nerve Diseases
- Gynecological disorders
- 2. Indications of internal therapy
- Diseases of nutrition and urinary system
- Diseases of the liver and bile ducts
- Diseases of the digestive system
- Some heart diseases
- 3. Indications of inhalation therapy
- Respiratory Diseases
- Chronic pulmonary emphysema
- Chronic rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis
CONTRAINDICATIONS OF THERMAL TREATMENT
- 1. In external therapy
- Hemorrhage of cerebral
- Insufficiency of Coronary
- Hemorrhages of various organs
- Severe forms of diabetes
- After the sixth month of pregnancy
- Malignant neoplasms
- Active tuberculosis
- 2. In internal therapy
- Calculus of kidney or Bladder with frequent seizures or hematuria or solid stones, nephritis.
- Gallstone colic with frequent or large stones, cholokystitis in the acute phase, a recent ulcer of the stomach or duodenum.
- 3. In inhalation therapy
- Diseases of the respiratory system in acute phase
The most frequent use of the Thermal balneotherapy is in rheumatic diseases.
Rheumatic diseases are now considered one of the biggest social wounds. There are in first rate in the word and compete with mental illness. From economically and socially is a big problem for every country.
They cause premature disability and high health care costs.
When the objectivity of a country is its heathland productivity, thus disease creates an increased economical strain with similar outcomes. It causes a decrease in work strengths, an increase in disability and in medical, pharmaceutical and hospital care.
Signs of improvement of the disease appear after curative treatment for many cases of disease such as gout, degenerative joint disease, the ankylosing spondylitis, back pain and sciatica.
For each form of them, the doctor recommends a kind of or a combination spa.
But apart from the healing properties of the spa, removal from the daily routine for three weeks rest and can also bring peace of mind.
Daily medical care, staying in a mild climate, social interactions and various culture events contribute to the elimination of stress and help in faster improvement of the disease.
USE OF WATER MAIN IN SERVICE GREEK SPAS
The thermal spa in spite of the progress of medicine has its value as long as the chemical, mechanical and thermal elements are properly used.
Depending on the condition a method or combination a method or combination of methods (baths, inhalation stream, mud etc.) is selected by the medical staff.
It does not offer a complete cure but reduces pain and improves the overall condition of the patient. It is also a kind of vacation with all the benefits that involve metal health patients.
The state should utilize this alternative tourism that wills five great impetuses to economic growth.
THERMAL WATER IN COSMETICS
Thermal water is being increasingly used in recent years to replace all or part of the water in the recipes of cosmetic products.
In Greece, from antiquity, but until recently, people bathe in the waters of hot springs to beautify but also to maintain their health. There are many references to the Greek tradition of the strength of the thermal water.
The salts and the minerals contained in thermal waters are ideal for skin care and all that was known from ancient times.
Today, the role of the thermal water is being, not only in medicine but also in cosmetics. In France, at least four companies have produced a series of cosmetic products under the name of the source from which they derive their water. But the trend is spreading to other countries and is becoming fashionable. It is therefore simply a new fashion? Or a reality?
No. The investigations made show that there are certain advantages to using the thermal water in the skin.
These properties find application in cosmetics and dermatological products in hydration, the treatment of oily skin and acne, treatment of atopic dermatitis in children and adults such as eczema, psoriasis, burns, healing problems and skin sensitivity.
Water is the most important ingredient in cosmetic products which can be contained at rates up to 100%. In a comparative study of various water and clinical research on the effect of water on the skin showing the properties and confirming the experience of centuries. Thermal waters have a future in cosmetic. We must look to this future in our country in dozens of hot springs, tracing the rail of civilization through thousands of year and using the tools of modern science.
ΙΑΜΑΤΙΚΗ ΛΟΥΤΡΟΘΕΡΑΠΕΙΑ – ΙΑΤΡΙΚΕΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΣΕΙΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΦΑΡΜΟΓΕΣ
Διδάκτωρ Ιατρικής Πανεπιστημίου Μονάχου
Ιατρός Ρευματολογικής Κλινικής Ασκληπιείου Βούλας