Interactive Health Service Clinic
It has been noted for many years that there are certain, proven, health benefits to bathing in the sea. We look at the history, the benefits and the evidence.
Sea bathing has become one of the most popular pastimes of our age. In the warm summer months millions of people flock to the seaside to bathe, relax and to enjoy spending time with family or friends. There is more to sea bathing than fun; let us learn about the health aspect of sea bathing.
William Buchan wrote in 1701, in his book 'Domestic Medicine', that he advocated the practice of sea bathing as it was thought to have medicinal benefits. Indeed, this idea soon spread, with the introduction of bathing machines at various resorts around the coast.
In 1753, Dr Charles Russel published a paper entitled "The Uses of Sea Water", which recommended the use of sea water for healing various diseases. This had the effect of drawing people to the coast in droves and the opening of Marine hospitals in parts of France and England, which were very popular for all kinds of health disorders. In earlier times, both the Greeks and the Romans had recognised the therapeutic effects of sea water. Until the early 1800's, few people considered bathing in the sea for any other than therapeutic purposes.
Although the practice of sea water bathing no longer attracts the 'cure all' mentality, there is no doubt that it does have certain benefits, with an example being the Dead Sea salt water. With its restorative properties, it is recommended as being a possible benefit for the skin of those suffering from psoriasis .For those who cannot actually visit the Dead Sea, they can at least benefit from the salt as it is widely available to purchase as bath salts or in the form of body lotions and creams.
The passion for the benefits of sea water has been maintained - although to a lesser degree - in the last few years. However, there is evidence that sea water bathing is enjoying a revival and the word Thalassotherapy (the use of sea water in health restoration and maintenance), is being increasingly used by people who subscribe to holistic and complementary therapies. In present day spas and resorts the sea is used and is said to reduce tension and stress, detoxify the skin and improve circulation, speed weight loss and cellulite control and even ease menopausal discomfort.
We do know that sea water has a beneficial effect on the following disorders; Dermatitis, fungal infections, such as athlete's foot, psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo.
Looking at the reasons for these beliefs, it is easy to see why the idea would capture the imagination of the public.
The ocean contains all the vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, and amino acids (which is, by the way, a really good reason for using sea salt in our diet, as opposed to 'table' salt). Sea water is bacteriostatic and the cleansing and healing properties of saline have been recognised for many years.
Naturopaths believe that bathing in sea water acts directly on chronic health disorders. They believe that cool sea water calms down overwrought nerves, tranquillising the whole body, but at the same time toning it up and making it more resilient. By the same token, they believe that warm sea water, during the summer months improves circulation and relaxes muscles. The high salt content also provides natural buoyancy, which also helps with relaxation.
It is also considered that the magnesium content of sea water is sufficiently strong to have a nutritional and calming effect on our nerves, which would explain why we find sea water bathing so relaxing.
It is easy to see why it would be thought that the motion of the waves in the sea help to massage the body and assist in the removal of toxins. It is also obvious, by the number of people who head immediately for the water on arrival at the coast, that the feel-good factor is still as much in evidence today, as it was all those years ago when it was first written about.