by Blake Herzog
Mud may be a dirty and dangerous substance in some contexts, but its richness and texture have also captured the imagination of healers as far back as ancient Greece, Mexico and Egypt.
For centuries mud baths have been used to treat such skin conditions as eczema and psoriasis, joint pain from arthritis and other conditions, musculoskeletal disorders and to draw toxins out from the body.
Today, the limited amount of scientific research that’s been done has not been able to verify all these claims, but in most cases mud baths are a safe and hygienic spa treatment that leaves clients feeling pampered and rejuvenated.
There are plenty of good reasons to treat yourself to a luxurious dip in the mud, including:
Reputable spas don’t use just any old kind of mud when drawing a mud bath; it’s a mixture of volcanic ash, organic peat and warmed mineral water, ideally from hot springs located on the property or nearby, as it is in the mud mecca of Calistoga, California.
The ash gives the mixture buoyancy so the client isn’t weighed down as many people fear they would be, instead floating on top until the attendant wraps the mud around the body. The experience is often compared to being wrapped in a thick, warm blanket, and most find it an immensely calming 10 to 20 minutes.
The mud soak itself is followed by at least a shower and usually a massage and other treatments, so the complete experience lasts at least two or three hours.
We’re not just talking about mental and emotional stress, which can often be alleviated by relaxation, but stress on the body, too.
The weightlessness relieves any pressure on your joints and tendons and bones, allowing clients to be free of the pain and pressure they may feel on solid ground. This may be the source of anecdotal evidence of mud’s effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis and other painful conditions.
Others hypothesize the mineral content of the water used to make the mud reduces inflammation within the body that can cause these and many other ills.
Many who try mud baths report an immediate impact on their skin’s condition, with it feeling smoother and looking plumper after floating in the intense moisture of a muddy bathtub. Some report an invigorating, tingling sensation that can last for days, and others see improvement in conditions like eczema and rosacea.
The mud also is an exfoliate that can gently help you remove the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal the radiant new one underneath. Many people attribute this to the magnesium, zinc, sulfur, bromine and other minerals that may help draw toxins out from the skin.
Don’t get bogged down
Mud baths are not recommended for those who are pregnant or have a heart condition, high or low blood pressure, open cuts or rashes on the skin (including those caused by psoriasis or other skin disorders), have consumed excess alcohol or are sensitive to heat.