Ever wonder why you feel so much better after visiting the ocean or swimming at the beach? There may be something quantifiable about it and not just that good vacation feeling.
Thalassotherapy is an alternative therapy harnessing the soothing properties of the sea. The term comes from the Greek word “thalassa,” which means ocean.
Although actual thalassotherapy dates back to the 19th century, the healing properties of the sea have been known for ages. It is a common alternative therapy in Europe, particularly in Germany and France.
Some colleges of medicine in Europe even include thalassotherapy.
The healing benefits have caused people to move closer to beach towns for their health and spas and hospitals to set up shop using seawater therapies.
When a person’s skin comes in contact with seawater, the sodium and chloride penetrates and enters the body. From there, it affects skin cells by altering the pressure inside them, which in turn may inhibit cell death.
Climatotherapy involves temporarily or permanently relocating to a certain climate to improve health. It is also a form of thalassotherapy. In a 2013 study on people who had moved near the ocean to treat psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, participants reported marked improvement at various intervals.
Air near the sea also tends to be cleaner than in cities. This is why some people with asthma or hay fever can breathe more easily by the ocean.
Today, thalassotherapy takes different forms and can involve simply breathing in the sea air, bathing, exercising, massages, applying products with sea mud and seaweed or taking supplements derived from sea products.
Similar to balneotherapy, which involves mineral spring waters, thalassotherapy exclusively uses seawater.
Proponents claim it is beneficial because seawater is high in a number of minerals like sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iodine.
A 2020 study investigated the effects of aquatic therapy in a seawater pool and found that participants saw improvement in pain, balance, mobility and fibromyalgia.
Older research used a combination of thalassotherapy, exercise and patient education. These participants saw improvements in pain, lethargy and mental health.
And it’s always a given that spending time near the sea is calming, listening to the waves is soothing and walking along the beach is therapeutic in many ways. But now you have even more reason to get to the beach.
If you want to stay a bit close to home, Ancient Sea Healing Spa offers thalassotherapy treatments in Cottonwood, just outside of Sedona. www.ancientsea.com