Mud is a common form of treatments in spas, especially when it comes to facial masks, body wraps and mud baths. The usage of mud in therapy is called pelotherapy and it comes from the Greek word for mud – pelos. Even though a lot of people don’t know it, mud therapy has been around for quite a long time. In fact, the Greek physician Galen wrote about mud treatments for rheumatism and arthritis almost two thousand years ago!
Does this mean you can just go to your back yard and start working on your own mud therapy system? Absolutely not. Depending on where the mud comes from, its mineral composition will vary wildly and as such, the muds used at spas were carefully chosen because of their therapeutic properties. When it comes to these muds, they increase circulation to the skin, help with exfoliating, help with drawing out natural waste products out of the body and serve as a rich source of trace elements and minerals. This mud can also be combined with geothermal waters or mineral springs to further boost its already notable potency for the treatment.
Types Of Therapeutic Mud
Even though therapeutic mud can come from a vast variety of different places such as volcanic mountains, peat bogs, coastal rivers and inland lakes, there some types of mud that are among the most used types when it comes to spa treatments.
Hot Springs Mud is a type of mud that comes from areas where natural thermal hot springs can be found. The earth there has a very high mineral content, which is further increased when combined with the mineral water. This mud is used in mud wraps or baths in order to replenish the body while at the same time drawing out waste products and helping relieve muscle pains and aches.
Over at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs in Napa Valley, you can find mud baths where the mineral rich volcanic ash is combined with the local mineral spring water and peat moss. The guests then climb into concrete pools of earth where they lie suspended all the way up to their neck, though this may not be the best choice for a person suffering from claustrophobia. The experience is even nicer when combined with spending some time in the steam baths, natural mineral pools and enjoying a deep tissue, sports or a Swedish massage. You can find this spa resort in downtown Calistoga. The hotel and spa feature 56 rooms and have been completely redesigned in 2013.
Another place famous for fangotherapy, a term that comes from the Italian word for mud – fango, is Italy itself and it is one of the best places in the world to visit if you seek this type of experience. Probably the best place to visit is at L+Albergo della Regina Isabella, which is a luxury thermal spa on the island of Ischia. They create their own therapeutic mud using a complex right next to the hotel. They do this by mixing the island’s geothermal water with volcanic soil, which is then allowed to sit for six months in order to allow beneficial algae to grow which, in turn, enriches the mud.
Each morning the hotel staff will bring over a fresh batch of mud to the spa where the therapists will use an entire bucket of this fantastic, warm mud in the heavenly fango treatment. It is also recommended to undergo at least six treatments, though it is suggested to go for twice that. L’Albergo della Regina Isabella as well as other spas all over Europe also use mud packs on certain parts of the body such as knees, back, shoulders or hips in order to relieve pain and inflammation. The fango therapy and thermal water baths you can enjoy at the hotel are true therapeutic treatments and they require a prescription from the on site doctor.
The banks of the Dead Sea is where Dead Sea Mud is harvested. It is an inland salt lake bordering Joran to the east and the West Bank and Israel to the west. The mud is extremely black and, in fact, it is alluvial silt that is washed down from the mountains that surround the Dead Sea. The silt is then deposited to the shores of this extremely salty lake. As layers upon layers are deposited on top of each other over thousands of years, it has created a rich black mud that contains high levels of calcium, boron, strontium, iron and potassium. The spas you can find there are top of the line: detailed sandstone temples that feature indoor-outdoor hot tubs, incredible mud wraps as well as saltwater pools.
In fact, you can make your own Dead Sea mud body mask at your own home using the packed Ahava mud that sells for about $16. Something to keep in mind is the fact that products made for the commercial market have chemical preservatives in them in order to keep them from spoiling.
Moor Mud is actually thousands of types of grasses, flowers and herbs, with over three hundred of them having medicinal properties, that have decomposed into bogs over a period of 20 to 30 thousand years. Compared to other types of mud, Moor Mud has very little clay, and is technically peat moss with trace elements, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, phyto-hormones and vitamins. It is well known for its anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and anti-aging effects. It also helps the body maintain its natural mineral balance. Moor Mud is used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis as well as dealing with arthritis and sports injuries.
One of the great things about Moor Mud is the fact that it doesn’t need any preservatives as it can’t be spoiled. This means you can give yourself a Moor Mud bath and body treatments at home without having to be worries about PEGs or Parabens. It is also recommended to undergo a series of treatments in order to detox.
Clays are composed of very fine particles of certain rocks that contain a large amount of aluminium silicate and are often used for facial masks. A clay mask will help draw oils and dirt to the surface of the skin as well as stimulate circulation, soften the skin and temporarily contract the pores of the skin. Depending on the type of clay it can include bentinite, kaolin as well as French green clay.
Sometimes these clays can be combined with some other substances in order to create a mud that can be used for body wraps. For example, some spas, especially those in the southwest, tend to use a commercial product that will combine Sedona’s red clay earth with kaolin, sea salts, bentonite, laminar, preservatives and essential oils.
I am always extremely careful about what I put on my skin, which is why I always recommend people to ask the spa about the products they use as well as check the ingredients of these products online. You need to make sure you see every single ingredient and not just the active ones. If their products use synthetic ingredients such as PEG-100 stearate, parabens and dimethicome, avoid them and just get the massage instead. After that start saving up and visit one of those incredible spa destinations that make their own fresh mud every single day.