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Hot Baths & Saunas Can Relieve Pain – Part 1

Hot Baths & Saunas Can Relieve Pain – Part 1

You’ve likely heard the expression ‘taking the waters’. It refers to a centuries old practice that many people – especially those getting on in years – resorted to as a way to cure certain ailments and cope with pain.


You don’t need to go to a fancy spa – although in Canada, particularly out west, we have plenty of them – to take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of a long hot bath and a sauna. Let’s face it, you’ve got one in your home and – quite likely – the other is close by at your local fitness club or the Y.

A Case in Point

Recently, we ran across a fascinating report by Amy Chillag on CNN's Staying Well, and we think it makes insightful reading.

Ms. Chillag referenced a gentleman of 57 – a former amateur athlete – who had gone through several back surgeries, a ruptured disc and a condition called arachnoiditis – a desperately painful inflammatory condition. According to Ms. Chillag:

Scar tissue pressed on his nerves, causing constant pain. Doctors prescribed heavy-duty painkillers, including OxyContin and Tramadol, along with anti-anxiety pills. He took them for years – a total of 14 doses of pills a day. The drugs took away only some of the pain. Most of the time, [the gentleman] just lay in bed because, despite the pills, it was too painful to do anything else.

Then he started going to a thermal hot springs spa three times a week and the results were almost immediate. “The hot water makes me just feel so much better that it seems like all my troubles go away,” the gentleman was reported as saying, his wife at his side. “Those nerves become relaxed in such a way that I can be out of pain for six or eight hours.”

Yeah, we hear you say. But I don't have access to a thermal hot springs spa. Actually, you do. It’s right in your bathroom.

Jump in the Tub

A friend of ours is a Fort Lauderdale-based massage therapist by the name of Robert Brush and he contends – and we agree with him because we’ve tried it – that a bathtub (preferably a roomy one) filled with water at between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit with a generous helping of Epsom salt (not a sprinkling; a couple or three large coffee mugs worth) can come pretty close to replicating the conditions of a natural thermal spa.

According to the Epsom Salt Council:

Epsom salt is made of naturally occurring minerals magnesium and sulfate, ingredients which can help improve health in numerous ways. A lack of magnesium—which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body—can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues. Sulfate is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and helping form proteins in joints and brain tissue.

To Be Continued…

In part 2 of Hot Baths & Saunas Can Relieve Pain, we’ll discuss in more detail the therapeutic benefits of Epsom salt. Stay tuned!