Hot Springs and Mineral Springs Spas offer an on-site source of natural mineral, thermal or seawater used in hydrotherapy treatments. The resulting benefits are the backbone of “balneotherapy”, defined as “the branch of medical science concerned with the therapeutic value of baths, especially those taken with natural mineral waters”.
Balneotherapy as a field of study is truly ancient and has been an accepted part of education in medical schools worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. The practice has thrived most in regions where ample water sources exist.
What’s the difference between Hydrotherapy and Balneotherapy? Simply defined, balneotherapy is considered a more-inclusive science of medicinally beneficial modalities which, while overlapping with hydrotherapy, includes the broader use use of mineral waters in drinking, bathing, soaking, treatments — including mineral water rich muds and sands for body wraps and scrubs — beyond recreational use.
We’ve selected a few of our favorite places to soak up the waters, both destinations for the simple pleasure of a mineral water hydrotherapy soak, as well as more advanced therapeutic waters used for balneotherapy. Among our favorites is a grand, landscaped pool filled with mineral waters in a resort setting in Tuscany, another is a visually stunning and almost mystical experience in the blue lagoon of Iceland, while another, Kanaguya Onsen in Japan, is believed to be the inspiration for Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away” bathhouse.