Could Thalassotherapy Be The Saltwater Treatment Your Body Needs? Here's What We Know

There's something about the sea that our brains love. The subtle ripples of the open water and the mesmerizing aquatic hue can easily lull us into a state of absolute calm and peace. A good dose of vitamin C can also do wonders for the physical body. 

According to a 2016 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, deep seawater is packed with minerals and substances that help lower cholesterol levels in the liver and serum, and prevent the inflammation of the arterial wall from accumulation of fats and cholesterols (atherosclerosis). While sea swimming is probably the best way to soak up all the benefits of ocean water, not all of us can afford to hit the beach often. But fortunately, there's a treatment that can bring the ocean to us, allowing us to tap into the healing components of seawater in the comfort of a seaside spa or wellness clinic. It's called thalassotherapy. 

Thalassotherapy, also known as saltwater therapy, is derived from the Greek word "thalassa" which means "sea." According to Explore France, the concept of thalassotherapy was developed in the 19th century by a Frenchman named Jacques de la Bonnardière, who promoted the idea of using seawater as a form of bodily and mental therapy. Today, thalassotherapy is a popular alternative therapy in Europe. If you're looking for a spa treatment that rejuvenates your body from the inside out, look no further than thalassotherapy.

What is the thalassotherapy treatment?

Thalassotherapy is basically a therapy that involves engaging in activities or using products that involve seawater. Seawater is a rich source of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium chloride, per Fluidra. These are absorbed by the skin and release healing effects to the body. 

Thalassotherapy may involve a variety of practices, such as consuming supplements made from seawater (i.e. marine plasma) or applying marine items to the body (such as algae), or taking a seawater bath or swimming in a saltwater pool. Moving into a coastal home and spending time in a maritime climate is also an act of thalassotherapy.

If you have a thalassotherapy bath in a spa, your therapy session typically involves a 10 to 15-minute soak in a tub filled with slightly heated seawater (via Good Spa Guide). This helps to loosen your stiff joints, reduce swelling, and soothe your mind. A thalassotherapy wrap is also many people's favorite spa treatment. In this treatment, your body will be massaged, exfoliated and wrapped with marine materials like seaweed and algae. 

Thalassotherapy is good for your skin health

The high concentration of minerals in seawater can aid in repairing and renewing the skin, according to Dermatim. It is also useful in the treatment of infections and wounds, in reducing inflammation and treating acne breakouts. Seawater is also a wonderful treatment for chronic skin diseases like eczema

Swimming in saltwater, WebMD explains, can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis by removing dead skin cells from your skin. A sea salt bath also provides relief for your flare-ups and reduces the roughness of your skin texture. However, remember to take a thorough shower and lather up with moisturizer after saltwater exposure to prevent skin irritation.   

Seaweed, a rich and popular source of seawater, is also helpful because it is a type of algae, which means it "hydrates, softens and detoxifies the skin," founder of natural British brand Haeckels Dom Bridges told Refinery29

Thalassotherapy can curtail stroke risks and help with fibromyalgia

Engaging in aquatic exercises in saltwater in a seaside environment can also help alleviate the risks of stroke. According to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, aquatic therapy and thalassotherapy can improve the mobility and balance of people who have suffered a stroke in the past, reducing their sensitivity to pain and enhancing their sense of well-being. 

Those who suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic disorder that causes soreness and fatigue throughout the body, can also benefit from thalassotherapy. Some common symptoms of fibromyalgia include stiff joints, tenderness, sleeping issues, and poor memory and concentration. A 2005 study published in Rheumatology involving 170 patients found that a combination of thalassotherapy, physical activity, and patient education can significantly reduce fibromyalgia symptoms after three to six months.

It's hard not to love the beach when the sea offers so many benefits for our overall well-being. Although there is no scientific evidence that thalassotherapy can effectively treat any particular disease on its own, it makes an ideal alternative treatment for symptom relief and increased quality of life.