Whenever the expression "vital organs" is used, many would immediately name the heart, or maybe the lungs, possibly the liver -- but the one that rarely comes to mind is the largest of them all: the skin.
And exactly what would humans do without their skin? It is what holds the body together, what keeps the other organs in place. But just think of all the different ways people abuse their skin and sometimes in ways they never realize. Skin is exposed to pollution, to chemicals in various household products, to the damaging rays of the sun, to chlorinated water; not to mention what a toll it takes during sports or rigorous activity. Plus, a poor diet and not enough water can really wreak havoc on the skin. With all this neglect the skin may turn rebellious; it cracks, gets itchy, chapped, and the skin on the face may even take on the texture of foreign objects, like crepe paper. Yuck.
So what can be done about it? Treat it special. Remember that it wants attention too.
It has been shown that various minerals are good for the body. Magnesium, calcium and the like are ones that are usually ingested either through food or pill form, but minerals absorbed through the skin are beneficial too. There are a variety of ways to help the skin with minerals and thankfully many of them are therapeutic and relaxing.
Some of the most popular choices are: mud baths, mineral baths
and soaking in hot springs (though with this option the smell of sulfur may
be unpleasant). By far the most well-known source for mud and salts is the Dead
Sea. Even famous historical figures, such as King Herod and Cleopatra, are said
to have soaked and pampered themselves with products of the Dead Sea. Proponents
say that it is the richest source of minerals and microelements found in any
body of water or mud. Evidence used to back up this claim revolves around the
location of the Dead Sea and the types of rock that characterize the area, which
come from three different periods: the pre-Cambrian, the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic.
It is believed that the vast variety of rocks helped contribute to the uniqueness
of the mineral composition in the mud and water, while thousands of years of
thermo-mineral springs under constant heat caused the water to dry out allowing
the minerals to sink and accumulate. This is why the salt concentration in the
Dead Sea is 10 times higher than that of other seas or oceans and also why the
salt composition includes not just sodium, but also magnesium, potassium, calcium
chloride and bromides. These minerals may help with a range of problems, including:
fluid retention, energizing the body, easing muscle stiffness, fighting off
stress and much more. That may be why so many companies -- such as Ahava --
use the mineral rich salts in their skin products.
Which is not to say Dead Sea products are the only way to go, especially if a mud bath is your mineral soak of choice. The Dead Sea mud products on the market are usually sold in individual packets to be applied directly on the skin and few would be able to afford filling a tub with them, much less want to clean up afterwards. But dont worry, many spas around the globe offer mineral rich mud baths, either cultivated by the spas themselves or through other means.
And if a more natural -- and cleaner -- setting is preferred, there are numerous hot springs available, also all over the world, to get your dose of minerals. Mineral baths differ in that the water is usually channeled or imported from underground geysers into tubs at a spa or resort and the temperature of the water is regulated. People who seek out mineral baths or hot springs do so for a bevy of reasons. Many find it very relaxing and those who have trouble sleeping say it provides them a better quality of sleep; it may also reduce tension, improve blood circulation and help combat fatigue. Mud baths have been reported to help with chronic aches and pains and facilitate the removal of toxins from our body that accumulate over time by sweating them out. Some skin problems may also be helped by mineral baths, such as itching and scaling. One study even claims that a peat-sulfur bath specifically, is a more effective treatment of soft tissue rheumatism (chronic muscular pain) than standard physical therapy.
If getting dirty isnt a problem then consider a mud bath. Given that mud body-wraps are all the rage at upscale day spas everywhere, it seems that mineral-rich mud baths produce results. They have been found to increase circulation and energize skin tissue, resulting in firmer, toned skin. With frequent use they are reported to improve skin complexion, clear up acne and eczema, and provide some relief from rheumatic pain or joint pain caused by injuries. Proponents of the Dead Sea mud have even grander claims. They say it heals wounds, stimulates hair growth, eliminates dandruff and may help with migraine headaches.
If any of these mineral soaking methods are appealing investigate local spas that may offer these services or there are also do-it-yourself options. Many companies sell Dead Sea salts (Ahava was mentioned earlier) which can be added to a hot bath. Or if time and money are not a factor plan a vacation around a well-known hot spring or hit the Dead Sea area itself and sit back and relax. After all, it was good enough for Cleopatra. So go ahead and treat yourself like a queen.
|© Melt Magazine 2003|