What is Thalassotherapy?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Thalassotherapy is a family of body treatments which are designed to utilize substances which are acquired from the ocean, such as seawater, marine mud, and seaweed. Many spas offer several thalassotherapy treatments, and in some regions spas dedicate themselves to offering just thalassotherapy, with an array of treatment options for clients to choose from. Numerous claims are made about the benefits of thalassotherapy treatments; the actual benefits vary, depending on the treatment and the persona administering it.

Some spas offer cold seawater plunges after a sauna session.
Some spas offer cold seawater plunges after a sauna session.

People have been using products of the ocean in healing for thousands of years. Many cultures with coastal access have integrated seaweed into their diets, for example, and have used marine mud, seaweed extracts, and other ocean products in various body treatments. The rise of thalassotherapy as a trendy treatment really took off in the 1800s, when several seaside spas in France started offering thalassotherapy treatments, making abundant claims about their benefits which attracted women from all over Europe.

Thalassotherapy is among the many treatments that may be offered at a full-service day spa.
Thalassotherapy is among the many treatments that may be offered at a full-service day spa.

There are certainly some inarguable benefits to thalassotherapy. Seawater is rich in dissolved minerals, for example, and bathing in warm seawater can stimulate circulation, open the pores, and encourage absorption of these minerals. It can also relieve stress on strained joints, and when combined with massage, it can promote a general feeling of well being. Seaweeds and muds used in wraps and soaks also have high concentrations of dissolved compounds which can be beneficial for health.

Some European thalassotherapy spas include luxurious vacation packages.
Some European thalassotherapy spas include luxurious vacation packages.

The kind of services which you may receive at a spa which offers thalassotherapy can vary widely. Many spas offer warm seawater soaks, seaweed wraps, marine mud baths, and massage. It is also possible to find steamrooms with seawater, or to experience directed jets of warm seawater for a vigorous massage. Some spas may also have seawater cold plunges, best enjoyed after a stimulating sauna, and a few have developed their own unique spa treatments, like sea salt scrubs.

If you are interested in a thalassotherapy session, you have a number of options. You may be able to find a local spa which offers some treatments, sometimes bundled in a package for people who want, for example, a soak and a wrap. Some people like to create their own treatments at home, using muds and wraps which can be self-applied. You can also travel to a specialty spa which offers such treatments; France, Greece, and Italy are all famous for their thalassotherapy spas, allowing guests to combine a vacation in a beautiful place with pampering at the hands of skilled therapists.

A massage may be part of the body treatment services offered at a spa offering thalassotherapy.
A massage may be part of the body treatment services offered at a spa offering thalassotherapy.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

SZapper

@starrynight - You're right, thalassotherapy does sound like kind of a hoax. But even if it sounds a little weird, I think it does work.

I got to participate in a spa treatment for a wedding I was part of a few years ago. I was skeptical about some of the treatments too until I actually tried them! After the spa day I was so relaxed. I always said I would go back for another spa day, but I haven't gotten the chance yet.

starrynight

I'm kind of surprised that thalassotherapy actually has some proven benefits. The whole idea of a seaweed wrap and a marine mud bath sound ridiculous to me! It sounds like some idea cooked up by a luxury spa to make almost 100% profit. I doubt marine mud is that expensive!

Unfortunately, I don't have the funds for a fancy spa treatment. And I'm just not brave enough to try cooking up my own at-home thalassotherapy treatment!

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