The health benefits of sea water, sea air, seaweed, and algae
Thalassotherapy is the therapeutic use of seawater, marine products such as algae, seaweed, marine mud, and even marine climate to promote health, wellness, and beauty. The name comes from the Greek word thalassa (“sea”) and therapia (“cure”), which was coined by the Frenchman Jacques de la Bombardier in the 1860s.
It was a traditional treatment for people with joint problems and injuries, and yes, French healthcare will pay a visit.
More recently, the focus has been on stress relief, weight loss, and addressing aches and pains, with most clients paying their own visit.
The principle behind thalassotherapy is that frequent immersion in warm sea water, marine mud, and protein-rich algae helps restore the body’s natural chemical balance. Sea water and human plasma are very similar in terms of mineral content, a fact that was discovered by another Frenchman, René Quinton. When the body is immersed in warm sea water, it absorbs the minerals it needs – trace elements magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium and iodine – through the skin.
The use of hot sea water for therapeutic benefits was attributed to the Romans, who also loved to enjoy the hot mineral springs. However, modern thalassotherapy was pioneered in France, which still has more thalassotherapy spas than any other country. It is literally a medical treatment, not just a relief
Modern thalassotherapy centers are located on the ocean and contain complex facilities, including pools of various sizes and temperatures for various purposes. The sea water comes from a depth of 40 feet so there is no surface pollution. It also comes from some distance from the beach.
To be accredited by France Thalasso, a thalassotherapy center must:
To be located near the ocean in a pure environment.
Using natural sea water in swimming pools and completely replenishing it every 24 hours.
Provide medical supervision and staff of physiotherapists, hydrotherapists, dietitians, sports coaches and cosmetologists.
France Thalasso has nearly 40 members: more than twenty along the Atlantic coast. Eleven are along the Mediterranean coast (or the French Riviera), and seven are along the canal coast. There are also thalassotherapy centers in other countries, notably Spain, Tunisia and Italy.
Sea water treatment
Thalasso treatments include bathtubs with underwater massages. The body is enveloped with silt clays, algae (red, blue, and brown) or various types of micronized seaweed, which present the minerals in more concentrated forms. Different treatments have different effects, including pain relief, slimming and toning, detoxification, and easing of skin conditions such as acne and eczema.
You can also get the benefit of warm sea water that you don’t get from swimming in the cold sea water. The main ingredient of sea water is sodium choride (salt), but it is also rich in minerals and trace elements. Immersion in warm seawater allows these minerals to pass through the skin.
In France, the most famous thalassotherapy centers are located in the French Basque Country (Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, etc.) and Brittany (Saint-Malo, La Baule, Arzon, Quiberon, Deparde and others). Doctors, dietitians, physiotherapists, hydrotherapists and estheticians are on hand to find the protocol that’s right for you. Speaking French is a real plus, if not a necessity.
Find Thalassotherapy closer to home
Thalassotherapy is not initiated in the United States, so you cannot find the same complex thalassotherapy facilities in Europe. And they have been detained in the United States by laws requiring chlorination with water when more than one person has bathed. Our closest thing to a European-style thalassotherapy spa is Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, which has a seawater pool (with as little chlorine as possible) and underwater massage spa treatments that use pure sea water.
Zoety Paraiso de la Bonita in the Riviera Maya, half an hour south of Cancun, is a luxury resort on a secluded white sandy beach that has made a specialty of thalassotherapy at the 22,000-square-foot Thalasso Center & Spa. It offered a variety of thalasso treatments (baths, massages, massages and facials) and programs aimed at slimming, getting rid of cellulite, beauty, stress relief, and men. It also has a seawater pool with seawater, with hydrojets for muscle relaxation.
If you are at a spa near the ocean, you can get the benefits of thalassotherapy by walking on the beach, inhaling the sea air, or having a seaside massage. (Pathogens are less the closer you get to the shore.) Mud and marine wraps are the traditional treatment for thalassotherapy at most spas.
There are also several lines of marine body and skin care: Phytomer from France. Osea, a California-based streak that uses seaweed that is certified by the Organization for Organic and Hand-harvested Organic Farming in Patagonia; Spa Technologies, which delivers green algae bath powder and moisturizing laminaria oil to deliver some sea benefits no matter where you live; Babor Sea Creation (super expensive and very effective, and classic Creme de la Mer.