Humans and animals alike have for centuries been benefitting from the warm mineral goodness that spews from the earth at various hotspots around the world. Some use them for bathing, others for healing; some grab a soak for simple relaxation, and others love them as a destination spot for a day out or weekend away. You can drink it, soak in it, steam in it, or lather up with some hot springs mud. Whatever the reason that motivated you to read this Traxplorio article today, you’ll be leaving with insight into the secret powers and ultimate benefits of a soak in Earth’s hot mineral waters – we do love to inspire!
Just What Are “Hot Springs”?
Hot springs are usually found in volcanic areas and are made when freshwater comes into contact with very hot rock heated by magma. This then circulates up to the Earth’s surface, bubbling out in hot pockets and carrying with it numerous minerals, minerals which vary depending on which hot spring you head to. In active volcanic zones like the renowned Yellowstone in Wyoming, the magma is closer to the surface and is so hot (and sometimes acidic!) that contact with the water can result in injury or death – definitely not for soaking in! In non-volcanic areas, however, the “geothermal gradient” (increase in temperature the further within the Earth’s crust the magma is) guarantees a more comfortable temperature by the time the water reaches the surface.
Isn’t Hot-Springing A “Hippy” Thing?
Today, in the United States, heading out to a hot springs is still generally underrated, often seen as a hippie pastime or something that only “the locals” do. But there is a blooming culture of hot-springing that sees ever more people these days willing to head specifically to a destination boasting a hot springs soak, while hot springs resorts are growing in popularity for their community-feel and healing waters.
Are Hot Springs Really “All That”?
While there are health, safety, and cleanliness factors to consider before you soak, the benefits of hot springs aren’t just folk tales that the natives made up – there is an entire field of science known as “balneology,” which explores the “treatment of disease by bathing.” Head over to the Balneology Association website to find out more about the concept. In short, science continues to prove the truth to the legends of the benefits of hot springs, and that is something we’re going to explore further here.
It’s a sad truth that our busy lives, if we’re not careful, can lead us to poor diets and less-than-healthy lifestyles, resulting in mineral deficiencies – this fascinating page gives you more information on the most common deficiencies found in today’s society, so we won’t go into it too much here, but what we will say is that there is nothing but goodness to be had from a careful soak in natural geothermal waters packed full of dissolved minerals from deep within the Earth.
Which Minerals Do What?
Different springs have different minerals. There is a common misconception that all good and “real” hot springs should smell like rotten eggs (sulfur), but this is not true. Perfectly beneficial hot springs may well boast high levels of sodium instead, or calcium, silica, or our favorite- lithium. Lots of minerally words there, as there always are when our team is researching the next hot spring to visit. To help us all out, we decided to look up exactly what the most common hot spring minerals can do for us, and below we share what we found with you.
Boron – strengthens bones and helps boost brain function
Calcium – promotes healthy bones and overall health
Sodium – an essential nutrient, your body needs it to help balance body fluids and keep muscles and nerves running
Sulfate – a big pain reliever which is also essential for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails
Lithium – what we at Traxplorio like to call the “happy mineral” – it elevates mood and helps produce a sense of calm
Potassium – vital for heart and kidney health
Fluoride – just what you need for healthy bones and teeth
Chloride – this mineral helps to regulate blood pressure and pH in your body
Magnesium – an energy-booster
Manganese – contributes to healthy bone growth
Iron – vital for blood health and boosts immunity
Zinc – also good for boosting immunity, and great for a healthy digestive system
Phosphate – is a must for a healthy metabolism and storing up energy
Silica – good for softening skin and thickening (head) hair
Nitrogen – and here’s another one perfect for happy skin, hair, and nails
A Closer Look At Hot Springs Benefits
Now we’ll take a closer look at what a hot springs soak can do for you. Yup, we’re really selling it now!
Go Soak And Boost Your Circulation – Natural hot springs water with content high in calcium and sodium bicarbonate makes for boosted blood circulation. As we soak, our bodies absorb these minerals, leading to increased oxygen flow.
Go Soak And Relieve Your Stress – Hot mineral water can reduce stress by relaxing tense muscles, and will ultimately lead to a night of deeper sleep.
Go Soak and Relieve Your Pain – Soaking in hot springs can help relieve pain and the tiredness resulting from pain. Heat has been found by scientists to block the pain receptors in our bodies. Floating is also a good idea for achieving the same effect- let the water support your joints for easier movement.
Go Soak And Detox Your Skin – The high silica content found in many hot springs can smooth and soften dry, rough skin, while sulfur boasts medicinal properties that help relieve such conditions as eczema and psoriasis.
Go Soak And Ease Bone And Joint Issues – A regular soak in a natural hot springs is the ideal way to help deal with the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The heat opens the blood vessels so that fresh, nutrient-rich blood can flow more freely into your joints.
Go Soak And Boost Your Mental Health – Soaking in hot water naturally lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) in our blood. And if lithium is present in your hot spring of choice, you’ll be able to soak up a bit of calm and happiness too.
Disclaimer – Always check with your doctor before visiting hot springs to be sure it is right and safe for you.
Don’t let old-fashioned ideas about hot springs put you off – treat yourself to a regular hot-spring soaking. There are plenty of hot springs out there – from “out in the wilderness” to spa-like, all-inclusive resorts. Trust us, if you take the plunge (and plan carefully beforehand), your body and soul will thank you for it!