I grew up in the town of Soufriere, so of course the smell of rotten eggs does not faze me. As a matter of fact, I relish any and every opportunity to immerse my body into the source of what some may consider a horrible stench (which, by the way, is caused by sulfur dioxide gas escaping into the air.) There is even a name for it—‘balneotherapy.’ Hot spring waters packed with naturally occurring minerals can impart medicinal benefits and the anecdotal evidence of the Sulphur Springs healing various ailments of the soul, mind and body are not new to us.
This week. I figured we would talk about the scientific benefits. There are many reasons soaking in warm water works; it delivers relief to stiff muscles and frozen joints by stimulating blood flow, it gives the body a respite from the pull of gravity which can compress joints and cause pain and soreness, it can also decrease swelling and inflammation and increases circulation. Spring waters actually contain a variety of minerals including magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium and iodine. It is the presence of these minerals from the depths of the earth that make certain spring waters are highly valued for their curative properties. It is also high in many minerals and it is believed these minerals have healing properties when absorbed by the skin in a hot bath.
Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral that is found primarily near hot springs and volcanic craters. Sulfur is part of the chemical structure of three different amino acids (the building blocks that make up protein) – namely, cystine, cysteine, and methionine. Sulfur works with vitamins B1 (thiamine), B5 (pantothenic acid), and H (biotin) to promote metabolism and communication between nerve cells. It is most concentrated in keratin, which gives you strong hair, nails, and skin. It is known as “nature’s beauty mineral” because your body needs to manufacture collagen, which keeps your skin elastic, beautiful, and young looking. I can see an immediate glow every time I soak in the Sulphur Springs.
Sulfur helps heal numerous skin ailments and also helps to protect your body against toxins in the environment. People with arthritis find pain relief from taking a sulphur bath and it is shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Soaking in sulfur water baths is an effective way to relieve the burning, pain and itching caused by hemorrhoids. Other issues that it helps with include digestive disorders such as acid reflux, premenstrual issues, menopausal symptoms, heightened cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Sulfur may assist the liver in its detoxifying functions and inhaling healing mineral water as vapor can be an effective treatment for asthma, sinus problems, allergies and other respiratory problems, clearing mucus from the lungs and facilitating breathing. The benefits go on and on but we need to stop here for now! Are you packed and headed to Soufriere yet? See you there!