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Balneotherapy & Balneology
The Science and Art of Mineral Water Therapy

In Pursuit of Excellent Water

Water Flow Form

"I have reached the inner vision
And through thy spirit in me
I have heard thy wondrous secret.
Through thy mystic insight
Thou hast caused a spring of knowledge
To well up within me,
A fountain of power, pouring forth living
A flood of love and of all-embracing wisdom
Like the splendor of Eternal Light."
- Edmond Bordeaux Szekely: The Essene Gospel of Peace, Book 2


Natural Therapuetic Hot Springs WaterThe study of pelotherapy and healing clays eventually leads the earnest explorer to a close examination of the qualities of water. The type and characteristics of any water used to hydrate clay has an incredible effect on the end product. After all, with purer smectites ( bentonite and montmorillonites ) there is usually two to four times as much water (by volume) as there is actual clay.

In this section, and several others, we wish to present our independent study and research into the properties of waters: those natural and therapeutic, those processed, and waters modified through increasingly sophisticated natural technology.

The art and science of balneology is a practice that is not well known in the United States and other parts of North America. However, we predict that in the next twenty years, the need for hydrotherapy, pelotherapy, and balneotherapy will increase dramatically world-wide.

In fact, in modern Europe and Japan, the medical science of balneology is already an integrated part of allopathic medical practice and preventative medicine.

Our research into the effects of therapeutic waters embraces what is scientifically known. However, it also delves far into more esoteric realms. Much of the research in this section was done studying the healing and therapeutic properties of the Tecopa Hot Springs, on the southeast edge of Death Valley, in the vast and great Mojave Desert.


Hot Springs Experiment - Nov. 2012

Studying an artesian water source that provides water that hasn't seen the light of day in an estimated 1.5 million years (according to a BLM employee quoting data from a geological survey) is an amazing opportunity. The Tecopa Hot Spring source is a giant underground lake heated to a very stable 116 degrees F., and flows through a river-like channel beneath the Spring Mountain Range. Some geologists believe that the water source is from beneath Death Valley. If so, it winds its way from Death Valley, passes beneath the Spring Mountain Range, and rises near the surface in Tecopa California.

Not too overburdened with minerals to be damaging and drying to healthy skin, it's most likely the bicarbonates in the water, coupled with the low sulphur content that provide a mineral combination that travellers have coveted since before Europeans set foot in the Western United States. And while the warmth of the water is soothing, and heated by a chamber of molten lava, the energy behind the heat is quite different from many other geothermal hot springs.

The river-like chamber is under constant pressure; as such, there is no release for the small amount of natural, dissolved gasses which would otherwise dissipate into an atmosphere. There is also an interesting side effect of pressurizing this mineral-rich water: The production of far infrared heat.

This is a heat that quite literally causes a weary traveller's bones to sing; a heat that penetrates deep into the body, stimulating circulation while transdermally delivering trace minerals such as magnesium. There is no doubt that some of the gasses are adsorbed as they are liberated when the water reaches the surface, as the pores of the body open and the body immersed within cleanses.

Who knows what frequencies and wave forms, too subtle and fast changing to measure, are emparted as the over-excited water finally reaches a resting place on the open surface of the Earth, as collapsing wave forms and spinning molecules begin to finally slow?

By trial and error, I estimated that as long as the fresh surface water remained above 102 degrees, the energetic properties of the water are still present (considering that all ambient conditions are mild, not directly effecting the temperature of the emmerging source.)

Taking a Baseline Measurement of a Geothermal Spring Source

A Little Personal Balneological Experiment

Taking a digital multi-purpose meter, and gently lowering it into the water, I gathered my initial data.

At this particular source, the water has cooled to a nice 110.5 degrees F. This contrasts drilled well measurements from other areas, which almost always read 116 degrees F.

The pH of the water is close to 8.5, as compared to 7.4 - 7.6 measured from piped well water. Clearly, this water has taken on some of the alkalinity of the bentonite clay as the water gently bubbled to the surface.

This matches the measurements I've done in the past, and is not suprising. Today's experiment, however, is an experiment designed to compare and contrast the mini ecosystem formed by the presence of the hot springs water emerging into a clay filled, lazy river with decomposing organic matter. Something magical happens which results in the creation of a rich, organic, living mud; one which I've used therapeutically on many occasions... One which must be used at the source in order to harness its healing properties.

The next measurement is the critical one: The ORP. ORP stands for oxidation reduction potential. A high (positive) ORP reading indicates a strong oxidizing potential. A low (negative) reading indicates a powerful free radical scavenger (a high antioxidant potential).

Without disturbing the water, I waited a good two minutes for readings to stabilize. The ORP reading comes back: About +60.

Next, I travelled "down stream" a few dozen feet. Reaching into the water, I gently agitated the clay-filled, sulphorous mud until the water clouded. I took my second reading:

ORP: -65.

The land itself, by virtue of the very fragile self-sustaining ecosystem, transformed the water from a mildy oxidative water, to an antioxidant, electron-rich water... nearly its exact opposite!

This was the exact thing I hypothesized would happen, and it provides a very big clue on how to both improve the qualities of thermal waters, as well as improve the action of therapeutic clays.

Bentonite Rich Mud

In fact, it means that this natural clay-filled mud is actually an antioxidant therapeutic mud!

It should be noted that many scientists believe that an aqueous solution of negative ORP "water" does not and cannot exist in nature. What they fail to realize is that biosystems are often self-regulating and self-sustaining, and that such an occurence can... and indeed does... exist in nature.

For more experiments, studies and commentaries on waters, clay, and health topics, be sure to visit Tecopia Essentia Earth Cures:

The Ways of Drinking Water - Introduction to Drinking Water

Alkalizing and Balancing the Body Minerals - Using electron-rich mineral salts to deliver trace minerals intracellularly.

...or read on and learn more about the fascinating world of balneology and balneotherapy!


Red Rock Canyon National Park - Natural Flow Form

Welcome to... Eytons' Earth!

Healing Waters, Balneolotherapy: Introduction
Hot Springs Therapy - Sacred Healing Waters: Experiments & Observations

Green healing clay, bentonite, Fuller's Earth, Montmorillonite
~ Quick On-page Links ~

What is Balneology? || Definition of a Hot Spring || Hot Springs Mineral Content || Contraindications
|| Notes on Balneotherapy ||


Featured: Did You Know...?

...that doctors commonly tell people that a skin condition, caused by a virus that produces lesions, has no cure. But one particular four year old child suffering from this infectious condition rapidly cured it. The condition is known as Molluscum Contagiosum. Learn more: The Clay Cure for Molluscum Contagiosum.



What is Balneology?

Balneology is the scientific study of naturally occurring mineral waters. In the United States, this science is not very well known, and is even less seldom practiced. However, throughout Europe and Japan, balneology and hot springs therapy is very much a part of routine medical care. Medical prescriptions are given by licensed doctors for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, and utilizing mineral waters as a part of preventative medicine is widely recognized and encouraged. Balneotherapy is the practical study and application of the health benefits of water.

Hot springs therapy became popular in the United States in the nineteenth century and reached a pinnacle in the United States in the 1940's. During this brief hot springs era, doctors and resort owners, as well as an ever-enthusiastic general public, attributed many cures and health benefits to the use of therapeutic geothermally heated mineral waters. However, the hot springs movement did not last long enough to mature into a socio-cultural tradition which would have eventually resulted in formal research and medical acceptance. Furthermore, the FDA eventually stepped in and prohibited organizations from making unsubstantiated health claims concerning the medicinal value of natural mineral waters.

These facts not withstanding, hot spring soaking has a deep and far reaching tradition in North America, starting with the indigenous North American Native Tribes who considered choice hot springs to be "power spots" in nature. Native cultures universally utilized the natural waters for healing, purification ceremonies, sacred gatherings, and tribal meetings.

Although the brief hot springs movement in the United States faded, enough interest remained by way of naturalists, enthusiasts, and especially those more spiritually inclined, to keep many small resorts in operation throughout the country during the later part of the 20th century.

What remains universally true is the ignorance associated with potential healing powers of natural mineral waters. When questioning Native American healers, therapists, resort owners, and enthusiasts, vague opinions and unsubstantiated "facts" are often prevalent, some of which are contrary to established scientific fact.

The rest of this article is designed to "clear away the pervasive fog" associated healing waters, as much as possible based on scientific research and prevalent scientific theory. Most of the information included is derived from European and Japanese medical sources. Links, as they become available, will be included to more advanced topics concerning more esoteric subjects, including the hot springs effect on the human bio energy system, flow forms, structured water, and more.

Our own personal and independent research was and is being conducted at the Inyo County "Tecopa" Hot Springs, located on the southeast edge of Death Valley, in the Mojave Desert.

What Makes a Mineral Hot Spring a Mineral Hot Spring?

In the United States, there are no real standards to classify the properties of hot springs. However, in Europe and Japan, there are general standards that are widely accepted by balneologists.

The Hot Springs Source

There are two primary classifications of hot springs:

  • Filtration Hot Springs
    • A filtration hot spring is a geothermally heated mineral water that is initially fed by rain water that seeps into the Earth through faults and fractures. As it travels into the Earth, it becomes subject to increased energy from natural geothermal heat, and is exposed to gases and an often wide variety of minerals from rock and mineral deposits. The water adsorbs the minerals via leaching, is heated by the geothermal heat source, and then returns to the Earth's surface.
  • Primary Hot Springs
    • A primary hot spring is a geothermally heated mineral water, where direct volcanic activity plays a far greater role in the process of the hot springs formation. One of the fundamental physical distinctions between a filtration spring and a primary spring is the mineral and gas content of the water, such as radon and bromide. Primary hot springs are often "powered" by magma chambers which exist miles under the Earth's surface, as well as in volcanically active regions.

    What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?

  • The Tecopa Hot Springs are primary hot springs. According to native traditions, the Tecopa hot springs would be considered a primary water source, embodied with the living power of Mother Earth. The water that surfaces is estimated to have been deep within the Earth for more than 1.5 million years ( according to our source at the Bureau of Land Management, Inyo County, California ).

The Hot Springs Temperature: Cool, Warm, or Hot?

Balneologists generally accept the following classification of mineral springs:

  • Cold Springs - temperatures below 77° F ( 25° C )
  • Tepid Springs - temperatures ranging from 77 - 93° F ( 25°-34° C )
  • Warm Springs - temperatures ranging from 93 F - 108° F ( 34° - 42° C )
  • Hot Springs - temperatures above 108° ( 42° C )


What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?

    The Inyo County Tecopa Hot Mineral Springs are classified as Hot Springs. While the temperature of the water fluctuates between different sources, the water temperature usually measures between 116 - 118° F. The ambient temperature of the water in the summer months, however, can be as a high as 121 - 135° F.

    The temperature of the water for spas is regulated at no hotter than 104° F by the State of California. In order to experience the full therapeutic benefit of the "hot springs" classification, a single use or special use tub must be utilized.

The Hot Springs Mineral Content

The legal classification of a mineral spring varies in different parts of the world. Generally speaking:

A mineral spring contains greater than 1000 mg/l ( PPM ) of naturally dissolved solids.

What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?

The Tecopa Hot Springs are classified as true mineral springs, and have dissolved solids measuring over 2000 mg/l ( PPM ), based on the assessment conducted at Delight's Hot Springs Resort.

The Hot Springs PH Level

Waters may be classified as acidic, basic, or neutral, according to the balance of hydrogen in the water.

Acidic waters are waters that measure below 7.0 on the PH scale.
Neutral waters are waters that measure 7.0 on the PH scale.
Basic/Alkaline waters are waters that measure above 7.0 on the PH scale.

What is the Classification of the Tecopa Hot Springs?

The Tecopa Hot Springs are low sulfur, high sulfate alkaline hot springs, with a ph level between 7.4 - 7.6. The alkalinity is primarily the result of the potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium ions.

Hot Springs Therapy: Mineral Content

European balneologists have extensively studied the therapeutic value of mineral waters. Mineral springs with different mineral content are often recommended above others for various therapeutic uses.

In addition to the value of the trace minerals found in most hot springs, and the stimulating benefits of highly mineralized waters, balneotherapists generally agree on the following observations:


In Spain, a bicarbonate water is classified as such if the water contains more than 250 PPM of free carbon gas. However, springs that contain bicarbonate gasses ( sodium bicarbonate, calcium bicarbonate, carbon dioxide, etc. ) may also be utilized for the observed benefits commonly associated with bicarbonate hot springs.

Bathing in bicarbonate water, the balneologists believe, assists opening peripheral blood vessels and helps to improve circulation to the body's extremities.

European balneotherapists also utilize bicarbonate waters for bathing to address hypertension and mild atherosclerosis. For these conditions, tepid to warm baths are utilized ( 86 - 100° F ).

Some researchers believe that bicarbonate baths also assist cardiovascular disease and nervous system imbalances.

How do the Tecopa Hot Springs Rate?

The Tecopa Hot Springs contain 668 PPM bicarbonate content, although the bicarbonate content does not produce a "carbonated" effect such as the Chatel-Guyon Hot Springs in France.

Sulfur and Sulfates

Hot Springs rich in Sulfur, in France, Spain, and Japan, are used to address a wide variety of conditions, including skin infections, respiratory problems, and skin inflammations.

Hot springs rich in sulfates ( i.e. sulfur compounds ) have a far reduced "sulfur" effect as compared to Sulfur-rich springs. Such waters are often prescribed internally for liver and gastrointestinal conditions, as well as for some respiratory conditions with inhalation therapy, in European spas.

How do the Tecopa Hot Springs Rate?

The Tecopa Hot springs contain no free sulfur or sulfurous gas. The Tecopa Hot Springs have been measured to contain 497.5 PPM of sulfate compounds.


Saline hot springs are rich in sodium chloride. Mineral springs naturally rich in chlorides, in amounts between .5 - 3%, are considered by some researchers to be beneficial for rheumatic conditions, arthritis, central nervous system conditions, posttraumatic and postoperative disorders, as well as orthopedic and gynecological disease.

How do the Tecopa Hot Springs Rate?

The Tecopa Hot springs contain 371 PPM chloride content.

Other Mineral Research:

  • Benefits of Arsenic - While arsenic in larger doses is toxic in the human body, minute amounts may assist the body with plasma and tissue growth. Foot bathing in mineral waters with a high content of arsenic is used to address fungal conditions of the feet.
  • Benefits Boron - Boron builds muscle mass, increases brain activity and strengthens bones.
  • Benefits of Magnesium - Magnesium converts blood sugar to energy and promotes healthy skin.
  • Benefits of Potassium - Potassium assists in the normalization of heart rhythms, assists in reducing high blood pressure, helps to eliminate body toxins and promotes healthy skin.
  • Benefits of Sodium - Sodium and natural salts assist with the alleviation of arthritic symptoms, and may stimulate the body's lymphatic system when used in baths.

Alkaline water that is high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium may assist the body in cleansing through the skin.

What do the medical balneologists have to say about the temperature of mineral water for therapy?

It is believed among some circles that warm spring soaking is more beneficial ( 99 - 101° F ) than thermal therapy. This is not necessarily supported by independent research and medical scientific analysis.

European medical doctors have conducted research into thermal therapy, and have found that:

  • Hydrostatic pressure in the body is increased
    • This results in increased blood circulation and cell oxygenation
      • The elimination systems of the body are thus stimulated, improving the body's capacity to detoxify
    • The body's metabolism is stimulated
      • This results in improved digestion
    • 3 to 4 weeks of regular thermal bathing can assist in the normalization of endocrine glands and assist the automatic nervous system

Many of the stimulating benefits of hot springs water are temperature dependent. Balneologists have found that hot springs soaking temporarily relieves chronic pain directly associated with inflammation, even in cases where inflammation has not been reduced. This effect is heavily reliant upon the temperature of the waters.

In Japan, at the famous Kusatsu hot spring, a 3-minute 125° F bath is utilized for an extraordinary therapeutic experience. Each visitor is pre-screened by the "bath master" to determine if such a bath would be safe and beneficial for each individual.

The founder of Delight's Hot Springs Resort kept a private and personal use therapy tub set at a consistent 116° F.

Not everyone should utilize high-temperature hot springs for therapeutic use. The state of one's metabolism and the the presence of medical conditions is the determining factor when considering the most safe and healthy water temperature to bath in.


Contraindications to Hot Water Natural Mineral Springs Therapy:

  • Conditions involving high fevers
  • Extreme Hypertension
  • Malignant tumors and cancerous conditions ( internal )
  • Liver, kidney, or circulation disorders
  • Conditions presenting the risk of hemorrhaging
  • Anemic Conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Congestive heart failure, recent stroke, or recent heart attack
  • Bathing under the influence of drugs or alcohol

The existence of these or other metabolic conditions does not necessarily mean that there would be no benefit derived from utilizing mineral waters. It does mean, however, that there is a risk associated that may out way any benefit to utilizing hot waters. In such situations, individuals should consult with a medical doctor before bathing, or consult with a European medical balneologist.

In any case, soaking in mineral waters should not be done at excessively high temperatures without medical clearance when any contraindicated condition exists. A tepid to warm bath ( ~ 95° F - ~ 99° ) is as safe as taking a bath at home.

Other Interesting Notes on Balneology & Balneotherapy

Severe Chronic Illness: The Three Stages of Spa Therapy Response

Researchers and Balneotherapists in Poland have identified three possible response stages to hot springs therapy, where chronic illness spa programs lasting three to four weeks are utilized for a wide variety of conditions.

1. Spa Adaptation

A period of 3 to 7 days of environmental adjustment. This is both a psychological and physiological stage where the mind and body go through a period of adjustment to the external environment, including a physiological response to hot spring therapy.

2. Spa Crisis

A possible spa crisis has been observed approximately two weeks into therapy. Symptoms include malaise, fever, tachycardia, headache, fatigue, insomnia and pain. An acute flare-up of a dormant condition may occur. In some cases, medication may be required to control symptoms, and traditionally, spa treatment is reduced or temporarily suspended during this period. This response is similar to a herxheimer reaction, or the "externalization of symptoms" extremely common as a part of natural healing in natural medicine.

3. Regeneration

Balneotherapists have noted that the final stage of spa therapy results in an overall improvement in the indicated condition, and that beneficial results may not be noticeable by the individual for many weeks after the treatment program has been completed. Balneotherapists have noted that benefits derived from spa therapy can be extended for up to 10 to 12 months after treatment.

Mineral & Water Adsorption - Toxic Waste / Metabolic By-Product Elimination

The movement of minerals into the body as the result of mineral water therapy is dependent upon:

1. The fat/water solubility due to the structure of the skin membrane.

The movement of water into and out of the body during mineral water therapy is dependent upon:

1. The osmolality of the bath and the fluid condition of the individual.

Depending upon the osmolality of the bath, water is either adsorbed into the body or pulled from the body. Although we do not have a tonicity report to classify the Tecopa Hot Springs as hypotonic, isotonic or hypertonic, we believe that the Tecopa Hot Springs water provide a slightly hyperosmal bath; water is pulled from the body.

Mineral adsorption via hot springs soaking is extremely small, and the amount adsorbed into the body is concentration dependent and varies depending on the mineral and its chemical form. Even so, medical balneotherapists have noted that even minute amounts of therapeutic minerals adsorbed into the body via the skin have a significant therapeutic value.

The ion exchange capacity of hot springs mineral waters also influences mineral and water adsorption, and is defined by the ionic dissociation of the minerals in the water. A higher free ion content equates to a greater ion exchange capacity.

In short, the osmotic qualities, the mineral concentration, the PH level, and the mineral form effect the transdermal carrier effects of any mineral waters, as well as the fluid conditions of the individual soaking.



Eytons' Earth would like to give a special thank you to Nathaniel Altman for his ground breaking work: "Healing Springs, The Ultimate Guide to Taking the Waters", which provides the only in-depth look into European Balneology available in mass print for the North American audience.

Healing Springs
Nathaniel Altman

Green healing clay, bentonite, Fuller's Earth, Montmorillonite
Sacred Waters
Nathaniel Altman


Other resources located within the Southern Nevada Area:

Black Canyon Hot Springs & Kayaking - Kayaking, hiking and Hot Springs. Who could ask for anything more?


Natural desert healing clay obtained directly from a vein of bentonite, suitable for use in pelotherapy



Green healing clay, bentonite, Fuller's Earth, Montmorillonite



See Also:

Eytons' Earth - Green Healing Clays of the Desert


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Topic: balneology-balneotherapy.php
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Azro Akimoto
May 2017
First Poster
Azro Akimoto says...
I want to learn more about Balneology/Balneotherapy. I was wondering if there were colleges that offered courses/medical or science degree in it.
I don't know if there are in the US, but I would like to know if there are just in case. If there aren't any in the US, what would be the closest thing I could study, at college (or privately) to start studying about hot springs.
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