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Přednášky Peru 2005 Vylita

Part I Balneology – Modern Trends and the Czech Republic Case Study


  1. Balneology and its Basic Division

Balneology was formerly described like the only medicinal scientific branch seeing to the usage of local natural curative resources and their effects on human body. During the times the balneotherapy and balneotechnics were defined like basic parts of balneology, for there is no medicine without support of technics and natural sciences.


There are plenty of spa localities all over the world where the curative effects of water, salts and mud are used in praxis, but there are great differences among them. First of all in balneotherapeutical praxis because there are many spa resorts using water and other resources just for fun or relaxation without any ambition to heal the physical organism or the soul.


The contemporary division of balneology used in the continental Europe which is the typical spa area with a great healing tradition is therefore to

Balneotherapy i.e the medicine of natural curative resources, using not only water but peloids or specific climatic conditions and usually traditional curative processes including life regimen and dietetic provisions to prevent the diseases, to heal the body, to post-surgical recuperation and rehabilitate all the states demanding the medical care. The specialised health resorts are used to provide such care, usually in the places with the occurence of natural curative resources,


Balneotechnics i.e the complex of technical and nature-historical sciences seeing to tapping, accumulation, distribution of natural resources, taking care about technical equipment of health resorts, about prospective protection of natural sources etc. Balneotechnics is based on hydrogeology (i.e. geology of ground water), chemistry, hydrology, climatology and civil engineering, building trade and architecture, too.



  1. History of Balneology

The original application of a spa was usually based on hot springs , where people seeking relief from chronic diseases soaked in mineral-rich thermal water. There are many archeological excavations all over the world talking about that fact, e.g. Teplice in Bohemia , Gánovce in Slovakia etc. Si mple relaxation took place later in the proximity of hot springs occurrence e.g. in ancient Greece and Rome . Centuries of experience have shown that the local thermal or just mineral waters have beneficial therapeutic effects e.g. on digestive tract or metabolic diseases etc. The thousands and thousands spa clients = patients - mentioned that the spa procedures have a general positive impact on their overall physical and mental well being.


Most of people are consciously aware of the responsibility they bear for their own health, now. Spa treatment provides therapeutic and preventative benefits for them. The huge development of health resorts in the Middle Europe in the 19 th and 20 th century is still going on here, may be not in extense but intense style.


The former bath therapy usually consisted of hours long rituals to provide relief for diseases of joints, muscles and tendons and relief for post-injury pains (injuries coming not only from battles but hunting and work accidence). Rheumatic conditions used to be very often medieval problems because of moist, poorly heated stone buildings, too. The warm baths might have had soothing and healing effects on skin problems concerning the personal and community hygiene of that time were. Intestinal parasites and syphillis were common, too.


The spa clientele at that time consisted entirely of the aristocracy, clergy and the rich urban people, scarcely the poor, and if the poor, only those from the nearby areas.


While the skin and rheumatic disorders were on the decline later, because of changes in the society e.g. during the 16 th century, digestive disorders were trending in the opposite direction (stomach, duodenum, small intestine, large bowel, big glands). The drinking therapy became something that was both needed and wanted. That is when people started to drink the mineral waters instead of using them for bathing purposes, e.g. in Karlovy Vary and other localities.


The importance of appropriate nutrition was promoted in the 19th century. Additional emphasis was being put on occupational diseases such as chronic mercury poisoning caused for example from manucfactoring the mirrors etc. the drinking cures has a beneficial effect on the water and mineral processing in the human body and it positively influences the patient´s metabolism (central organ is liver; gall bladder, pancreas). Some types of water caused improvement of in the condition of diabetic patients.


The bathing therapy is combined with taking the water and many other curative processes today. The modern concept of the complete treatment came after the II GW. A regimen which often combine the drinking therapy with nutritional and other procedures became increasingly popular ins ome spa places because of growing necessity to treat civilisation conditions. Many of them are locomotive apparatus disorders, related to the back, joints and muscles etc. Some new procedures became usual during a short period of time concerning treatment of woman diseases, gum diseases etc., etc.



Natural Curative Resources of Spa Treatment

  • Mineral Waters (including Thermal waters)
  • Gases ( s.c. spring gases, usually accompanyig mineral waters in volcanic-active areas)
  • Peloids i.e. inorganic b ogs a nd organi c humolit ie s ( peat bogs, swamps etc.)
  • Climatic conditions of a locality


There are 37 spa localities in the Czech Republic , ranging from the world known spas like Karlovy Vary , Marianske Lazne, Jáchymov to very small health resorts like Vráž, Bohdaneč, Klimkovice etc. Most of these health resorts are based on s.c. natural curative resources but 3 of them are based just on climatic conditions of their areas – climatotherapy spas like Jeseník, Karlova Studánka etc.




Physiological (or functional) effects of the MW


Case study of Karlovy Vary



  • Intestinal microflora (the presence of sulphates causes an increase in the concentration of bacteria in the small intestine, using sulphate to extract oxygen, which is changed by the bacteria to hydrogen sulphide. This bacteria also suppress the growth of those bacteria that produce methane. As a result of these processes, the circulation of certain substances between the internal environment and the intestines changes and this process ensures a stable level of these substances (e.g. bile acids and estrogens) in the blood.


  • Effects on the liver and biliary tract …Karlovy Vary mineral water causes an increase in the glycogen content in the liver, which is responsible for hepatic activity and the regulation of blood sugar level. The Karlovy Vary MW is a perfect bile stimulator. The sulphates are playing role again.


  • Pancreas – after the consumption fo MW the pancreas releases higher amounts of thinner gastric juices and increased amounts of digestive enzymes in general


  • Blood lipids levels - during the spa treatment using some types of MW (like KV) the levels of cholesterol and other lipids drop


  • Water and mineral management – increased supply of water (MW) to the body glands acts positively in tissues (but, to be honest - it is necessary to prevent e.g. swelling caused by higher Na + content in patients suffering from certain diseases etc.)


  • Total body response


Regular consumption of some MW improves digestion by promoting an easier and more synchronized digestive cycle, by altering the level of minerals in the blood and the stimulation of the excretion of digestive hormones


Stimulation of the upper digestive tract (stimulation of the secretion of the digestive and other glands) is caused by the volumes and the temperature of the water along with increased hydration.


In the stomach a chemical reactions occurs like reaction of bicarbonates with the hydrochloric acid which results in the production of free CO 2 . This CO 2 and e.g. Ca, Mg, Li, SO 4 etc. positivelly affects the mucous membranes of the stomach.


Further, the treatment results in changes to the microflora libving in the large bowel. These changes can be beneficial.



The amount of illness treated by using the natural curative sources is a huge one, in Karlovy Vary, the biggest health resort in the Europe, the treatment e.g. of the diseases of throat, stomach and duodenum; dyspepsia (irritation of stomach), peptic ulcer of the stomach, conditions after surgery of stomach and the lower throat, intestinal disorders, constipation (intestinal disfunctions), disorders of the gall bladder and the gallways, disorders of the pancreas, diabetes, lipid metabolism disorders, dental gum diseases, disorders of the kidney and the urinary tract etc., take place


4. Mineral Water Criteria


Mineral water is a water from springs or wells containing significant inorganic matter:


  • TDS (SM) > 1000 mg.l -1 or
  • Dissolved CO 2 (>1000 mg.l -1 ) or
  • Te mperature (> 20°C ) or
  • Radioactivity (>1 500 Bq.l -1 ) or
  • Content of some important particles - H 2 S (2 mg of S), Fe, As, I, F, H 2 SiO 4 (70 mg) etc.
  • Acceptable changes +/- 20%, resp.+/-30%






The Future of Health Resorts in the Czech Republic


Our task is an advanced spa treatment of high quality with the wholesome balneotherapeutical procedures.


Balneology is not a quantitative science, therefore it´s necessary to generate understanding of all the therapeutic, technical and natural-history principles playing the role in the spa treatment processes. The practical problems to be solved are next:


  • Preventive protection of NCR or NMW, connected e.g. with the determination of sustainable yield of some spring structures
  • The foundation of special department focused on NMW, spa hygiene with advisory, research a methodology activities


Další články z rubriky EXTRA:

Tajemství karlovarských pramenů Jak a proč se čerpají minerální vody?
Unfilterable “geoaerosols” Balneology
Rumbos modernos en balneología Balneología en el mundo