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A curative mud bath (photo: Druskininkai Municipality)

‘Dirty spa’ experiences grow in popularity

Therapeutic muds used in health and wellness treatments in the Lithuanian spa town of Druskininkai rival the Dead Sea, locals say.

Therapeutic mud is in the spotlight of Europe’s spa trends, especially in the Baltic nation of Lithuania where the spa town Druskininkai offers locally well-known traditions in its curative mud spas.

The resort is hoping to capitalise on the world’s searches for natural ways to restore and sustain health, with balneotherapy – the therapy of bathing – and therapeutic mud procedures becoming increasingly popular among visitors.

Visitors to its medical spas – facilities that combine relaxation and accommodation with rehabilitation – wallow in muddy situations such as mud baths and galvanic (warm) mud procedures.

The spa hotels of Druskininkai, which is located just over 100 kilometres from the capital Vilnius, are marketing their techniques as an alternative to the Dead Sea in Israel and the mud baths of California.

Surrounded by pine forests, Druskininkai first became a recognised wellness town in 1835, when Lithuania was part of tsarist Russia, and the chemical composition of its mineral waters and muds was researched and recognised for its curative properties.

Lake sludge
Today, more than ten spas in the town offer procedures that use local mud, including unique ‘lake sludge’ white mud applications and massages that stimulate beauty and health.

“Mud, in combination with mineral water, has been used in health promotion for centuries. Until it is extracted, mud accumulates heat, which is then slowly released during the procedures,” explains Dr Arvydas Balčius, director for medicine at the Eglės Sanatorija medical spa.

“Depending on the source of the mud, it can consist of particles similar to hormones found in the human body or in vitamins – this is where the wide range of its healing properties come from.” 

Nowadays, medicinal mud is used for example in pads as a treatment for periodontal disease or gynaecological treatment for infertility and other conditions.

Name your condition
While mud is well known for its exfoliating and cleansing effect on the skin – both mud and clay are used to treat acne and skin inflammation – new research says this natural resource can be included in medical routines for patients with a wide range of diseases and those who are looking to improve their overall wellbeing.

Specialists are recommending mud applications to relieve symptoms in conditions ranging from bones and muscle problems to digestive disorders to post-traumas, burns and pains, while mud wraps are believed to accelerate weight loss.

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