Thalassotherapy is the therapeutic use of the ocean, its climate, and marine products like algae, seaweed, and alluvial mud. The name comes from the Greek words thalassa ("the sea") and therap ("treat").
The principle behind thalassotherapy is that repeated exposure to sea air and immersion in warm seawater, mud, clay, and protein-rich algae helps restore the body's natural chemical balance. Seawater and human plasma are very similar. When immersed in warm seawater the body absorbs the minerals it needs through the skin.
What You Need to Know About Thalassotherapy
- There are about 100 thalassotherapy spas in the world, most of them in Europe and Africa. Thalassotherapy was pioneered in France in the early 1900s, and it still has more thalassotherapy spas than any other country.
- Modern thalassotherapy centers are located by the ocean and have complex facilities, including pools of varying depths and temperatures for various purposes. The seawater comes from a depth of 40 feet so there is no surface pollution. It also comes from some distance from shore.
- You get a benefit from warm seawater that you don't get from swimming in cold seawater. The main component of seawater is sodium choride (salt), but it is also rich in minerals and trace elements. Immersion in warm seawater allows those minerals to pass through the skin.
- Thalassotherapy never took off in the United States so you can't find the same complex thalassotherapy facilities of Europe. Gurney's Inn & Spa in Montauk, New York is the closest thing to a thalassotherapy spa in America.
- If you're at a spa by the ocean, you can still get thalassotherapy benefits by walking on the beach, breathing the sea air, or getting a seaside massage. And seaweed wraps are a classic thalassotherapy treatment available at most spas.