In the Italian thermal tradition, and not only, mud application is one of the best known and fascinating therapies.
Thermal mud is a combination of clay, thermal water (bromo-iodine-salt water) and micro-organisms. The mud therapy has four steps: application of thermal mud (about 15 min.), spa water bath (about 12 min.), sweat reaction (30/40 min. under the blanket) and tonifying massage.
The application of thermal mud packs represents a widely spread treatment method for rheumatic complaints which are not in the acute phase, thanks to the recognised effectiveness in solving painful symptoms and for limiting the inflammatory reaction that accompanies the damaging process to the cartilage. It is a natural treatment that helps also those suffering from joint diseases like arthrosis and osteoporosis.
The “Pietro d’Abano” Spa Study Centre carefully studies the main components of the spa waters and carries out systematic research into spa medicine and the effects of mud therapy, to guarantee total quality in the therapies carried out and their scientific and therapeutic values.
WHAT IT IS
The curative mud of the Terme Euganee is a compound made up of a solid part of clay mixed with a micro-biological component, both of them dissolved in salt-bromine-iodine lithia water. This compound is the result of a maturation process, which lasts 60 days and occurs inside special tanks in which thermal water constantly flows. In this way, through a natural process, microalgae develop, giving mud a specific physical-chemical component and its therapeutic characteristics.
The mud only has an external application, meaning that it is spread on the body to take advantage of a direct effect. These treatment cycles are carried out on an empty stomach in a single cabin used also for the reaction process; at the Euganean spa, the patient has his/her sweating reaction in his/her own room because each hotel is provided with its own thermal department.
The mud therapy session (it could be better to define it as bath mud therapy) is comprised of 4 therapeutic moments:
1. Smearing: warm mud is applied onto the skin with a layer about 5-10 cm thick and it is kept for about 20 minutes. Mud can be applied on the entire body (the head, the front area of the neck and chest are free as well as the genital areas and often one arm), on “half body” or on one or more limbs.
2. Thermal bath: after the mud application, there is a short rinsing shower with thermal water and then the patient is immersed in a bath of thermal water at a temperature of 37°-38°C for about 10/15 minutes.
3. Sweating reaction: after the bath, the person is dried off with warm towels and then placed in a bed while well wrapped to facilitate the “reaction” brought on by bath mud therapy; this reaction lasts at least a half hour to an hour.
4. Massage with a toning action: it is the last part of the session and it helps relax the muscles while relieving any nervous tension.
It is essential to follow all the phases to guarantee the efficiency of mud bath therapy.
These mud applications must be repeated daily for twelve days with a one day break (different options can be prescribed by the thermal doctor).
Before the study by Punzi and Cozzi (University of Padua) and the scientific works published in 2003 by “Piero d’Abano” Studies Centre, people thought that the benefits of mud therapy were only a consequence of the application of heat on the joints. Instead, in the above-mentioned work, researchers demonstrated that the applications of mud and thermal water have an anti-inflammatory effect, causing a significant improvement in the studied patients with a persistence of results for the following six months, also meaning a reduction in the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
TO WHOM IT IS RECOMMENDED
Mud bath therapy is recommended to those who suffer from arthrosis and osteoporosis. All arthro-rheumatic inflammatory and degenerative formshave a benefit from treatments. The benefit these therapies can obtain generalized extra articular and localized rheumatisms (such as fiber myalgia, muscular rheumatism, periarthritis of the shoulder, bursitis, aponeurositis and fasciitis) is particularly interesting.
Application of the muds requires substantially adequate cardiocirculatory and renal function. If this is not the case, partial applications can be used to limit the impact on the body. Fangotherapy is contraindicated for patients with cardiac disorders such as ischemic cardiopathy, severe cerebral and peripheral vasculopathy and nephropathies with kidney failure. Other contraindications are: tuberculosis, acute phases of inflammatory diseases, epilepsy, hyperthyroidism and malignant tumors. Moreover, the thermal muds must not be applied on varicose veins of the lower limbs, particularly if aggravated by complications such as phlebitis and ulcers, nor in pregnancy and during the first few days of the menstrual cycle. There are no contraindications for application of the muds in cases of metal articular prostheses, nor for screwed osteosynthesis plates.