Health Benefits of the Hot Springs: Part 1

In May of 2011 we opened the Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs. Over time the minerals have accumulated on the sides of the pools and built travertine in the creek. The mineral makeup of the hot water, it’s mineral suspension and precipitation never ceases to amaze us, and from the maintenance perspective, never ceases to baffle us.

What about these minerals?

Guests commonly ask, “what minerals do these springs contain and at what levels”. We have posted the mineral levels on the website and out by the pools. Every hot spring around the world is different. My goal for this blog was to answer a bigger question, “how do the minerals affect us when we soak in the hot springs”. Hoping to find an easy answer I opened up Google. Ha! This is not a topic for an immediate gratification junkie. The answers don’t lie in hard science, so the topic grows larger and more questions reveal themselves. And suddenly I don’t know where to begin and what to write. I researched absorption through skin, learned about Balneonology, spoke to repeat guests and called on my brother for a Geology lesson. That is why this post is “Part 1”. I realize I have only touched the surface.

One main inspiration for this research is a testimonial from a repeat guest and loyal advocate for the waters at Avalanche Ranch. 8 years ago Garth was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Since 2012 he loyally visits Avalanche Ranch every year and says he would love to move into #15 and reside here! The only place he is pain free is in our Hot Springs and 2-3 hours following each soak. He has tried other hot springs but without the same result. He claims that the Lithium in the water alleviates his pain and the minimal odor from sulphur enhances the experience.

What I have gleaned from my research is that there is no hard science behind absorption of minerals through the skin, but there are so many testimonials similar to Garth’s. The effectiveness of soaking in hot springs to cure ailments is, by scientific measure, yet to be proven. From the directive of testimonials, human history and inference however, hot springs are proven to alleviate pain, stress, skin diseases, increase circulation, lower blood pressure and heighten mood. There is suggestive evidence that the heat in partnership with the pressure of the water mollifies our pain by blocking the pain receptors in our body.

“Balneotherapy” is a new word on my tongue, and I struggle to pronounce it. But it is an intuitive treatment throughout human history (and throughout my family history, I grew up in a house with only a bathtub, no shower). Balneotherapy is the act of treating health problems by bathing, usually in hot springs or other naturally mineral-rich water. It is thought to promote healing by increasing circulation, encouraging detox and easing stress.

I am not undone by the lack of hard-scientific evidence for the treatment of ailments by mineral rich waters. I do not need the formulaic proof of controlled trials. I stand by the testament of Garth and so many other happy guests that frequent Avalanche Ranch! And Let it be known there will be more to come on this topic!