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Mud Bath

Dr Vivian Oputa


I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what a mud bath is. It happens to be one of the most popular treatments in European Spas. Mud baths originated hundreds of years ago in Europe and has also been a popular treatment for centuries among Native Americans. In the 1940’s and 50’s mud baths were mainly sought after by elderly individuals seeking relief form rheumatism and arthritis.

In the 1970’s mud baths became popular to help reduce stress, relax and rejuvenate.
Moor Mud or Peat is usually harvested deep below the surface of the earth and contains more volcanic ash than typical clay. Most plant matter is dead or inorganic in the mud. Good quality peat is usually located deep in swamps where contaminants and pollutants have not reached. The peat used for treatments is dug below ground water level. Note that new peat is formed and replaced faster than it is harvested. There are two types of peat namely moss peat and sedge peat. A mixture of both is usually used for treatments. The sedge peat is thought to be beneficial for curing rheumatoid arthritis and the moss peat is thought to have hormonal effects useful for treating hormone imbalances in women.

mudThe mud helps to detoxify the body which is constantly attacked by toxins in the environment and toxic substances in food and beverage. Much of these toxins are not metabolized nor excreted properly due to overwhelming exposure, extreme stress and a weakened immune system and state of health.
As a result, these toxins are stored in the body and the layers of fat.
This toxic build up without regular detoxification burdens the body with accummulated chemicals which in turn disrupt the biological processes.

Regular removal of toxins from the body (detoxification) is essential as a high toxin load can cause several illnesses, skin problems ranging from rashes to blemishes, low energy levels, impaired memory, chronic pain and even cancer. The detoxification process must be accomplished properly and not rushed as mobilized toxins can enter the bloodstream and move to other parts of the body where they can prove to be more dangerous. A good gradual detoxification process is the use of a hot bath.

The addition of Moor mud to the hot bath intensifies the detoxification process. It promotes sweating and thus mobilizes toxins out of the body. The mud contains a high level of humic or fulvic acid which penetrates the skin and acts as a chelating agent. Chelating agents bind to heavy metals and toxins promoting removal from body tissues. Fulvic acid has been shown to be one of the most efficient transporters of nutrients into cells and improves enzymatic processes within the cell structure.

The Moor mud bath has been used for over 200 years to help cleanse the body of toxic waste build-up, to help relieve pain, for the treatment of gout and skin conditions and in post surgical rehabilitation.
The ability of the mud to interact with the body to deliver nutrients and anti-inflammatory elements, to increase blood circulation, immune function and metabolism in addition to its ability to rejuvenate body tissue is responsible for its popularity.

Moor mud is usually available as a fine paste which easily dissolves in water without any danger of clogging the plumbing of a regualr bathtub. It is also available as an extract for use in jacuzzi/whirl-pool baths.
A mud bath popular in Calistoga, the United States combines volcanic ash, peat and natural boiling hot springs water. This combination is designed for maximum heat penetration and buoyancy.
The mud is very thick in consistency and is sterilised between treatments. The volcanic ash cleanses and smooths the skin and the peat buoys you up to allow the mineral water’s soothing heat to penetrate more deeply. Some spas add essential oils to the mixture.

The treatment typically lasts 10 to 12 minutes followed by a warm, cleansing mineral water shower.
To maximize results, this may be followed by a bubbling, aromatic mineral bath to soothe the body and help the individual further unwind. The ultimate experience is followed by a mineral or eucalyptus steam bath and blanket wrap for a gradual cool down and nap.

A “healing crisis” may be experienced after a mud bath because of the detoxification properties of peat. A mud bath should not be taken more often than every other day as every day may be too detoxifying. Peat makes you retain heat so during and after the bath, sweating occurs. The increased blood flow to the skin may cause a flushed appearance in light skinned individuals due to the reatly improved circulation. A doctor should be consulted before taking a mud bath especially in cases of hypertension, heart disease and early pregnancy. A local poultice may be applied over affected areas in such individuals who are usually advised to avoid complete immersion. Some hypertensive and cardiac patients in Europe under a doctor’s supervision are allowed to take complete baths while placing an ice pack over the heart area. I however do not recommend this practice. The mud is also useful as a facial mask, poultice wrap or foot bath.
Most people feel significantly different within 20 minutes to 24 hours after the bath and usually become hooked thereafter.

Dear Dr. Oputa,
I eat a relatively balanced diet. I would like to know if taking Vitamins is necessary since I eat properly.

Patricia from Ikoyi Lagos

Dear Patricia, No matter how balanced your diet may be, Vitamin supplements are very important because you cannot get all your required daily nutrients from food alone. A lot of nutrients are lost during the cooking or preparation processes so supplementation is important. Organic vitamins are a preferred choice over synthetic ones.


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