Seaweed bathing: Thalassotherapy at home

by Gab Abell

                              seaweed bathing

 

 

bring nature indoors

“The sea cures all ailments of man.” – Plato
Water is the basis of all life and humans have always turned to water for its healing purposes. Thalassotherapy originated in Ancient Greece - roughly translating to ‘sea healing/therapy’. It utilises seawater, seaweed or seamud to bring about positive effects on the body. You have to agree that being near or in seawater brings about a sense of relaxation, rejuvenation & regeneration. Thalassotherapy has been around for eons, from ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Polynesians and Egyptians to its resurgence in Ireland, Germany & France in the 17th century.
An easy way to practice thalassotherapy is to indulge in a seaweed bath (trust me on this one). Seaweed is densely nutritious- brimming with antioxidants, iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C & potassium. Just as hormones, nicotine and pain relievers can be delivered to our system via patches, creams and gels- so can nutrients. Meaning a seaweed bath is just as nourishing physically as it is mentally. Thanks to its demulcent properties seaweed is also fantastic for soothing dry, itchy and inflamed skin. Symbolically, seaweed is used in Japanese Shinto religion as an agent for purification & protection.

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                    Photograph: Samantha Digiacomo by Pablo Costanzo

 

How to:
 
  1. The best way to enjoy a seaweed bath is collected fresh off an unpolluted beach (3-4 good handfuls) . Thick, rubbery strands of kelp have the best mucilage/moisturising potteries (ie. the slimier the better). If you can’t access a beach, try organic dried wakame (usually available at health food shops).
  2. Rinse seaweed in cold water to remove sand
  3. Put seaweed in bath & fill with hot water. Wait for bath to cool slightly.
  4. Soak for at least 20 minutes
 
happy bathing

 

 

Sources:

Charlier, R. H., & Chaineux, M. C. P. (2009). The healing sea: A sustainable coastal ocean resource: Thalassotherapy. Journal of Coastal Research, 838-856.

Herbal manufacturing: how to make medicines from plants- Jenny Adams & Eleanor Tan

Kurokura, H. (2004). The importance of seaweeds and shellfishes in Japan: Present status and history. BULLETIN-FISHERIES RESEARCH AGENCY JAPAN, 1-4.

Lucchetta, M. C., Monaco, G., Valenzi, V. I., Russo, M. V., Campanella, J., Nocchi, S., & Fraioli, A. (2007). The historical-scientific foundations of thalassotherapy: state of the art. La Clinica Terapeutica158(6), 533-541. 

Westby, T., Cadogan, A., & Duignan, G. (2018). In vivo uptake of iodine from a Fucus serratus Linnaeus seaweed bath: does volatile iodine contribute?. Environmental geochemistry and health40(2), 683-691.