The Sea -- A Story of Love, Adventure and Healing
It's here again -- time for annual New Year's resolutions. Most of us use this opportunity to try to make BIG changes -- like quitting a bad habit or initiating a positive behavioral pattern. As a naturopathic physician, my resolutions have always been health related. No major promises this year which stress me out in my attempts to comply. In 2002, I just intend to take greater advantage of a health-promoting opportunity in plentiful supply in our island environment -- the Pacific Ocean.
The physical and spiritual appeal of water has attracted the infirm and weary throughout history. There is even a special word for the use of seawater in health restoration and maintenance -- "thalassotherapy," which was first written about by Hippocrates. Thalassotherapy comes from the Greek "thalassa" meaning water and "therapia" meaning to heal. The Greeks soaked in sea water hot tubs and heated seaweed baths, drank and inhaled sea water for health, got sea water massages, had sea green facials and body wraps, and used sea water pools for hydrotherapy and elimination of toxins from the body. In modern upscale spas and resorts the sea is used to reduce tension and stress, detoxify the skin and improve circulation, speed weight loss and cellulite control, and even ease menopausal discomforts.
The ocean is therapeutic and a boundless reservoir of health. It contains all the vital elements: vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements, amino acids and living microorganisms which secrete antibiotic, bacteriostatic and hormonal substances with biological balancing effects. These substances are easily assimilated by our bodies during sea bathing. An interesting fact is that seawater has a similar composition as our blood plasma.
You don't have to get wet to have the ocean work its healing magic. The gas molecules in the ocean mist create a genuine spray rich in iodine, which helps regulate the thyroid gland. The spray is also loaded with negative ions. Negatives ions strengthen the body's immunological defense mechanisms. This mist of extremely small molecules enters the body through the respiratory system, where they attach to the walls of the lungs for distribution throughout the body.
Direct contact with ocean water is even more therapeutic. Bathing in seawater acts directly on chronic disorders, helping one overcome ailments, aches and pains. Cool seawater calms down overwrought nerves, tranquilizing the whole body. It also tones up the body, making it more resilient. Warm seawater, during our summer months, improves the circulation and relaxes muscles.
Seawater baths open the pores and help eliminate toxins from the body. Swimming and wading brings our bodies in contact with the sea's pulsating and massaging waves, its rare minerals, and dissolved gases.