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Kono Ha No Yu " Balneotherapy"

How I keep fit and in a clear state of mind is by soaking in natural hot springs. Of course exercise and good diet are essential too. In North America, if you do a little research, there are tons of natural hot springs all over the place. Hot springs are very therapeutic and can aid in weight loss if done on a regular basis. Even sitting in a hot bath at home can increase blood circulation naturally, which in turn makes you perspire while expanding your blood vessels. As a result, you get increased blood flow. If you do a little calisthenics,...i.e. moving your arms and legs while sitting in a bath this will aid in burning excess calories. The neat thing is that anybody can do this, even injured people. In fact it is highly recommended by some health care professionals. The below excerpts are of my experiences with balneotherapy, and my overseas work in discovering natural hotsprings.

This onsen, Konoha, doesn't appeal much to Westerners because it looks old, but it does to Japanese people, and myself. Last photo you can see the natural carbonated bubbles on my skin. Perhaps the intense I have ever seen. No micro jets either. Just naturally carbonated water. I think this is one of the finest onsen in Oita Prefecture, mainly because of its water content.

Naturally occurring carbonated water is the most traditional of therapeutic methods.  Since ancient times this method of therapy has been repudiated for healing a myriad of diseases and skin disorders, but how much of this is real science…? H.D. Hentschel writes in his review of the history of carbonated water, that a sensation of warmth in CO2 baths and flushing of the skin in the bathed areas of the body; and in 1911 Goldscheider discussed the possibility that flushing of the skin arising from sensory stimulation by carbon dioxide may be due to vasomotion” – all that means is that the blood vessels expand and contract more frequently.

Immediately what one notices, at least I did, is when you immerse your yourself into a carbonated bath you can see a lot of tiny little bubbles surface up on your skin. I personally freaked out when I saw this for the first time. There’s also a flushing of the skin which is caused by a rise in the elasticity of the red blood cells that had been depressed in the affected areas. Now, these are merely the affects of not only I, but what many of Japanese have noticed that''s why this method of relaxation has been so popular over the centuries not only in Japan but all over the world.

As for the real benefits of doing balneotherapy (carbonated bathing) two things are immediately understood by the medical community ; autonomic nervous system therapy ( nerves associated with organs outside of our control…e.g. nerves that control involuntary organ movement, like the heart muscle for example). Another benefit is with venous blood flow disorders. There are a myriad of other skin disorders that this form a therapy treat. This is not a pseudo-science. It’s been around for 120 years, and has recently become a very firmly grounded Natural science, especially with it’s use in the treatment of cardiac and peripheral vascular disorders. There are no natural remedies that can make up for the broad ranging benefits of balneotherapy. All we''re talking about is water with carbon  bubbles  that not only treat the body, but aides in its healing process.

Living here in Japan, a land blessed with thousands of hot springs, one can really enjoy this form of therapy and respite. As a matter of fact, I just got back from a super sento(public bath) that features a carbonated bath. Although, it was artificially made and heated the same benefits can be had. Now, in Kanagawa where I live there’re quit a few of these types of baths. I’d like to recommend Yunoichi of Fujisawa City in Kanagawa Prefecture, there’re others, but this one I think is the best ! It’s 550 yen Monday to Friday and 650 yen on weekends. . Fujisawa station can be accessed via the Tokaido line and then from the station you can take the free jumbo shuttle straight to this super sento. Phone number is : 0466-26-2614.

Furthermore, carbonated bath water is good for the skin and aides in reduction of wrinkles and stretch marks. My very first experience in one of these baths was several years ago when I was travelling through the countryside with friends. An elderly person had recommended I try one of these baths, so I reluctantly I did. I just didn''t like the sight of bubbles forming on my skin which was the reason for my initial response, but soon after I came to love and enjoy carbonated baths. Many of the elder folks would say that a strange sensation of warmth would come over their body after every dip in one of these springs. I too noticed this sensation which again is attributed to the expansion of red blood cells, in my opinion. I''m not a doctor.

On a final note, there are a plethora of artificially heated and produced carbonated and naturally occurring carbonated baths all over Japan. One area in Japan that would be note worthy would be in Oita Prefecture which is blessed with an abundance of carbonated springs due to the geological nature of the area. Japan has many volcanoes and as a result this country replete with a numerous amount of hot springs.

 Biography: I have been to 12 countries on 3 continents. I have spent most of my time travelling through-out Japan as a travel journalist. I have been to over 200 hot springs, not including hot springs in Turkey, but in Taiwan, as well. I am a travel counselor for one of Japan''s largest home stay and study abroad companies.

I have published two books, one on hot springs and the other on Japanese food and sake which can be seen on my site called: There you can see excerpts from my many observations and travels. Cheers !


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