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2017.10.06 -Minerals in medicinal waters – which one is good for what?

Minerals in medicinal waters – which one is good for what?

Hungary is a medicinal water superpower, but not every well gives medicinal water even if the water comes from a great depth. Mineral or thermal water qualifies as medicinal water if its chemical composition is proven to have a curative effect, and this fact is attested by an official certificate. As different medicinal waters can have different chemical compositions, each type of medicinal water should only be used for treating the illness it is good for. 

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Simple hot water or thermal water which isn’t rich in minerals also has a healing effect, because having a bath in hot water reduces stress, and the physical effects of bathing – feeling weightless or the water’s pressure on one’s skin – are also beneficial.

However, the real medicinal effect is the result of the large quantity of minerals dissolved in water, which end up in the water from the rocks deep down in the ground, through which the water reaches the surface. Cold or hot medicinal waters can contain several grams of minerals per litre. These minerals exert their curative effect by being absorbed through the skin, but some medicinal waters need to be drunk or inhaled.     

General considerations

One shouldn’t expect an instant miracle from medicinal water treatment. One weekend of medicinal water use won’t bring full recovery, only a pleasantly relaxed state. Medicinal water treatment typically works best as an auxiliary treatment of illnesses that develop slowly, therefore one can’t hope that they will be cured from one day to another. Illnesses like this include locomotor diseases, articular diseases, gynaecological problems, circulatory and vascular diseases, neurological disorders and dermatological problems. The typical medicinal water cure is repeated many times a year and one cure consists of 10-15 occasions, as this is the only way to achieve some kind of positive effect.

Before the cure one must always consult their doctor, who will help to pick the right kind of medicinal water and perhaps write a referral, thanks to which the treatment might cost less. Those who don’t wish to consult a doctor before the cure should at least keep the fundamental rules that one mustn’t start a medicinal or thermal water treatment if they suffer from any kind of inflammation that causes them strong pain, if they have a high blood pressure or a hardening of the arteries, if they are after a heart attack, if they are pregnant or have a malignant tumour.    

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Chemicals and their effects

Let’s see what different medicinal water types are good for in treating illnesses and where can one find spas with these waters?

Sulphur water

(Harkány, Hévíz, Balf, the medicinal water of the Lukács and Rudas baths, Parádsasvár, Mezőkövesd)

Medicinal water that contains sulphur improves the sulphur balance of the body, drinking sulphur water is recommended if one’s stomach doesn’t produce enough gastric acid or if one suffers from gastritis. Sulphur water can also be used to treat gynaecological diseases, chronic inflammations and dermatological problems. Sulphur water can also be inhaled.   

Radon-rich water

(the Rudas and Gellért baths, Hévíz, Eger, Miskolctapolca)

Medicinal water that contains radon widens the blood vessels, it lowers blood pressure, fights the hardening of the arteries, and it is efficient against diabetes and arthritis. Radon is absorbed through the skin and it can also be inhaled, but a radon water cure mustn’t be longer than 3-4 weeks.  

Carbonated acidulous waters

(Balatonfüred, Csopak, Kékkút, Macorka, Répcelak, Mihályi)

They can make the stomach produce more gastric acid and soothe the nervous system. When one takes a bath in carbonated acidulous water, the carbon gas produces a micro-massage effect in the skin, by this widening the blood vessels, which results in an improvement of the skin’s blood supply and metabolism. Carbonated acidulous water mustn’t be used if the patient’s stomach produces too much gastric acid, they suffer from gastric ulcer or tympanites, or they have varicose veins. 

Alkaline water, Na, K, hydrogen-carbonate mineral waters

(Balf, Salvus water in Bükkszék, Fonyód, Csevice water in Parád, Anna spring water in Szeged, Békés, Gyopárosfürdő, Gyula)

Alkaline mineral water has a mucus dissolving and an antibilious effect, it reduces the stomach’s gastric acid production and speeds up the working of the cells. The mineral water mustn’t be used for treating patients with kidney stones or coli infection.

Soil- and lime-containing medicinal water, Ca, Mg, hydrogen-carbonate mineral waters

(Budapest, Balatonfüred, Kékkút, Székesfehérvár, the Ágnes spring in Moha and the Szent István spring in Parád, Bükkfürdő, Hegykő, Csopak)

Medicinal water that contains soil and lime has a general anti-inflammatory effect, it is perfect for treating osteoporosis, and can also be used for locomotor diseases and gynaecological diseases. Thanks to its diuretic effect, it can help kidney stones and sand exit from the kidney. The mineral water mustn’t be used for treating patients suffering from constipation.  

Salty medicinal water

(spas in the Great Hungarian Plain, Parád, Sárvár, Pestszenterzsébet, Cserkeszőlő, Debrecen, Eger, Gyopáros, the salt lake in Nyíregyháza, Tamási)

Salty medicinal water has a mucus dissolving effect, it makes the stomach produce more gastric acid, and it is recommended to be used for treating locomotor disorders and chronic gynaecological diseases. Salty medicinal water strengthens the immune system when one has psoriasis. The medicinal water mustn’t be used for treating patients suffering from a high blood pressure or oedema.  

Bitter salty medicinal water

 (Alag, Tiszajenő - Mira water, Hunyadi János water, Nagyigmánd water, Apenta mineral water, Ferenc József bitter water)

Bitter salty medicinal water is recommended for treating patients with gastritis, intestinal catarrh and bilious complaints. This type of water makes the gallbladder contract more often and bile is extracted more frequently, thanks to which the gallbladder works better. Bitter salty medicinal water has a strong purgative effect. The medicinal water mustn’t be used for treating patients suffering from gastric ulcer, hypoacidity, vomiting and diarrhoea.     

Iron-rich medicinal water

(the Clarissa spring and the István spring in Parád, the Stefánia spring in Moha)

Medicinal water containing iron is perfect for treating anaemia and it is also recommended for curing gynaecological diseases. 

Iodine and bromine medicinal water

(Sóshartyán Iodine Aqua, medicinal waters of Pesterzsébet, Bükkszék, Hajdúszoboszló, Debrecen, Karcag, Berekfürdő, Kecskemét, Eger, Cegléd)

Iodine is also absorbed through the skin. Medicinal water that contains iodine and bromine can be used in treating a thyroid condition resulting from the lack of iodine, high blood pressure, in preventing the hardening of the arteries, treating menopause and menstruation problems, prostatitis, an inflammation of the digestive system, and for increasing the activity of the gallbladder and the pancreas. Iodine and bromine medicinal water reduces the uric acid and the blood sugar level, and it is good for treating psoriasis and arthritis in the hands and feet.