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2017.11.24 - Can medicinal thermal water cure digestive problems?

Can medicinal thermal water cure digestive problems?

The story of Budapest mineral waters is very interesting and their curative effect is an even bigger treasure than the cultural value that they represent. Medicinal thermal waters that spring from the ground have often been utilised by building both baths and bottling plants, and in these spas we can’t only take baths but also drink water from the wells located in the buildings. At the same time there are medicinal thermal waters in Budapest which are only used for drinking purposes. Waters such as Margitszigeti Kristályvíz, Gellérthegyi Kristályvíz, Hunyadi János bitter water, Ferencz József bitter water and Apenta bitter water have been bottled since the 19th century. These waters soon became world famous and because their curative effect is produced if they are used for drink cures, they are most often consumed in order to treat digestive diseases.  


Diseases of the digestive organs and of metabolism often manifest together, in a complex fashion, therefore it is very difficult to name one single reason why they have developed, let alone finding a single solution to the problem. Thanks to their high mineral content, medicinal thermal waters can efficiently catalyse digestive processes, by this solving the problems caused by too slow or inadequate digestion. What is more, these waters aren’t only good for treating a disease or condition, because they have a complex effect on the human body due to the innumerable micro- and macroelements in them. At the moment the relationship between stress and digestion is still an uncharted territory in physiology, but more and more signs indicate that the general condition of a person is reflected in their intestines, which contain the most neurons after the brain – even more than the spinal cord!         

The effect of bitter waters

One of the best-known and most unpleasant digestive problems is constipation. Different types of bitter water can be used to treat constipation. Ferencz József bitter water and Hunyadi János bitter water contain sodium sulphate and magnesium sulphate. During the process of osmosis, sulphate ions absorb water from the wall of the intestinal canal, by this loosening and softening hard stool, making it easier for the patient to defecate. The process is made easier by the reduction of sulphur containing compounds in the medicinal thermal water, in the course of which hydrogen sulphides are formed, which have further beneficial effect on the working of the intestines. It is needless to say that one must pay attention to how much bitter water they drink, as 100-200ml is enough to ease constipation pain, but more than 200-300ml can already cause diarrhoea.         

Bitter waters have other effects too. By stimulating the intestines they can cleanse the bowels from various sediments and help the detoxification process, ending catarrhal symptoms.

Margitszigeti ivókút

The effect of sulphur waters

Another large group of digestive problems results from the faulty working of the stomach. If the stomach produces too much or too little gastric acid, the patient feels discomfort and in the long run more serious problems may occur. One might feel that they had too much to eat or suffer from bloating or acid reflux – all of these symptoms are very uncomfortable. It is interesting that sulphur waters are good for treating both high and low stomach acid, depending on whether the water is consumed before or during eating. Less gastric acid is produced if a patient drinks sulphur-containing water two hours before a meal, while if they drink it during the meal, the stomach produces more gastric acid. It is very important to ask for professional advice from a doctor before one starts drinking sulphur water regularly!      

Sulphur waters can also play an important role in preventing gallbladder diseases, because shortly after having drunk them they make the gallbladder remove its contents, by this reducing the risk of diseases such as gallstones, which result from the low functioning of the gallbladder.