Scientists suggest therapeutic bathing to treat atopic dermatitis

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(Natural News) The next time your skin feels itchy, you might want to take a bath first: Researchers from Yonsei University in South Korea suggest bathing in spring water is a safe way to treat symptoms of atopic dermatitis. The study, which appeared in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, evaluated the benefits of balneotherapy in high-concentration mineral spring water on redox balance and immune modulation using an atopic dermatitis mouse model induced with 2,4-dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB).

Balneotherapy, for the uninitiated, is the practice of bathing in spring water for therapeutic effects. In some countries in Europe, the practice is prescribed to treat skin conditions such as acne, AD, and psoriasis. The water used for balneotherapy comes from different natural spring sources and is classified depending on its mineral content. Earlier studies have shown that mineral water high in minerals such as sulfur, manganese, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and strontium has a beneficial effect on skin diseases, as demonstrated by DNCB-treated animal models. A separate study from Japan also concluded that balneotherapy can improve the immune system and its antioxidant mechanism. However, the effects of bathing in mineral-rich spring water are poorly studied, prompting researchers to understand how balneotherapy using spring water with complex minerals can impact symptoms of skin inflammation.

For this study, the researchers applied DNCB on the dorsal skin of hairless mice to mimic the effects of atopic dermatitis. The mice were then treated with either pure high mineral spring water or a diluted solution of high mineral spring water and distilled water. The treatments ran once daily for four weeks. During this time, researchers evaluated the severity of skin lesions for each group, as well as their scratching behavior. Pro-inflammation biomarkers for atopic dermatitis, as well as immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels, were also measured. In addition, oxidative stress-related biomarkers and antioxidant activity were also assessed.


The findings revealed that balneotherapy, whether using pure or diluted high mineral spring water, was able to reduce the scratching behavior in mice, which indicated its ability to reduce persistent itchiness – a hallmark symptom of atopic dermatitis. Mice treated with pure spring water recovered faster at two weeks, while those treated with diluted spring water took four weeks before their symptoms improved.

Similar trends were seen in other tests, as both treatments reduced all inflammation-related biomarkers. Mice in the diluted water group exhibited a significant decrease in IgE levels, an indication that bathing can have an immunomodulating effect. Meanwhile, those treated with pure spring water showed lower levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which meant that the water has a more potent antioxidant activity.

“Collectively, our study indicates that bathing with HMW ameliorates DNCB-induced skin inflammation by inhibiting the allergic response (such as serum IgE level and scratching behavior), inflammatory response (such as inflammatory cytokines; IL-1?, TNF-?, and IL-13) in female skh-1 hairless mice,” the researchers concluded in their study. “Taken together, results importantly imply that bathing with HMW might be a safe alternative, a non-medicinal remedy against [atopic dermatitis].” (Related: Forest Bathing: A New Way to Reduce Stress and Lower Blood Pressure by as much as 13%.)

Other health benefits from balneotherapy

Balneotherapy isn’t a new trend: It’s been practiced in many medical systems for thousands of years. These days, the procedure is often offered in spas, wellness centers, and natural hot springs. The latter, of course, is linked to better immune health as well as the prevention of certain diseases. Here are some conditions where balneotherapy could help with.

  • Arthritis – Multiple studies have found evidence that balneotherapy could be used to help treat rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Fibromyalgia – One study has shown that regular 20-minute bathing sessions greatly improved some symptoms of fibromyalgia. This included depression, which is a major symptom.
  • Lower back pain – Bathing in sulfur-rich mineral water can help with back pain, according to a study from Research in Complementary and Natural Classical Medicine. For the study, patients reported improvements in muscle spasms, tenderness, and flexibility.

Find more natural ways to relieve atopic dermatitis by following today.

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