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Thalassotherapy and Its Usage in Health and Wellness Tourism

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Thalassotherapy and its usage in Health and Wellness Tourism
Park Jin Mun

Thalassotherapy, from the Greek thalasso meaning ‘sea’ and therapia meaning ‘treatment’, uses the healing and beneficial properties of the sea and the marine environment for health and wellbeing. The principle behind thalassotherapy is that repeated exposure to sea air and immersion in warm seawater, mud, clay, and protein-rich algae helps restore the body's natural chemical balance. Seawater and human plasma are very similar. When immersed in warm seawater the body absorbs the minerals it needs through the skin. Thalassotherapy has important meaning in contemporary Health and Wellness Tourism industry, due to its applicability to various fields, not only tourism but also medical and beauty. Thalassotherapy is originated in France, during 19th century, and Worldwide, there are many health resort medicine centers dedicated to Thalassotherapy, especially in countries with coasts in northern and southern Europe, North Africa, Japan and, of course, the Dead Sea area (Armijo and San Martín 1994; Bobet 1999;Halevy and Sukenik 1998; Lucchetta et al. 2007). In this paper, the author will introduce 3 aspects of usage of thalassotherapy, usage in beauty, medical and tourism.

In medical history, the concept of thalassotherapy casts back to approximately B.C. 400, by the book named “Ocean cures human disease” by Euripides. In 1791, Dr. John Latham established the first maritime hospital named ‘The Royal Sea-Bathing Infirmary’, east coast of England. In 1899, Dr. Louis Bagot established l'Institut Marin Rockroum de Roscoff in France. Dr. Bagot designed therapy using warmed sea water for Rheumatism patients to work out in. (Spa Life, 2006). In the study of Oxford Journals of Rheumatology; Spa treatment for primary fibromyalgia syndrome: a combination of thalassotherapy, exercise and patient education improves symptoms and quality of life, SPA subjects reported significant improvement in mental and physical component summary scores (Table 2) and on all subscales of the RAND-36 (data not shown). After 3 months, the differences between SPA and CTL were statistically significant for physical but not for mental health. After 6 and 12 months, no statistically significant differences between SPA and CTL were found.
Results of RAND-36 | | Change from baseline | RAND-36 components | Baseline value To | T = 1 month | T = 3 months | T = 6 months | T = 12 months | Physical component | | | | | | Spa | 28.6 (8.0) | 6.3 (8.2)* | 3.6 (8.8)** | 1.3 (9.6) | 2.6 (7.4) | Control | 27.8 (7.4) | – | 0.8 (6.7) | 0.5 (5.8) | 1.6 (7.8) | Mental component | | | | | | Spa | 45.7 (11.5) | 6.5 (10.2)* | 0.8 (11.2) | 0.2 (9.8) | −2.2 (11.1) | Control | 46.5 (10.2) | – | 1.2 (9.1) | 0.1 (11.4) | 0.5 (10.1) |

In another paper of Journal of Coastal Research, mentioned pharmaceutical effect of thalassotherapy that the medical and pharmaceutical value of marine products has of course been proved (Charlier, 2002; Gruber, 1968). Marine organisms produce chemical compounds—and over 6000unique compounds have been isolated with hundreds providing drug leads—with antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. The bryozoan Bugula neritina produces bryostatin-1, a potential anticancer agent, Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae, a soft bodied coral known popularly as the Caribbean sea whip, produces anti-inflammatory pseudopterosins (Arehart, 1969). The compounds found in this soft coral accentuate human skin healing processes and are used in skin care products (Bologa et al., 1999; Charlier, 1990; Charlier and Lonhienne, 1996; Woodcock and Blanchard, 1957). French and German pharmaceutical firms market vials of seawater tapped at 50 km offshore depths of up to 20 m. It is claimed that such waters when purified provide cures for gastric troubles. With a reduced salinity, the water remains nevertheless rich in magnesium and other oligo elements, free of chlorides, and closely resemble blood plasma. Bread, crackers, and pasta made using seawater are marketed in France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Some enthusiastic researchers ventured in 1998 that ‘‘marine sources could be the major source of new drugs for the next decade.’’ Coral reefs supply the structural components necessary to repair human bone. Unlike allograft bone, originating from a cadaver, grafts manufactured from coral do not carry the risk of implant rejection or of transmission of infectious agents such as HIV or hepatitis. (Roger H. Charlier and Marie-Claire P. Chaineux, 2009)

In beauty field, thalassotherapy normally engages with spa resorts, to bring customers relaxation and skin care services with the minerals seawater contains. In this field, not only seawater but seaweeds and muds can be applied for the purpose of extracting toxicants out of body and re-supplement of minerals. In Korea, there was a study of 7 hotels and resorts and 8 day-spa employing thalassotherapy by visiting there one-by one. Out of sample group, 4 out of 6 hotels or resort and 3 out of 8 day-spa conducts thalassotherapy. Normally there are 5 methods of treatment and engages with minerals re-supply by bathing or massage treatment with jet showers or mud.(Hong and Heo, 2006)

How can thalassotherapy applied in tourism and hospitality industry? The character of thalassotherapy which can be notified in the origin of the word Thallassa, only can be conducted seashore area. Every element includes atmosphere, climate, water, sand, and even wind, temperature and humidity is related with benefits of thalassotherapy. Recently, in Korea, top class hotels or aesthetic salons are introducing thalassotherapy nearby the location of vacation spots. Dead Sea is the good example of thalassotherapy helping tourism and hospitality industry. Thanks to its uniqueness of the lowest part of the earth and high salt rate so that no plants or animals can survive, but dragging tourist every year. In Japan, in accordance with the diminution of working hours in Japan, many Japanese will develop a tendency to consume time and travelling etc. Therefore, the concept of thalassotherapy (Hatano, 1989) can fit well to Japanese future life. Thalassotherapy is not only therapeutic, but also a broad healthy park industry. Some problems relating to their development should be cited, for example, polyhedral effect of thalassotherapy, all season resort style. (Nomura, 1991)

Is thalassotherapy simply a type of climatotherapy? , Francisco Maraver & Alfredo Michán & Carla Morer &Lourdes AguileraInt J Biometeorol (2011) 55:107–108DOI 10.1007/s00484-010-0382-5
Global Spa Market is Evolving 2006, March P.27 Spa-Life, 2006
The Healing Sea: A Sustainable Coastal Ocean Resource: Thalassotherapy Roger H. Charlier † and Marie-Claire P. Chaineux † Journal of Coastal Research, Vol. 25, No. 4, 2009
A survey of the role of thalassotherapy program in SPA Salon, Hong Ran-hi and Heo Eun-Young, Journal of the Korean Society of Fashion and Beauty Vol.4, No.1. 2006 pp.51~59
On the concept of thalassotherapy, Tarasoterapi,No2,4. Hatano, Y (1989)
Developmental Project of Thalassotherapy in the Japanese Coastal Area, Nomura Tadashi, volume 23/1991/EMECS’90

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