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Can Hot Sand Therapy Ease Symptom of Arthritis?

Remember the last time you were at the beach, basking in the golden afternoon sun as you wiggled your fingers in the sand? When you closed your eyes and drew in a long, deep breath, and exhaled all your stresses away? Somehow, in the comforting warmth of the shore, you could feel every tense muscle in your body completely relax, and your mind follow suit.

As it turns out, this physical and mental sensation isn’t exclusive to stressed out workers attempting to unwind on a beach vacation – Ancient Greeks discovered the soothing powers of sun-heated sand hundreds of years ago, using hot sand baths as a way to treat rheumatic and arthritic conditions in hands, feet, and even full body.

The first record of this traditional thermal treatment, known as psammotherapy (psammo is Greek for sand) can be traced back to the Siwa Oasis in Ancient Egypt. Performed as a form of medical treatment for muscular and arthritis pain, its benefits were noted by the 13th century Islamic physician Ibn al-Nafis. Healers and elders from Greece, Turkey, Morocco, and other desert locales would also use hot sand for therapeutic treatments. There is evidence that the Mayan Indians also knew about this amazing method.

At the end of the century before last, psammotherapy began to spread in Europe. In Dresden, Dr. Fleming opened the first psammotherapy clinic, which successfully treated various diseases of the joints. In 1889 Russia, the famous doctor Nikolai Vasilyevich Pariysky, wrote a work on the benefits of sand baths for healing and strengthening the body.

Today, hot sand therapy is beginning to gain popularity stateside. Psammotherapy is not only an indulgent experience, it also has purported health benefits. It is believed to help relieve musculoskeletal and arthritic pain, stimulate lymphatic flow and detoxify the body.

From the course of physics, it is known that sand is an excellent conductor of heat. When in contact with the skin, hot sand quickly and evenly warms the person, which leads to increased sweating and increased metabolism. In addition, the heated sand exerts mechanical pressure on the skin, massaging it and the underlying tissues, and the person relaxes, feeling a pleasant warmth. The constant absorption of sweat by the sand protects the patient from overheating, which makes it easy to transfer the procedure.

The psammotherapy procedure can be performed right on the beach (or in a room where pre-heated sand is used for this purpose). Dig a small hole, about 12 inches deep for your hands, elbows or full arm. Let the hole heat in the sun, be careful that the skin should also be warm in order to avoid the shock caused by the contact with the sand. Then lean the arm or hand in the hole and cover it with sand. Stay for about ten minutes.

It is possible to follow this treatment also for the whole body, but it is recommended that it take place in a professional setting with a certified therapist. Prior to self-treatment, even in the case of such a relatively safe procedure as psammotherapy, always get the recommendation of your doctor.


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