|The Waters of Alameda's and Hot Springs, Montana|
Hot Springs, Montana is home to many “primary springs” - in which the water escaping the spring has been heated far below the earth’s surface (measured in hundreds, and thousands, of feet) by magma chambers. For every 50 to 100 feet of depth, the water temperature rises one degree Fahrenheit.
Special Water Analysis
Much cooler by comparison, the water in “filtration springs” rises very slowly from a shallow depth. Both types are valuable - filtration spring water is more often ingested, while primary spring water is used for immersion. In Hot Springs, the practice of “going for a soak” in our primary springs is a ritual for locals and visitors seeking the many benefits of our particular waters.
These benefits are the backbone of “balneotherapy”, defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “the branch of medical science concerned with the therapeutic value of baths, especially those taken with natural mineral waters”. Balneotherapy as a field of study is truly ancient and has been an accepted part of education in medical schools worldwide, particularly in Europe and Asia. The practice has thrived most in regions where ample water sources exist.
The tradition of soaking in mineral waters for health goes back to pre-history and was celebrated by the early Greeks Homer, Hippocrates, and Asclepiades. Early Romans saw to it that their eventual empire included a network of thermal (hot) and mineral springs that extended from Bath and Epson in England through France, Italy, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The Japanese have enjoyed spring water treatments since 700 b.c.
In the US, the use of mineral springs, for health as well as for recreation, peaked in the first half of the 20th century, bringing popularity to destination spa towns like Saratoga Springs, NY and Hot Springs, AK. As the medical establishment developed more convenient treatments than “taking the waters”, the popularity of the spa vacation waned. However, a resurgence of interest in alternative medicene in recent decades has resulted in an upswing in the use of mineral springs in the US, as well as a wealth of new indications that taking the waters carries real weight in terms of rejuvenating, treating, and healing a wide variety of ailments.
In Hot Springs, Montana, the spring waters are, well, hot; they range in temperature from 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The most immediate benefit of our waters comes from this heat. In a good soak, buoyancy relieves the body of weight, and the heat relaxes and melts away aches and pains, even chronic ones. Every 2.8-degree rise in water temperature in a bath actually doubles the body’s metabolism. Thus, taking a soak puts your body in an excellent state for absorbing and processing the water’s content, as well as ridding it of toxins.
Our local thermal mineral springs have the added benefit of being artesian. The water from non-artesian springs rises to the surface naturally, picking up various ground-level contaminents. The water from artesian springs is trapped in underground chambers by impenetrable rock barriers, keeping it free from man-made elements. Access to these waters must involve drilling, and the benefit comes from the purity of the contained water.
The second benefit from a soak is derived from the trace mineral/element content of the water, which may differ by varying degrees from spring to spring. In Hot Springs, Montana, the different springs draw from the same source, or aquifer, insuring a baseline of similar characteristics. However, the water from this aquifer travels to the earth’s surface via springs in different locations, each of which retains a measure of uniqueness due to the trace minerals and elements through which the water must pass along its journey to the surface. In many spa towns, these differences are distinct enough that doctors prescribe different springs for treating specific ailments. Locally, the Wild Horse Hot Springs draw from a separate aquifer from that of other Hot Springs waters, resulting in a different makeup.
To be classified as mineral water, the water must contain dissolved solids at a minimum of 500 parts per million (ppm). The thermal mineral springs in Hot Springs, Montana contain a wealth of trace minerals and elements that are proven to alleviate symptoms of many ailments and contribute to the healing of others. A list of ingredients in the waters here at Alameda’s includes bicarbonates, salts, sulfur, nitrates, calcium, arsenic, silica, lithium, magnesium, potassium, and silica, among others (see graphic of water analysis at Alameda’s). The most beneficial ingredients in Alameda’s mineral springs are listed here, along with a description of each ingredient’s benefits:
• Carbonates - in small amounts, stimulates breathing; helps with vascular issues; calms the nervous system; slows the heart rate; and helps the body produce new blood vessels.
• Bicarbonates - aids in improving circulation.
• Sulfates (sulfer) - Relieves numerous ailments including conditions of the liver, digestive and urinary systems, metallic poisoning, chronic skin diseases, and rheumatism.
• Radon - a radioactive inert gas with a very short life. While use in traditional medicene is closely monitored (if used at all), bathing in water containing small amounts of radon treats rheumatic diseases, gout, neuralgia, dermatosis, and diabetes.
• Iron - helps with iron-deficiency enemia, excessive mental fatigue, and stress.
• Magnesium - helps regulate body functions, production of proteins and energy, and nerve and muscle function.
• Lithium - a silvery-white alkali metal, lithium is used to treat manic depression. It also stabilizes mood swings, corrects sleep disorders, and relaxes the mind and the emotions. Known to help alleviate migraine headaches. According to a 2009 Japanese study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, communities whose water contained larger amounts of lithium had significantly lower suicide rates.
• Arsenic - While not recommended for ingestion, small amounts in a soak are effective in healing athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
• Silica - the body contains .05% silica in the bones, skin, and all organs. It is important in promoting bone formation and growth of hair and nails. A 2009 study shows that increases of silica in the drinking water reduces incidence of dementia by 11%.
From Bath, England to Saratoga Springs, New York to Colorado Springs, Colorado to Hot Springs, Montana, untold numbers have flocked to mineral springs for their health benefits. By drinking the waters and/or taking the many types of baths (hot, cold, mud), mineral and hot springs enthusiasts see increased health in the joints, skin, and other parts of the body, including brain function and the reduction of stress. Various cure regimens have developed; the “21-day cure”, for example, includes a series of baths, immersions, drinking, and inhalation that lasts 3 weeks. It has been proven by German studies that mineral water spa treatments such as this result in a decrease in absenteeism and loss of work due to illness by 35 percent in the two years following treatment.
We invite you to stay at the Alameda’s and soak in the thermal mineral waters - as close as the bathroom tub in your room, with some more springs within walking distance. Above and beyond the benefits described here, you will enjoy the social interactions that come with soaking, as the waters melt away not only ailments, but also barriers between fellow enthusiasts taking the waters.
The following sources were used in this article:
Nathaniel Altman, “Healing Springs: The Ultimate Guide to Taking the Waters, From Hidden Springs to the World’s Greatest Spas”, Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2000. ISBN 0892818360.
“All Waters Are Not Created Equal: Healing Remedies of the Sea”, Monica Tuma Brown, Massage & Bodywork magazine, April/May 2002.
“Artesian Water A Cadillac”, S.F. Roberts
|Historically, the most unique attraction in Hot Springs, Montana is the one for which the town was named. Deep beneath the clay earth in the area, heated by thermal pockets and the warmth of bedrock, our hot mineral water springs have attracted every sector of society since their discovery by Native Americans, long before the area was home- steaded.|
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Thanks for the peace and tranquility which we will miss.
Thanks for the peace and tranquility which we will miss. Such wonderful energy and healing, from the waters to the massages, from the ambiance to the fellowship with the owners. I leave with your love still singing in my heart.
- Miriam B., Twisp, WA
Thank you for bringing Big Medicine back to Hot Springs. Thank you for bringing Big Medicine back to Hot Springs. You have a beautiful vision for this place. Peace.
Hans Christian Andersen
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