Health Spas in Crimea from Ancient to Modern
Peloid Therapy has been practised since ancient times and was particularly popular in ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt; the term peloid comes from the Greek word Pelos, meaning silts and clays. In the ancient world treatment using this type of therapy was known as the “Egyptian Method”, suggesting that the earliest medical and therapeutic uses for mud were developed along the banks of the Nile. Greek colonisation and settlement in the area that is now known as Crimea also saw the establishment of the earliest manifestations of the spa-mud treatment. It’s likely that local peoples were already using mud for its health benefits and the Greek settlers quickly adopted the practice. Amongst the many Greek and Roman archaeological treasures found in the region there are numerous examples of images and objects associated with the Greco-Roman cult of Aesculapius – which just goes to show how long the Crimean region has been associated with health, healing and vitality!
Early medical studies of the properties and qualities of Crimean sediments began in the first part of the 19th century. Dr Lang and a local doctor, N N Ozhe, focussed their studies on mud deposits from Saki Lake. Describing the mud as ‘black, soft and ointment like’ Ozhe refers to the fact that Saki mud adheres well to the body and found that the mud was capable of operating on different functions and organs of the body. He believed it was particularly good at removing toxins from the human body, helping to aid healing and recovery from illness.
In the early days, spa treatments were perhaps not as luxurious as we might expect today at a health spa. Saki saw one of the earliest treatment facilities opening in the 1820s and well into the 20th century, patients were literally buried up to their necks in the healing mud! With heads protected from the strong sun by scarves or umbrellas the patients were left for up to three hours to soak up the beneficial qualities of the silts from Lake Saki.
Thankfully, taking advantage of the beneficial qualities of Saki’s mud-treatments is somewhat more luxurious!
Of course, not all muds are equal but sediment from Lake Saki is particularly valued for its beneficial properties. The mud itself is a unique combination of minerals and also has anti-bacterial qualities, along with vitamins and amino-acids, which are created by the action of bacteria within the silt. Widely known in Russia, Saki lake mud-treatments are considered to be one of the most effective natural mud treatments. In the past the treatments have been believed to be beneficial for a whole range of illnesses and conditions. Amongst these are the beneficial effects on the diseases and inflammation of the joints; gout, arthritis and a range of skin conditions have been high on the list of health issues that the visitors to Saki have found relief from.
Saki, along with Crimea, has long been associated within Russia with holidays and healing. The stunning scenery alone should be enough to revive even the most world-weary traveller. Its climate, its health spas, its generous and friendly people, along with its stunning scenery all combine to make Crimea one of Russia’s most attractive regions to visit and to rest; and, of course, no visit would be complete without a trip to a mud-treatment spa, sampling this most Crimean of treatments!