Vitamin Sea: Muddy Waters
While children often can’t resist the temptation to get down and dirty with any mud puddle they find in their path, adults may also find themselves tempted to play in the mud, so to speak. “Warm, therapeutic muds and clays, found in coastal and volcanic regions, are rich in nourishing minerals — like sodium, magnesium, and potassium — along with particles of seaweed that can help remineralize the skin and soothe aching muscles and joints,” says Rona Berg, editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media. “And applying a mud mask or taking a soak feels really good.”
Mud can also be used as an effective detoxifier, drawing out dirt, toxins, and other impurities in the skin. Beyond the skin-nourishing benefits, certain muds have shown promise in reducing inflammation and providing relief from arthritis, psoriasis, and more. It’s no surprise then that mud baths and treatments have become a popular self-care option as well as a unique way to experience a destination. This long-time beauty ritual — Cleopatra was reputed to be a fan — has been practiced throughout the world for centuries.
A Multitude of Mud
If you’re thinking dirt is just dirt, you may want to think again. Mud has been responsible for putting certain destinations around the globe on the map. “In Iceland, where over 80 percent of the country is heated geothermally, there is a powerful tradition of soaking in mineral-rich muds,” says Berg.
The Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, Iceland, for instance, is the country’s No. 1 tourist destination. The man-made lagoon is fed water from a nearby geothermal power plant. While it may not have started as a natural phenomenon, it certainly has become a sensation among visitors interested in taking advantage of the health benefits provided by the rich mineral content found there. Part of the lagoon’s allure is its silica-rich mud, which is incorporated into treatments at the Blue Lagoon’s dermatology clinic and spa as well as in the Blue Lagoon skincare line. “Silica is the Blue Lagoon’s iconic element,” says marketing representative Cindy Run Li. “It not only helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier function, it also has healing benefits for eczema and psoriasis.” It’s no wonder people from around the world flock here to bathe in the thermal waters and slather themselves with the popular white mud. Bathing in the Blue Lagoon is an excursion available on Holland America Line’s Iceland itinerary, among others. As part of the Blue Lagoon Comfort Package, visitors are offered a silica mask, a towel, and a beverage while enjoying the warm waters of the lagoon.
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No trip to St. Lucia is complete without a visit to its famed Sulphur Springs in Soufrière. Created by a nearby volcano, the springs have drawn visitors to enjoy therapeutic benefits since the time of Napoleon. Today, boiling mud, steam, and healing waters are all hallmarks of this must-see Caribbean destination. Passengers on Princess Cruises stopping in St. Lucia can opt for the Volcanic Island Experience & Mud Bath, which includes a visit to the famed springs with time to relax in the warm mineral mud bath and rinse off under a nearby waterfall. Soothing for those who have suffered from a bit too much sun, the mud is also known to help heal eczema, insect bites, and sore joints.
In Spain, the mud of Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon, features sediments rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other therapeutic minerals. Passengers aboard Oceania Cruises visiting the port of Cartagena can take part in the Curative Muds of Mar Menor, a 2-hour excursion that shares the history of how the geological feature was formed and the many benefits the mud provides. After….
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By Heather Mikesell
Photo: Blue Lagoon