By Lianne Raymond
Some believe the word spa derives from the Latin phrase, “salue per aquae,” which translates to “health through water.” Others think the term comes from the Belgian town of Spa, known since Roman times for its public baths.
Wherever the word comes from, it’s clear that many spa therapies we enjoy today have deep historical roots that originate from all over the world.
Brief History of Massage Therapy
What a gift it is to receive a massage. I truly have no idea how stressed out I am until I get all (or most of) the knots out of my body thanks to a masseuse’s touch. If I could, I’d get one every day. Julius Caesar knows what I’m talking about. The man was reportedly given a daily massage to treat neuralgia.
Treating pain and stress with massage therapy definitely goes way back and is thought to be the oldest, simplest forms of healthcare. The earliest written records of massage therapy were discovered in Egypt and China.
In the fifth century BCE, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, mentioned the great benefits of massage and often prescribed it along with exercise to his sick patients. It is believed that his support for massage therapy helped create a shift in perception about the therapeutic practice. No longer considered superstitious or “magical,” massage was now an acceptable form of healing because it was grounded in science.
“The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.” – Hippocrates
Brief History of Water Therapy
Natural hot springs are found in many locations all over the crust of the earth. If you haven’t tried soaking in a natural hot spring yet, I highly recommend it. It’s probably the best thing ever and the ancient world agrees.
Various forms of water therapy have been recorded in ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Roman civilization. In Egypt, water therapy was not for your average Joe. It was reserved for royalty, who bathed in essential oils and flowers. Other cultures noted for a long history of hydrotherapy include China and Japan.
Brief History of Aromatherapy
It is believed that aromatherapy really began with the burning of fragrant woods, needles, etc. in ancient times. The word perfume derives from the Latin term per fumum, which means “through smoke.”
I’d like to thank none other than miss Cleopatra for influencing me to care about the way I look and smell. The woman apparently owned an entire perfume factory and used a ship full of incense to win over Mark Antony in the grand tradition of Ancient Egyptian scent
Today, aromatherapy may not be used to win over husbands. People use dating websites for that. But it has been known to treat a variety of issues including pain, depression, skin problems and asthma.
The More Things Change
Spa therapy practices have certainly evolved over time, but I think the quest is still the same – to achieve a happy and healthy body/mind. Looking 10 years younger isn’t so bad, either.
About the Author
Lianne Raymond is a digital media editor and yogini with a great curiosity about the world and passion for storytelling. Her love of yoga, coffee and sunshine led her to Costa Rica where she volunteers at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa. Follow her musings on Twitter or Facebook.