For Peat’s Sake, It’s Time for a Mud Bath
by Sussanna Czeranko ND
Let’s begin with a riddle, shall we? What is over 20,000 years old, odourless, tasteless, black, and has unsurpassed therapeutic properties? If you haven’t guessed, here are other clues. Paracelsus (1494-1541), famous for his contributions to alchemy and medicine, used this mysterious substance in the treatment of jaundice, digestive disorders, and speeding up convalescence after surgery and preventing scarring. The give-away clue is that we walk on it! Yes, the answer is Mother Earth herself and her ancient healing gifts, just below our feet.
The earth that we walk on is much more than we can imagine, especially when we use the earth as a medicinal material akin to a wondrous elixir. There are healing properties and a plethora of constituents that scientists are still discovering in the various kinds of earth materials. Earth therapies have been used since time immemorial and have become the bedrock in some cultures as an unrivaled therapy. In fact, if you have never had a mud bath or wrap, you have no idea what you are missing.
Earth therapy in medical circles is called peloid therapy and has a rich tradition around the world, especially in Europe. Peloids consist of a wide range of different kinds of earth materials, from sand and clay to muds found in rivers and lakes. And then there is peat, my favourite. This continuum ranges from inorganic to organic compounds, depending upon what kind of earth material is used, the therapeutic properties, and applications varying for each. Medical peat has a creamy consistency, differing greatly from the fibrous tangle of mosses and plant debris routinely used to amend soil for gardens.
Canada has the largest area of peat lands in the world, amounting to 1,114,000 km2. This colossal area yields 50 million tons of peat which accumulate annually. Even so, only 800,000 tons are excavated for agricultural use, such as amending garden soil. Such an expansive resource suggests abundance, but peat is not created quickly. For each inch of peat available, 20 years is needed in the making. In addition, peat bogs can take thousands of years to generate. Such is the incredible wisdom of Mother Nature that she transforms plants into a black elixir.
Bogs have hundreds of medicinal plants growing within their regional ecosystems. To transform these plants into organic, biologically active constituents requires a complex community of microorganisms. The abundance of microorganisms in the soil parallels the proliferation and function of gut flora found in the human intestines. Soil microorganisms are absolutely essential for plant life. Significantly, we are now recognizing that similar processes and essential benefits occurring in the soil take place in the human digestive biome in the same way.
Medicinal peat is almost magical. My first peat wrap took place in Hungary at a medical conference, and it was an indelible moment of healing and delight. The rejuvenation and extreme sense of health were unforgettable and led me to study in depth the therapeutic uses of peloids and especially peat therapies.
The many organic compounds of peat help with detoxification, tissue regeneration, hormonal regulation, alleviating pain, restoring the gut biome and digestion, and protection of the immune system. In fact, the constituents in peat are so numerous that scientists are still exploring the benefits found in this black, odourless, and tasteless gift of the earth. Humic and fulvic acids are the principle organic constituents which give peat its unusual thermal properties. A peat bath, for example, is often experienced as warmer than one in a tap water bath, even if the water temperatures are identical. Peat water feels hotter and also retains its heat much longer than tap water. In this regard, the benefits of being able to bathe in cooler waters reduces stress on the heart while ameliorating pain, meanwhile benefiting from the many organic acids in peat.
For two centuries, peat has been used in European medical clinics for baths, compresses, and wraps; peat has also even been used orally. It has most often been used for rheumatism, arthritis, and infertility. Studies describe how peat and its constituents act as an estrogen modulator, act against viral infections, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and correct gynecological conditions in women.
At Manitou Waters Naturopathic Clinic, we have several therapies not found anywhere else in Canada. Here in this quaint prairie village there exists a naturopathic spa clinic that uses peat and mud in baths, wraps, compresses, and even internally. After a peat bath or a bath, there is such a deep sense of relaxation and serenity. However, peat is not only indicated for those who are wanting to unwind or de-stress; these earth therapies are also unmatched for alleviating pain and restoring our bodies to a feeling of being new again.
Despite the vast peat lands in Canada, as of yet there is no company invested in excavating for therapeutic grades of peat. My sourcing preferences for peloids are the Czech Republic and Heviz, Hungary. I have used these products for years with complete satisfaction. Whatever ails you, come and experience a naturopathic spa day at Manitou Waters Naturopathic Clinic.
Sussanna Czeranko, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in Manitou Beach, SK. She is the founder of Manitou Waters Healing Arts, specializing in naturopathic spa therapies. Also a certified Buteyko Breathing Educator, Sussanna is the author of the 12-volume series The Hevert Collection, published by NUNM PRESS in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Czeranko has published over 150 articles in professional journals on natural medicine topics. Her feature article, “Peloids, a New Old Medical Marvel,” won the naturopathic article of the year in the Townsend Newsletter in 2017. Manitou Waters, 205 John Street, Manitou Beach, 306-946-4266, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.manitouwaters.com. For more information and upcoming events, see the display ad on page 17 of the 27.2 July/August issue of the WHOLifE Journal.