2014 Volume 77 Issue 5 Pages 385
Balneology in Europe has a long tradition. The therapeutic effects of water or steam baths have been used in almost all its territory since early times, first as a purely empiric exercise but in our times with a remarkable progress on its scientific basis. Depending of geographic or cultural circumstances hydrotherapeutic modalities developed in different ways. However the contribution of the Greek Medicine for its roots and of the Roman Empire for the spread of its use must be enhanced.
During the two last centuries we assisted of a growing interest and knowledge of the properties and therapeutic principles of balneology and their action mechanisms, including: physical (hydrostatic, hydrodynamic, thermal), chemical, biologic and psychological factors.
Currently European Balneology progresses remarkably. European Medical professionals aimed several goals to build this progress. Among them we may refer: the establishment of principles and definitions; a manual of good practice; the development of research; the improvement of education on this field; the awareness of public authorities and of the population.
We may say that in the last ten years we really got significant achievements.
We managed to create new cooperation opportunities by the creation of a Balneology Group within the UEMS (European Union of Specialist Doctors) that is also working together with the ISMH. We start several studies trying to know the different realities of Balneology in our European countries. We are also working on the consensus for a common lexicon and taxonomy in Balneology. Some important papers on this were already published and accepted by ISMH leaders. We also assist of the publication of a significant number of scientific studies, namely randomized controlled trials. Many of them with high quality standards.
Nevertheless the difficulties research is in fact improving. We should mention and praise the financial support of institutions specifically created to sponsor scientific studies on the thermal field, like for instance the French “AFreth” or the Italian “FoRST”.
Balneology Education needs to be better standardised in European terms so that we may built a common curriculum and walk towards an European Medical Board that could among other tasks to be able to certify Specialized Doctors on Balneology.
Balneology has a wide scope of interventions which include prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of a large number of health conditions.
We hope that its progress may benefit a greater number of people. Europe should contribute to this important goal.