For centuries, many people have been convinced of the healing nature of hot mineral springs. The Romans constructed elaborate bathing facilities throughout their empire to utilise these waters. Immersion was reputed to cure a large variety of illnesses, including such diverse conditions as paralysis, forgetfulness, sciatica and leprosy. The profusion of infirm and disabled visitors seeking relief in the waters attracted an assortment of practitioners and spas became thriving medical marketplaces. By focusing on Britain's premier spa at Bath, this book examines how and why 'taking the waters' was regarded as an efficacious therapy by both patients and practitioners; and how and why Bath's Mineral Water Hospital, one of the earliest voluntary hospitals to be established in the UK, ultimately became a world-renowned centre for the study and treatment of rheumatic diseases. In recent decades, the medical profession has largely forsaken its interest in spas. So is there any scientific evidence that drinking or bathing in hot mineral waters has a therapeutic effect, or is it just a glorified placebo? Read this book and discover the answer, and a great deal more.
Preface and Acknowledgements 1. Introduction 2. Douched and Drenched 3. Therapies on Trial 4. Aches, Pains and Rheumatism 5. The Palsy 6. The Gout 7. Scabbes, Scurf and Lepers 8. Fecundity and Fatigue 9. Children at the Spa 10. Spa Doctors 11. Hospital for the Nation Notes and References Index