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The Healing Waters: Mineral Hot Springs January 24, 2012

Posted by ToYourHealth in Public Health.
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Hot mineral springs, mineral spa, thermal water, travel

Heat and minerals combine for natural healing

More accessible than thalasso spas or hammams, mineral hot springs are natural geothermal waters heated through contact with volcanic magma or the earth’s crust. Temperatures range from 15° above ambient ground temperature to 176° F. Hot springs have been used for healing purposes by indigenous peoples since prehistoric times all over the earth.

Mineral Therapy

Interaction with several layers of earth and clay contributes essential minerals to the waters. Even trace amounts of minerals can have a significant therapeutic effect when absorbed through the skin. Mineral content and chemical compositions most often found include:

Arsenic: while toxic in large quantities, trace amounts encourage plasma production and tissue growth; beneficial for fungal infections on the skin; arthritis.

Bicarbonate gas: increases circulation and opens peripheral blood vessels. Use in tepid to warm waters can alleviate symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease, hypertension and mild atherosclerosis; relieves stress.

Boron: increases brain activity, strengthens bone and builds muscle.

Chlorides: beneficial for rheumatic conditions, arthritis, stress, arthritis.

Iron: increases blood production and strengthens the immune system.

Lithium: alleviates depression; helps with digestion.

Magnesium: converts blood sugar to energy; promotes healthy skin.

Potassium: regulates heart rhythms and decreases blood pressure; eliminates toxins.

Sulfates: treat respiratory ailments and skin infections. Also beneficial for liver  and gastrointestinal conditions.

Help Yourself

Balneology is the scientific study of naturally occurring mineral waters, and is incorporated into routine medical care in Europe and Asia. It is not practiced in the United States where preventive health has been pushed aside in favor of morbidity treatment. Given the number of mineral hot springs in the US, this is unfortunate. Two-time Nobel Laureat (for chemistry and peace), Dr. Linus Pauling noted, “Every sickness, every disease, every ailment can be traced to a mineral deficiency.” Being in charge of our own health destinies, however, we may avail ourselves to the many therapies of mineral springs.

In the late 1880’s, Doc Holliday, gunslinger of OK Corral legend, ended up living in Glenwood Springs, CO where he used the hot springs to treat his tuberculosis. In the early 1900’s, Teddy Roosevelt occasionally hunted in Colorado, and found the hot springs and vapor caves there beneficial for his health conditions.

Carson Hot Springs in Nevada, was enjoyed by settlers on their way to the Gold Rush, and a resort there even began bottling a healing “new Mineral Water” as early as 1895.

Three thousand years ago, American Natives occupied what is now known as Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. The Quapaw and Caddo tribes there still consider the hot baths a sacred and integral part of their culture.

Check for mineral hot springs in your area or when traveling. Many websites offer mineral content of their springs, and you will be surprised at how many more elements are common than the few listed above. Also be aware of rules and regulations–some spa settings will be pricey, and more natural settings are likely to attract nudists. But there are so many mineral hot springs, you can be sure to locate the perfect one. A handful of US hot springs:

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO.

Faywood Hot Springs, NM.

Crystal Hot Springs, UT.

Virginia Hot Springs, Allegheny Mountains, VA.

Goldmeyer Hot Springs, WA.

Sol Duc Hot Springs, Olympic National Park, WA.


Some springs are extremely hot and can be fatal. Check with your doctor to know your body’s tolerance with your health conditions. Surrounding ground is also hot and has often melted soles off of shoes.  

A Native Journey November 14, 2011

Posted by ToYourHealth in Public Health.
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Native American, Canoe Journey, Muckleshoot Tribe

Layla Yamabe, Quinault Nation Muckleshoot Canoe Family

Today I welcome my close friend and neighbor, American Native, Layla Yamabe, for an interview during Native American Heritage Month.

Layla, thanks for joining To Your Health to give us an insight into living within your Native culture. Please introduce yourself:

My name is Layla Marie Yamabe and I’m enrolled with the Quinault Indian Nation. I grew up in Renton, WA., and they call me an “urban Indian” because I was raised in an urban area, away from the “Rez” or Reservation.

Was Native heritage always a part of your lifestyle?

No, it was not. My mom took my sisters and me to one of the bigger pow-wows around Seattle when we were young, but aside from that she did not pass down anything that was truly Native.

How did you become re-connected with the tribe?

I became reconnected with Natives two years ago when I started going to Northwest Indian College at the Muckleshoot site. There is a brand new college there where I enrolled and met many Muckleshoot tribal members who informed me about some free classes provided by the tribe. So in addition to pursuing my degree in Native Environmental Science, the extra classes were cedar bark weaving classes and I learned how to make cedar hats, arm bands, and headbands out of cedar. I also enrolled in gathering classes through Northwest Indian College where we learned how to gather native plants and turn them into medicine. From my connections there, I was introduced to people from the Muckleshoot Canoe Family. The Canoe Family and Canoe Journey changed my life.

What is the Canoe Journey and how did it change your life?

The Canoe Journey, or Tribal Journey, is a waterway journey that Natives from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California take each year in traditional canoes. Primarily these are Salish Sea tribes, but some Natives from Brazil joined us on the journey this year as well. Typically, each group, or canoe family, starts the journey from their home port and ends at the home of the host. This was my first journey and my canoe family, the Muckleshoot Canoe Family, started the journey early at Squaxin Island in the southwestern part of the Puget Sound, and we traveled our way north to Swinomish near LaConner, WA. We traveled by canoe during the day and celebrated/sang/ate/danced at night. We left on July 17th and arrived at Swinomish by July 25th. When we got to Swinomish, we were welcomed with days of celebrations, food, singing and dancing along with about 15,000 other tribal members. Each tribal family thanked the host for allowing us to arrive upon their shores, by singing, dancing, and sharing gifts with the host tribe. The host thanks each tribal family and in turn, shares gifts with them. Some of these gifts include sacred songs which cannot be sung by any other tribe until they are given as a gift. We were given the gift of a song, “Eagle Spirit Paddle Song,” by Sacred Water tribe after loaning them a canoe. It’s a beautiful song and we were moved to receive such a gift.

What kind of preparation is involved for the tribal members before they set off on the journey? 

Beadwork of salmon

My Canoe Family started practicing in the spring for the summer journey. Preparation includes physical work-outs in addition to water training and safety. We take one of our canoes out on a lake or in Puget Sound and practice for an hour or two at a time every week. We have weekly Canoe Family meetings from spring to fall and meet twice a month during the winter. During these meetings, we take care of business, eat dinner together, practice our songs and dances. I also learned beading and made a salmon bead design for my canoe vest.

How did this impact your life?

Thousands of Natives and non-Natives participate in the journey. The journey is a physical, spiritual, and cultural event. It takes a lot of strength to be a “puller” on a canoe, and pull, or stroke, for hours every day. Most of us pray and use our spirituality to gain strength. We are gathering just like our ancestors did and traveling the same waterways our ancestors traveled. Another great thing about the journey is that so many different tribes reunite and we get to meet new people and learn other tribes/family’s songs and dances.

The Canoe Journey changed my life! I have a biological family and now I have a Canoe Family. We became very close to each other, I now see them as my brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, cousins, etc… I learned for the first time how to pray on the journey–it came to me one night during meditation, through powerful visions/dreams… When I felt weak on the canoe, I prayed to my ancestors and sang the songs, and leaned on my canoe family for strength. I met the love of my life on this journey, and that has certainly changed my life.

Canoe Journey, Northwest tribes

The annual Canoe Journey is an important cultural event for NW tribal nations

Will you go on the Canoe Journey next year?

I wouldn’t miss the Canoe Journey for anything, so of course I will go next year! I love being a part of keeping this Native tradition alive and my Canoe Family is so important to me. I want my kids to know the strength and knowledge of our people and the traditions that keep us strong. I am so proud of my Canoe Family.

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