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Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jun 6;19(6). pii: E1687. doi: 10.3390/ijms19061687.

Balneotherapy, Immune System, and Stress Response: A Hormetic Strategy?

Author information

1
Research Group in Immunophysiology, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Extremadura, Avda. Elvas s/n, 06071 Badajoz, Spain. igalvez@unex.es.
2
Research Group in Immunophysiology, Department of Medical-Surgical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Extremadura, Avda. Elvas s/n, 06071 Badajoz, Spain. storres@unex.es.
3
Research Group in Immunophysiology, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Extremadura, Avda. Elvas s/n, 06071 Badajoz, Spain. orincon@unex.es.

Abstract

Balneotherapy is a clinically effective complementary approach in the treatment of low-grade inflammation- and stress-related pathologies. The biological mechanisms by which immersion in mineral-medicinal water and the application of mud alleviate symptoms of several pathologies are still not completely understood, but it is known that neuroendocrine and immunological responses—including both humoral and cell-mediated immunity—to balneotherapy are involved in these mechanisms of effectiveness; leading to anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, chondroprotective, and anabolic effects together with neuroendocrine-immune regulation in different conditions. Hormesis can play a critical role in all these biological effects and mechanisms of effectiveness. The hormetic effects of balneotherapy can be related to non-specific factors such as heat—which induces the heat shock response, and therefore the synthesis and release of heat shock proteins—and also to specific biochemical components such as hydrogen sulfide (H₂S) in sulfurous water and radon in radioactive water. Results from several investigations suggest that the beneficial effects of balneotherapy and hydrotherapy are consistent with the concept of hormesis, and thus support a role for hormesis in hydrothermal treatments.

KEYWORDS:

heat shock proteins; hormesis; hydrotherapy; immune response; inflammation; mud therapy; oxidative stress; pain; rheumatic diseases; spa therapy

PMID:
29882782
PMCID:
PMC6032246
DOI:
10.3390/ijms19061687
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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