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Elixir of vigour and health

The Karlovy Vary thermal springs have risen from the river Tepla valley for millions of years. The over 600 year long tradition of the spa is based on the healing power of the mineral springs. Everyone will be fascinated by the apparent simplicity of the natural mechanism, which transmutes rainfall into extravagantly abundant fountains of life-giving moisture – a real elixir of life. How does it function?

The granite bedrock under the town buildings has a fissure through which groundwater penetrates at a depth of about 2000m. There it is warmed, enriched by carbon dioxide, mineral content and tracers. And then this regenerated water either noisily or peacefully breaks forth to the light of the day. Thus, the Vridlo geyser spouts from the ground, bringing out three million litres of water a day at a temperature of 72įC. It contains 18 tons of salt and mineral content, or 6.4g on average per litre. The other springs' waters have lower temperatures, bursting forth like branches of a tree by the left bank of the Tepla river.

Drawing by A. Prostov-Pokrovsky

Karlo vy Vary's springs bring to the light of the day hot carbonated sulphate-sodium, hydrocarbonated-sodium and chloride-sodium waters with compounds of calcium, potassium, iron, lithium and bromine. Spring water contains over 50 substances and microelements that form the main part of enzymatic systems of the human body. The effect of this water on people’s health was already revealed a long time ago. The emergence and development of the world science of water cure definitely owes a lot to those who spearheaded it in Karlovy Vary. No wonder that their experiments were often far from being safe and sometimes even led to deaths.

In olden times, the diseases were believed to need multiple and continuous (up to ten hours a day) immersion in curative waters, until the skin began to blister. Through these cracks the diseases were thus supposed “to flush away” from the organism. And later this method was enriched by drinking procedures, with consuming water, as a rule, also in enormous quantities. Naturally, not everyone could endure such a test. For anticipating it, patients would often draw up their wills before leaving for the spa. A scientifically established water cure technique was first worked out in Karlovy Vary. It brought worldwide fame not only to this place, but also to the whole Czech spa development. In the 16th century, Locket’s doctor Vaclav Payer introduced a new curative therapy. In the document named “Tractatus de Termis Caroli IV Imperatoris” published in 1522, he recommended several weeks of continuous bathing only in the mineral water, followed by several weeks of drinking only.

Another doctor J. S. Strobelberger preferred drinking procedures to baths. In 1620 the patients were to drink 55 cups (up to 8 litres) of water a day. In 1772 doctor David Becher reduced the recommended quantity of water to 2.5 litres and insisted on it being drunk directly by the springs. David Becher was the first to carry out a chemical analysis of the mineral waters. Later, in experiments, the results of the analysis were proven many times over.

Nowadays, a doctor, according to the patient's disease, prescribes individual water curing procedures. The specialists determine the water spring, quantity of water to be consumed, time of consuming and associated procedures.

Water has an effect on the tissue of the alimentary canal immediately after consumption. Already in the mouth it starts to influence the production of saliva. It also influences the functioning of the gullet, stomach and bowels. The cleansing mechanism influences the body's metabolism, all major organs, most of all the liver, pancreas and kidney.

As a rule, each patient's cure by local mineral water includes three weeks of water procedures, comprising two ten-day and three seven-day individual chrono-biological cycles. The average daily dosage of Karlovy Vary mineral water is 1-1.5 litres. It is usually divided into three portions, which are drunk 30-60 minutes before the meal. The integrated balneotherapeutic cure allows different methods of treatment due to the peculiarities of the unique local mineral water.

Besides drinking, mineral water is used in various procedures, such as baths, water cure, water irrigation and detertion. Natural mud and peat are also used in a complementary manner and are very effective. Carbon dioxide, which extends the vessels, is used in carbonated baths, dry carbonated applications and is also applied under the skin to the acupunctural points – so called "gas injection technique".

A doctor will prescribe particular individual procedures after a thorough test of the patient's health. As a rule there is one main (i.e., bathing or water cure) and one supporting (electrotherapy and inhalations) procedure. The complex spa therapy in Karlovy Vary is very effective. Carried out with special knowledge from many fields of medicine, it has helped the majority of patients to improve their health profoundly.

The beauty and calm of the nature induce philosophical soul-searching, help to consolidate self-confidence and to overcome troubles of life. There is no doubt, that the Karlovy Vary spa area is a unique place in the world, which provides every opportunity for improving health and restoring one's internal balance.

Long medical practice shows. that spa curing and rehabilitation in Karlovy Vary are most effective when dealing with the following cases:

  • Digestive tract disorders:
    – Chronic functional stomach disorders and gullet diseases of a benign character
    – Ulcer diseases of the stomach and duodenum.
    – Problems after operations on the gullet, stomach and duode- num.
    – Chronic enteric disorders
    – Problems after heavy enteric infections, irritated colon, retention
    – Chronic enteric inflammation
    – Problems after an enteric operation
    – Chronic gall and bile duct diseases
    – Problems after acute pancreatic inflammations
    – Chronic hepatopathy
    – Chronic pancreatitis
  • Metabolic disorders:
    – Diabetes and sequelae
    – Obesity
    – Hyper cholesterol and hyper lipoprotein in blood
  • Motor disorders:
    – Metabolic diseases of joints, gout
    – Painful diseases of spinal column of functional or dege nerative character
  • Rehabilitation after complex treatment of cancer cases (pro-vided there has been no relapse.

The clinical effects of the Karlovy Vary's potable water:

  • Spasmolytic, meukolytic and antiflogistic effects: the water favours enteric motility and quantitative changes in the spectrum of the enteric microflora.
  • Effect on exogenous and endogenous pancreas secretion.
  • Promoting the choleric and cholekinetic functions (formation and exudation of gall) as well as blood supply to the liver.
  • Impact on metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Preventive treatment in regard to formation of choleste rol, urea, cystic and calcium-phosphate concretions.
  • Depuration of kidneys and improving of its functions.

Contraindication of the spa cure:

– Acute infections of all kinds.
– Stenosis and cancers of alimentary tract.
– Poor working of the cardiovascular system.
– Renal insufficiency with edemas.
– Pregnancy.


Milada SŠrovŠ,
Specialist in Balneology,
Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine