A Turkish bath, also called a hammam, consists of a hot steam bath carried out in a closed environment with a very high humidity level. Used as a wellness treatment, for an even more relaxing effect it can be combined with chromotherapy and enriched with essential oils according to the principles of aromatherapy.
The origins of the Turkish bath
The benefits of the steam bath were known in ancient times: its practice was found in many cultures such as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and was used not only for hygienic purposes, but as out-and-out therapy to invigorate the body and regenerate the spirit.
In ancient Rome, the steam bath was a daily well-being ritual that took place in thermal complexes and involved several steps: it began with the the tepidarium, the room with warm air; after that there was the calidarium, the room with very hot air; then into the laconicum where the circulating air was dry and at a very high temperature; to finish by reaching the frigidarium, the cold room.
With the fall of the Roman Empire the Arabs inherited this tradition and reduced the treatment in three stages – hot, warm and cold – which correspond to the three rooms of the building called the hammam. The hammam, as well as being an opportunity to meet and socialize as at the Roman baths, was also the place where ritual ablution took place, a practice of purification necessary to carry out one’s daily prayer.
The benefits of the Turkish bath
The Turkish bath is the combination of high temperature and high humidity, which reaches 90-100%, that produce the beneficial effect. Temperatures dissipate from high to low: at head level temperatures reach 40° or 50°, then diminish at foot height up to 20°.
The simultaneous action of steam and controlled heat improves blood and lymphatic circulation, and increases tissue oxygenation. The skin is the main organ involved: thanks to the action of the water vapor the pores of the epidermis dilate, while the temperature promotes perspiration and consequently the elimination of toxins accumulated during the day.
The Turkish bath also has a positive influence on both the heart rate and breathing rate, and is recommended as a preventive treatment for the onset of respiratory disorders, thanks to the activation of the lymphatic system and the increase of immune defenses. The Turkish bath can also be an effective cosmetic treatment because it speeds up the metabolism and promotes weight loss.
Moreover, the increase in body temperature has positive effects on the central and peripheral nervous system because it relieves muscle tension, fights stress and guarantees total relaxation.
Recommendations for the Turkish bath
The ideal time of day to take a Turkish bath treatment is in the evening on an empty stomach, preferably after a lukewarm shower.
A session in the Turkish bath should generally last fifteen minutes, but you can reduce the time based on your tolerance to heat and humidity, and possibly repeat the entire cycle. For a complete experience, aromatherapy and chromotherapy can enhance the benefits of the Turkish bath on a psycho-emotional level, with a resulting positive effect on your mood.
At the end of the treatment it is advisable to have a cool shower and massage yourself with a loofah mitt to eliminate dead skin cells to get luminous and toned skin. Finally, it is very important to remember to replenish your fluids, drinking a few glasses of water or fruit juice.