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THERAPY


A family herb garden in Slovenia where a knowledge of herbs for use in healthcare is still strong


Today this knowledge is being used in


commercial ventures. In the Baltics, where harsh winters and short, sun-filled summers make for powerful plant ingredients, Latvian skincare company Madara uses sap from local birch trees. The sap is rich in amino acids, proteins and enzymes that work like collagen to support the structure of the skin. In rural Estonia, guests at Energia Farm,


a herb spa, pick (according to the moon cycle), eat (a meal featuring 15 herbs) and use (in poultices in the sauna) the many species of herbs that are cultivated there. They stroll through relaxation- or aphrodisiac-themed herb trails and rest


A focus on the natural resources of central and eastern Europe forms part of an upcoming book, Healing Sources, Spas and Wellbeing from the Baltic to the Black Sea, which has been put together by writer Sophie Benge and researcher Alla Sokolova. It will be published by Prestel in October. Details: www.thehealingsources.com


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Lessons in tea blending: sage tea stops sweating, while thyme boosts sexual energy


on a bed of thyme. There are also lessons in tea blending and drinking: for example, the owners say sage tea stops sweating, while thyme tea stimulates sexual energy. Smaller spas are creating treatments


based on local produce. At the Etno Spa in Lithuania, beer baths are on the menu alongside wraps and scrubs incorporating poppy seeds, honey and ground amber. Further south, herbs that grow wild in the Rhodope mountains of Bulgaria are being picked, air-dried and blended by hand for Villa Gella Teas, a new brand that’s being sold to the international spa market.


Wellness facilities & products


n Wieliczka Salt Mine Health Resort, Poland


www.kopalnia.pl n Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida, Slovenia


www.thalassa-lepavida.si n Energia Farm, Estonia


www.energiatalu.ee n Villa Gella, Bulgaria


www.villagella.com n Etno Spa at Romantic Boutique Hotel


www.etnospa.lt n Madara skincare, Latvia www.madaracosmetics.com


Visitors to this part of Europe sense an


authentic affinity among local people for their land, which may have something to do with decades of flatlining economies and their countries relative isolation. While the region may be moving towards a fully fledged market economy, its traditional approach to healthcare is ahead of its time. What’s long been practiced here as a matter of course is now piquing the interest of holistic health seekers everywhere. In other words, treatments using herbs and salt – among other natural resources – are just what today’s wellness tourist is looking for.


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