Travelling two kilometres into a mountain dressed only in a swimsuit and dressing gown whilst seated on a miniature yellow train might strike one as a rather odd decision to take in the pursuit of health. Added to the fact that you then lie down for a prescribed amount of time in a sauna-like Healing Gallery attended to by physicians also dressed in bathing costumes and stethoscopes.
Yet, for the 75,000 visitors last year to the Gastein Healing Caves, mostly from Central Europe, the natural therapy emanating from these caves is so valued that it`s available on health insurance in Germany and Austria. It counts many senior politicians and celebrities amongst its devotees.
Now the largest pain management centre in the world and a serious world health tourism destination, the Gastein Healing Caves, near Bad Gastein, have a staggering 90% success rate. The locals refer to the caves as the `Heilstollen`.
On first impressions, the caves are like any other professional, slick modern clinic. The doctors on reception are immaculately dressed in white coats and, on arrival, you are directed straight to the changing rooms. It is only after you have sat through the short video presentation in the smart amphitheatre and steel doors slide back to reveal the yellow train that you realise that you are about to embark on something rather more unusual. It is nevertheless, in strictly health-terms, utterly serious and indeed, some of the trains have beds for patients with more serious medical complaints.
Substantial scientific research has shown the treatment to be particularly beneficial to patients with musculoskeletal and joint disorders, as well as respiratory and skin diseases. Devotees of the Gastein Healing Caves report being able to live pain-free for over a year afterwards, and being able to greatly reduce their medication or even go drug-free with the occasional `top-up`.
This healing phenomenon started sixty years ago when miners first ventured into the Radhausberg Mountain. They didn`t find gold but many of the miners reported that their health complaints had gone. A subsequent study carried out by the University of Innsbruck identified the temperatures of up to 106F (41C), high humidity and naturally occurring low levels of radon gas as the reason. Since then there have been numerous studies and no adverse side-effects have been recorded.
The radon gas, or `Tauern Gold` as it is now affectionately known, combined with the caves` perfect humidity and temperature, has been scientifically proven to help restore homeostasis in the body and strengthen the immune system.
`The radon gas, taken in through the skin and lungs, helps activate the body at a cellular level. Mild alpha radiation is released, stimulating DNA repair, antioxidant action and immune response` says Dr Liane Weber, who has consulted at the Gastein Healing Caves for over a decade.
Dr Liane Weber is also the senior physician at Grand Park Hotel Health & Spa which has established itself as a leading medical spa in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, pain-management, as well as burnout-prevention. It is owned by is owned by the Economic Chamber Salzburg and serves as a training hotel for the Tourism College Bad Hofgastein , the only five star hotel training school in Austria.
Grand Park Hotel Health & Spa have successfully devised a series of highly-integrated Gastein Healing Therapy programmes for specific medical conditions including Rheumatism, Arthrosis, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Ankylosing Spondylitis. These individually-tailored programmes all combine Gastein Healing Cave sessions, radon baths, natural therapies, nutrition and exercise.
For further information on the Gastein Healing Therapy at Grand Park Hotel Health & Spa: www.grandparkhhotel.at; tel. +43-6432-6356-0.
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