General term for therapeutic procedures that use water for a variety of purposes, from relaxation to disease treatment. Methods can include Kneipp baths, underwater jet massage, specialized or experience showers, mineral baths, thalassotherapy, and more.


Seaweed bath that is a form of thalassotherapy



The use of water to restore and revitalize the body. Since antiquity, balneotherapy has been used to improve circulation, fortify the immune system, and relieve pain and stress.



kal-DARE-ee-um Hottest room in ancient Roman baths where people would soak in steaming water to detoxify. Modern versions may not have a pool of hot water, but all use humidity or steam, sometimes infused with essential oils.


Cold Plunge

A circulation-stimulating pool of frigid water designed to be used in conjunction with sauna or steam room sessions.


Experience Shower

A shower that suggests or evokes a natural element (e.g., a tropical storm or rain forest) through changes in lighting schemes and water pressure, often with an infusion of aromatherapy.



A room in ancient Roman baths where bathers plunged into a cold pool of water to refresh and close pores after visiting the warmer areas. Modern versions similarly revitalize visitors after they undergo heat treatments



The first free-standing whirlpool bath was introduced by Roy Jacuzzi in 1968, of the famous inventing Jacuzzi family, whose members were also responsible for advances in agriculture and aviation. Though many companies manufacture whirlpool baths today, Jacuzzi is the trademarked name for the invention.


Japanese Ofuro Bath

Hot, bubbling bath used for relaxation and usually enjoyed in the nude at a Japanese sento (public bath) or onsen (hot spring).


Kneipp Bath

Water therapy originated in the mid-1800s by Germany’s Father Sebastian Kneipp, a holistic teacher and proponent of natural remedies. Originally involving dips in the icy Danube, the modern version involves immersion in both warm and cold water, movement therapies, massage, herbal medicine, and nutrition.


Krauter Bath

Based on German natural remedy, this is a strong, aromatic herbal bath solution.



la-CO-nee-um Hot room with relatively low humidity that was part of ancient Roman baths. Milder than a Finnish sauna, the laconium helps users eliminate toxins through perspiration


Mineral Spring

A source of thermal water containing naturally occurring elements from surrounding rocks, sand, and soil, that is used in hydrotherapy treatments.


Moor Peat Baths

Uses mud harvested from a moor or a peat marsh that is rich in proteins, organic matter, vitamins, and minerals. It is used as a body or facial treatment to hydrate and exfoliate the skin and in a bath to ease aches and pains.


Roman Bath

A complex of hot, warm, and cold pools and rooms where ancient Romans would go to communally bathe and socialize. (See also caldarium, frigidarium, laconium, and tepidarium.)


Scotch Hose

Water massage through high-pressure hose while client is standing. The therapist alternates hot and cold and fresh or saltwater to relieve sore muscles and stimulate circulation.


Steam Room

Room where temperatures are kept at 110 to 130 F and humidity is generated in order to soften the skin, clean the pores, calm the nervous system, and relieve tension.


Swiss Shower

Treatment that involves powerful shower jets directed at the body from various heights and at different temperatures to simulate an invigorating massage.



tep-eh-DAHR-ee-um Warm room in ancient Roman baths where visitors would prepare for bathing. The modern version is a heated lounge area with comfortable furniture where guests can relax before and after treatments.



thah-LAH-so-THER-ah-pee Umbrella term describing variety of treatments that use seawater, seaweed, and other natural elements from the ocean for therapeutic benefits. Treatments include underwater jet massage, different types of showers, mineral baths, and seaweed or algae wraps. (See also hydrotherapy.)


Thermal Springs

A spring of naturally occurring hot water.


Vichy Shower

VEE-shee A shower treatment, often enjoyed after a body wrap or scrub, in which five to seven water jets spray water on the back of a client lying prone on a cushioned table. Inspired by treatments in the French thermal spa city of Vichy, it is meant to reduce stress, hydrate, and improve circulation.



Whirlpool baths can supplement spa services by providing stress-relieving, therapeutic hydromassage. Regular uses of whirlpools are often prescribed by doctors to patients experiencing chronic pain or recovery from injury. Most baths are equipped with hydrojets utilizing electric pumps and automated air vents to soothe muscle tension, aches, and pains with streams of heated water that can be directed by the bather(s).