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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Water Cures to Cleanse the Body Inside Out

When it comes to stress relief, the best answer sometimes is to take as hedonistic a route as possible: relaxing, swimming, falling asleep in bubbling water. No such treatment, however, would be complete without treating the innards as well. And, that's where water comes into play.

Some doctors claim that 80 percent of all diseases are caused by poor drinking water. But other waters -- mineral waters -- can heal. Fortunately for those looking to take the cure at a spa, in places from Jordan to suburban Moscow, this is prime time in terms of price, availability and weather.

The restorative workings of the spas' waters are subtle and complex, depending on factors like the temperature, frequency and quantity of water imbibed. Different spas are famous for treating different ailments, but nearly all claim to be good for rheumatism, arthritis, respiratory illnesses, skin diseases, circulatory problems, digestive disorders and gynecological complaints. Upon arrival at a spa, guests are typically given a check-up by a balneologist and then prescribed a treatment regime that usually involves a daily water or mud session, massage, rest and exercise.

Some ailments that often are treated with radical procedures such as surgery may sometimes be treated less drastically with curative waters. It is a meticulous method, but fortunately the spas listed here are often located in places designed not only for treatment but also for fun.

Take, for example, the Izmir resort on the Turkish coast which boasts one of that country's biggest casinos and a five-star hotel with mineral water flowing from each room's faucets, according to Lena Tyumeneva, who sells package tours to Izmir for the Moscow-based Sarapis agency (tel. 242-8951). The cost for one week, based on double occupancy, is $617 per person, which includes airfare, two meals a day and access to a swimming pool filled with mineral water. Treatments ranging from thermal baths to hot-wax joint treatment cost extra and are priced between $10 and $25.

This time of year, Tyumeneva said, is ideal because, "there are less people, especially Russians. When there are a lot of us, it's uncontrollable."

For $693, treatment seekers can go to Pamukkale in the mountains of Turkey, a place specializing in waters which, like Izmir, treats varicose veins, joints, salty deposits and digewtive and respiratory problems.

Although fall is the time to find bargains at most European spas, those located in the Dead Sea area raise their prices at this time of year because it is only now that the heat becomes bearable. All the same, those suffering from cancer, heart problems and hypertension are advised to stay away from the regions's hot, wet climate, said Yevgenia Danishevskaya of the Leoness travel agency (tel. 229-6113), which offers packages to three- and five-star hotels and clinics in Israel and Jordan. Most clinics in the area specialize in addressing specific aches and pains. The facility in the Israeli town of Arad, for example, boasts an effective cure for asthma as patients are exposed night and day to the vapors coming off the Dead Sea, located some 1,000 meters below.

The Dead Sea itself is billed by the Leoness staff as beneficial for those complaining of back, joint and skin ailments. The current price for a stay on the Israeli side is $1,540 per person, double occupancy, and includes round-trip airfare, transfers, two meals a day and some medical services. The same package on the Jordanian side goes for $1,250.

One of the few places offering to help smokers with chronic bronchitis is the Montegrotto Therme in northern Italy, where guests take respiratory cures by sitting in caves full of humid, mineral-infused air. The same area is also the setting for hydromassages and cosmetic mud therapy sessions.

One week at the Montegrotto Therme, purchased through the Kosmopolis (tel. 299-1431) agency costs per person $820 for a single room, $793 for a double. Prices include an Italian visa, medical insurance and three meals a day but not airfare.

None of these spas offers quickie cures. The advice of Lyudmila Kurbatova, who sells cures in the Czech Republic for Yasson-Travel (tel. 206-0793), is typical: "If you really want to improve your health, the best thing would be to go there for three weeks. It doesn't make sense to spend money for a one week-stay."

For those on the chubby side or with diabetes, Kurbatova recommends the world-renowned resort area known as Karlovy Vary. This is the place to find three- and five-star hotels offering two-week treatment packages starting at $1,442 per person, double occupancy, with airfare.

Germany and Austria have some of the world's most expensive spas. Through Moscow's Esti (tel. 246-1263), two weeks at Germany's Bad Hall at double occupancy rates, including "serious treatments," according to an Esti employee, and medical insurance costs $2,636 per person. Airfare and visa cost an additional $500.

Those with asthma and blood circulation disorders can head to the spa at Badgastein located in the Alps near Salzburg. Here, hot radon-rich springs and salty-tasting vapors from artificially heated former salt mines create a sort of natural sauna. A stay at the three-star hotel in a single room costs $100 per day, per person and in a double room $80. Visa and airfare cost $280.

To take a water cure, of course, there is no reason to leave the former Soviet Union, with its rich sources of mineral water. Mir-Tour (tel. 946-0556) offers treatment packages to destinations well known to anyone who has ever seen a bottle of Narzan, Yessentuki or Borjomi. Nestled in the Caucasus, these are the places where generations of Russians have gone to take water cures. Mir-Tour offers 24-day packages with three meals and basic treatments for 6 million rubles ($1,127). Transportation is not included.

For a taste of how the Communist elite once took the cure, contact the Taver agency (tel. 301-4542) which sells flexible packages to places like Yalta's Kirov sanatorium, which costs $34 a day with three meals. Not far away is the famous Foros, a favorite of Mikhail Gorbachev and priced at $45 a day with meals. Prices go down by $6 after Sept. 10.

And finally, Mir-Tour offers sanatoriums conveniently located not far from Moscow. Dorokhovo, 95 kilometers outside the city, boasts water rich in chloride and sodium with a high concentration of iron and carbonic acid. The water, along with peat mud, promises relief from stress, rheumatism, arthritis and skin problems. The day rate is 140,000 rubles per person double occupancy and includes three meals.

The most popular destination, according to a Mir-Tour employee, is Rus, a sanatorium once used by the Central Committee in the village of Ruza outside Moscow. "The only better place is Barvikha," he said, referring to Boris Yeltsin's preferred residence (although Yeltsin, too, will be taking the waters at Rus on an extended "working vacation"). One day at the Finnish-equipped resort, which specializes in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders, costs 280,000 rubles per person, a double occupancy price that includes three meals, swimming pool and tennis court privileges along with basic treatments.