Take a moment to breathe.
Imagine you are cocooned in a warmed mud wrap, comfortably resting on a padded spa table while the soothing sounds of music allow you to float away. Just with this simple thought you’re relaxed, right?
This thought is where I found myself not too long ago and suddenly my massage therapist brain kicked in. I wondered if our clients really knew the benefit behind such a relaxing treatment, or if they knew what the mud was doing for them.
After another deep breath, another thought crossed my mind. Do our clients wonder where the idea of slathering mud all over our bodies came from?
As a massage therapist, I know the varieties of mud, their benefits, and how mud can help our bodies systemically, but I like to take any opportunity I can to educate my clients on the full benefits of mud.
By sharing this information, it gives them an opportunity to fully understand that there is more to mud than just a relaxing and feel good service. And it’s no wonder why we keep coming back for more!
The Peat Bog Man
Mud is extraordinary.
One of the most famous examples of mud’s benefits is the Tollund Peat Bog Man, which was a man found preserved in an unbelievable state within in a peat bog for thousands of years without any additional preservations.
The researchers found that in order to get this preservation, this mud had to have a high concentration of bio-minerals, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, plant hormones and fatty acids. In this case, mud had an uncanny ability to heal, nourish and preserve the Bog Man.
This example is only the beginning of the uses and properties of mud.
There are uncovered benefits of mud that go beyond beauty and aid in the healing of conditions found within the body that will not only detoxify, but will also increase circulation, improve skin, treat skin conditions, and relieve aches and pains.
Before you dig up mud to create your own therapeutic treatment just be warned that mud from your backyard is certainly not what you want to use in your practice. I’d leave the sourcing of this dark, goopy gold up to the professionals.
Therapeutic mud is sourced at different depths of the earth where it is lacking present day pollution and limited oxygen levels.
Mud has been there long enough for the natural decomposition process of plant, botanical, organic matter, or solid substances to become ultimately ground into fine paste that becomes therapeutic mud.
Besides its obvious properties, therapeutic mud can be diverse in its benefits.
Whether you are using moor mud, thermal mud, Alaskan glacial mud, Sedona mud, or Dead Sea mud (just to name a few).
It’s less about which type of mud you choose for your clients, and more about aligning your choice of mud to the benefits you are trying to pass along to your clientele.
On one hand, all mud is the same—at least in their goals to treat the skin and body.
On the other hand, what makes muds different are the trace elements, or properties found within the mud and the unique benefits that come from those specific elements.
Natural mud is sourced from around the world, and it will have the makeup of natural ingredients, indigenous flora, fauna, marine or mineral rich substances native to the location. The predominant properties and ingredients will reflect a unique variety of benefits.
Within all mud, there are two distinct properties. The first is a nutrient rich soil (generally referred to as mud), and is inclusive but not limited to organic or marine matter, plants, and botanicals, such as grass, herbs, peat, and flowers.
The properties within the soil, or mud, are water based and have a healing benefit to the skin and body.
Due to its water solubility, it creates an occlusive barrier and allows the body to absorb the natural nutrients found within the mud, or any added components such as essential oils for example.
The second property within the mud are minerals (referred to as clay or thermal mud). They are finely ground earth material, that can be a variety of, but not limited to, zinc, copper, magnesium and solid substances, or sulfur and volcanic ash.
The properties of clay or thermal mud have a cosmetic benefit that will reflect a drying or detoxification to the skin and body, which will create a purging or flushing benefit to rid the body of toxins and impurities.
Both mud and clay are one in the same, and you can’t have one without the other as trace ingredients are found within both.
This means clay and mud share the variety of benefits.
However, the predominant ingredients will influence the overall benefit of the mud. Both properties have systemic benefits, and together aid in the body’s natural ability to beautify, treat itself, or heal itself.
When used for beauty we can see the effects of softer and more hydrated skin because it increases circulation and offers an improvement of tone, texture, and overall appearance of our skin due to the rejuvenating of our body’s tissues. It’s also a wonderful re-mineralizer for our skin and muscles.
The cosmetic benefit can offer clearer skin, and it can treat skin conditions such as oily or acne prone skin, psoriasis, and eczema.
When considering the detoxification benefits of mud, it can aid in ailments that affect range of motion, rheumatic diseases, or arthritis.
Its anti-inflammatory benefit can improve muscle recovery time from surgical rehabilitation or sports related use, and it can relieve aches and pains systemically. It can influence the body and skin due to being hormonally balancing, and it can aid in improving our immune system.
Mud is an effective and natural option that can offer long term relief with no side effects. It is important to note, however, that in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration does not evaluate any kind of mud, and it is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases.
There is one more type of mud worth knowing about, and it is a compound that is developed, treated, or created for spas that’s labeled as mud because it is replicated to act like natural mud.
After all, it can have the same goals, and it uses as the authentic. This spa mud can also include natural mud in its ingredient list, but will also include a combination of ingredients that wouldn’t be found naturally combined on its own.
This mud can be created or mixed and blended with ingredients to align with a company’s story, or mission, creating a product that will speak to a certain audience offering a variety of benefits for specific goals and intensions.
An intriguing aspect of spa mud is that it can be created to have an alluring color, texture, and scent. This can be an alluring benefit or choice because natural mud is consistent in dark colors and tones, as well as earthy scents which doesn’t appeal to everyone.
It’s good to note that just because this mud compound created in the likeness of natural mud does not mean it must be synthetic.
Spa mud can be composed of organic products just as much as you can find synthetically derived spa mud. What you choose to use is up to you, your goals, and your philosophy.
Jaime Dubreuil, LMT, LE, LNT is a 14-year spa professional. She is a triple licensed practitioner, luxury spa director, massage college instructor, and a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork approved provider. Her high standards for quality, value and knowledge have propelled her business as a mentor and leader for spa business and likeminded professionals!