Last week I was blessed to be in northern California for a beautiful family wedding in the redwoods, which was food for the soul on many levels. (What could be better than celebrating love amongst the giants??)
Whenever I'm in the vicinity, I always extend my trip to include a visit to Calistoga for a bit of fangotherapy (otherwise known as a mud bath), which I discovered in my early 20's and have been running back for ever since - that's how good they are.
If you've never been, it involves lowering your body into a tub filled with a mixture of locally harvested volcanic ash, mineral-rich, 104 degree geothermal water, and peat moss. Ahhh....
How does it work exactly?
As our ancient ancestors around the world knew that not only is it incredibly relaxing but the healing powers of mud are many: improved skin (psoriasis, rosacea, eczema), reduction of joint pain (arthritis) and overall detoxification as the mud pulls impurities out, while also moisturizing and plumping up the skin cells.
The minerals in mud (sodium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, bromine and potassium) and the acids in peat (fulvic and humic), combine to both detoxify and hydrate the body in the high heat, leaving one feeling delightfully clean (ironically!) and energized.
The discovery of intact remains from ancient burials in the peat bogs of the northern British Isles have shown that one of peat's "most boasted benefits is its ability to prevent and reverse signs of aging. It presumably does so by shielding the skin from free radicals and boosting collagen production. Peat also helps improving cell turnover, increasing skin elasticity, and tightening pores. This powerful ingredient is also considered a gentle, mild astringent and an anti-inflammatory..." (Wendy Gould, The Klog)
These anti-inflammatory qualities of mud produces skin that feels and looks younger, a body free of aches and pains, and an overall sense of well-being even after only one bath.
In short, the experience is beyond wonderful.
(But that's just scratching the surface, as we'll see below...)
Can't get to Calistoga?
I'm happy to say that I've got the next best thing for you, which I've been using in one form or another since I serendipitously met a French-Canadian man named Marc Saint-Onge in 2008.
I had just come from a Calistoga mud bath and was surprised to learn that he was the supplier of peat to the spa I had used - small world! I could personally attest to the superior quality of that bath over the baths I had had in the past, and so I was happy to learn about Marc's product and vision.
As an orthotherapist for many years, he had come to believe that the two major reasons for disease were inflammation and oxidative stress, and had been successfully using a special local peat to help his clients reduce their pain and inflammation. The mud detoxified the heavy metals, oxygenated the cells, and returned the body to a more alkaline state.
The treatments were so easy, pleasurable and successful that he was determined to get the word out on a larger scale.
I was intrigued and had to know more! I traveled to Canada to see the bog and Marc's processing plant where he refined the mud into various products that could be both immersed in or orally consumed. You read that right - we can - and should - eat mud!
For thousands of years, the animal and avian kingdoms as well as native people have bathed in and eaten mud to detoxify and replenish themselves with minerals, which many studies have proven.
Marc was relentless in his search for the best way to make the mud easy to consume. In his own words, here's a quick summation of his quest and accomplishments...
But, not all mud is created equal...
Over the years, I lost touch with Marc but had a good stash of his mud baths to keep me going until I ran out and started searching for him without success until, again, serendipitously, a friend recently told me was back in business with an even better product line: Black Oxygen Organics.
Ecstatic, I jumped at the opportunity to experience his mud again!