Water is very much on the minds of many people at the moment. The West Coast is in its fourth year of drought while much of the rest of the nation is experiencing record rainfall and flood. Nature is offering a reminder of her power and is forcing many to wake up and not take her precious resources for granted.
In many traditional healing systems, including Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and Ancient Greek medicine, water is known as one of the five great elements. Along with its obvious physical properties, like wetness and fluidity, Water as an archetypal energy is believed to carry emotion, provide support, and allow the mind to be flexible. When the body’s water element is in balance people feel comfortable in their own skin and comforted by their environment. They feel at peace and are in the flow. They are able to fully respond with ease to changes and life’s challenges. Calmness and compassion arise effortlessly. They can enjoy life. On the other hand, when the water element is out of balance, people sense a lack of well-being. They may feel unproductive, out of touch with their emotions, and out of sync with their surroundings.
THE BODY’S USE OF WATER
After any sort of training in survival skills or after a desperate need for water, many know that water is also one of the most basic needs. Humans can live just three minutes without air, three hours without shelter from extreme heat or cold, and only three short days without water. The human body is 65 to 71 percent water and is essential for every bodily function. Water flows through the blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells and flushing waste from the body. It cushions the joints and soft tissues. Without water, humans cannot even digest or absorb food. Professionals learn from their training in the spa and beauty industries that water is needed to keep the skin properly hydrated, smooth, and soft to the touch.
Indeed, water is vital for both health and beauty. Interestingly, the word spa is believed to be an acronym for the Latin phrase ‘salus per aquea’ or ‘sanitus per aquam,’ which means health through water. This phrase shows that people have known this connection a long time. Still, even though there is “nothing new under the sun,” there are some modern day discoveries and confirmations about water knowledge that are worth noting. Here are 10 things to know about this beautiful, vital element.
- Water can help with a youthful appearance. “You can look significantly younger just by keeping your skin hydrated,” says Howard Murad, M.D “Water naturally plumps skin, fills in fine lines and wrinkles, and boosts a lackluster complexion.” If the client’s skin looks dull, their eyes look a little sunken, and they report that their energy is low and their mind is depressed or foggy, they should start with a drink of water and a spritz to their face. Using a mineral water spritz is a great way to directly hydrate the skin. This technique, along with drinking enough good, clean water, is a great and essential combination.
- Water can help with weight loss. A study presented at last year’s National Meeting of the American Chemical Society reported that adults who drank two, eight-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner lost an average of five pounds more than dieters who did not sip extra water. If feeling hungry, try drinking water first. When humans are mildly dehydrated, the body can induce the feeling of hunger rather than thirst.
- Plain water versus the water in tea or coffee. There has been much confusion on this point. Because the caffeine in both tea and coffee have a diuretic effect, the theory was that they went straight through. However, latest research says habitual caffeine consumers develop a tolerance to the diuretic effects, much like how a tolerance is developed to the stimulating effects. The same report also stated that “doses of caffeine equivalent to the amount normally found in standard servings of tea, coffee, and carbonated soft drinks appear to have no diuretic action.” So many beverages can contribute to the fluid requirement, such as coffee, tea, fruit juice, broth, vegetable juice, sports drinks and low fat milk, since they are primarily water. Even juicy fruits and vegetables count. The one exception is alcohol. Water is the best thirst quencher and has no calories.
- The appropriate amount of water. It is often recommended to drink eight to 11 eight-ounce glasses of water daily. This rule is not firm and should be determined in relation to weight and activity level. A rule of thumb often suggested is to take the weight and divide it in half. That number is roughly the number of ounces that should be consumed daily. For example, a person who weighs 120 pounds needs about 60 ounces of water a day. More water may be recommended if that person is nursing or is on certain medications. Carry water in a glass or stainless steel container and sip it often. Some plastic containers not only make water taste bad, but also leak chemicals into the water that can be harmful to good health.
- The truth about tap water. Most of the tap water in United States is cleaned with small amounts of chlorine, a toxic chemical. It efficiently kills harmful microbes that cause disease, but also kills friendly microbes that help with food digestion and production of vitamins B12 and K. Recent studies from the Human Microbiome Project show that these are the very microbes that help keep the skin comfortable, clear, and glowing. Acne, eczema, rashes, and inflammation of all kinds are now being associated with microbe imbalances in the skin that are not helped by chlorinated-water exposure. Chlorine also destroys vital proteins, vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fatty acids that can make the skin very dry. Other studies showed that chlorinated water promotes the aging process, similar to the effects of extended exposure to the sun. Keep showers and baths short and use oil immediately after. Oil feeds the beneficial microbes and helps restore a healthy microbial balance.
- The truth about bottled water. People generally feel that bottled water is cleaner, healthier, and better tasting, but there are some serious downsides. Again, chemicals in the plastics can leak into the water, specifically chemicals that cause hormonal imbalances. Furthermore, FDA testing for purity is very limited. NRDC studies found one-fifth of the tested brands of bottled water “exceeded state bottled water microbial guidelines in at least some samples.”
- The best water for the skin. Just as certain chemicals in water can damage the skin, certain trace minerals can be very therapeutic. For example, bathing in mineral springs can make the skin silky and soft. Natural hot springs will often publish which minerals are in their water. Calcium sulphate waters are good for chronic skin diseases while magnesium sulphate water soothes and tightens the skin and allows for the retention of moisture. Silica restores health to aging skin, hair, and nails and sulfur soothes all sorts of skin inflammation. Bathe in hot springs as much as possible, dip in the ocean, or enjoy an invigorating spritz with mineral water all over.
- Colloidal minerals in water and cosmetics. A colloid is a tiny, charged particle that is easily absorbed by the skin. Gold and copper colloids are used in cosmetics to support collagen and colloidal silver is used as an anti-inflammatory. Look for these ingredients when buying moisturizers and toners.
- Water is called the universal solvent. Water is known as the universal solvent because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid, making it the simplest, cheapest cleanser. Washing with soap and water is still the best way to clean the hands. It is better and more effective than sanitizers. With new microfiber technology, water is also a great way to clean the face. Try adding a hydrosol, the water soluble part from the production of essential oil, into the wash basin. Lean over and bathe the face in the fragrance while gently pressing and releasing the skin. This works to pump the lymphatic system, which improves circulation and deeply flushes toxins from the skin. For those with sensitive skin, try using a soft, microfiber washcloth and plain warm water to remove makeup.
- Water is magical. Water is therapeutic in all its forms, including the warmth and comfort of steam, the invigorating nature of a shower, or the shockingly-refreshing quality of ice. It brings all the senses alive. Even the sound of waves, waterfalls, fountains, and water features are used to calm the nerves. Its moisture transports the taste of food on the tongue and its vapors carry aroma (like a spray of rosewater). People bathe and float in it to both wash and relax as it touches the skin. Even when gazing at the sea, a lake, or a stream, it brings joy. Through the amazing research of Masaru Emoto, author of Hidden Messages in Water, it is known that water responds to human presence and words. A simple way to improve the quality of water is to have a label with a positive word or phrase on it, like beauty, joy, or love. While watching the news and weather on television, be grateful for every drop of clean water coming out of the tap. Even with droughts and floods most Americans in the United States have hot and cold water flowing into their homes. Although clean water should be a basic human right, it is actually a privilege.
The pioneer of integrating Indian and Tibetan Ayurvedic bodywork techniques in the spa and beauty industry, Melanie Sachs has worked steadily over the last twenty-five years to bring the benefits of these sacred healing arts to the western world. Founding Diamond Way Ayurveda in 1996 with her husband, Sachs provide excellence in education and the pure Ayurvedic spa products and equipment with which to perform these classic treatments. Sachs is author of Ayurvedic Beauty Care and Ayurvedic Spa. ‘Diamond Way’ comes directly from the Tibetan meaning that our path to the highest joy is through helping others. It is this core belief is the fuels the energy behind her work.