Sulfurous Balneotherapy in Poland: A Vignette on History and Contemporary Use.
Balneotherapy experiences a sharp increase in popularity during recent years. The present paper gives a perspective on the therapeutic use of mineral baths in the town of Solec-Zdroj in southeastern Poland, an old time spa endowed with rich natural sulfurous water resources. Historical aspects of the formation and development of the spa are presented, along with the contemporary insights into the plausible mechanisms and benefits of sulfide treatment, not only in otherwise hardly treatable chronic skin disorders but also in a variety of disease processes in organ systems. Sulfurous balneotherapy is not without potential risks, particularly for the skin, a tissue it is considered the most viable treatment for. The healing effect of sulfide waters does not increase in proportion to the sulfur content. As in every stimulus-based treatment, the stimulant strength should not go beyond the favorable hormetic boundaries of safety. Although the exact bioproperties of a high content of hydrogen sulfide in natural mineral springs are yet to be fully unraveled and understood in the context of healing capability, sulfide bath treatment is capable of growing and developing. It remains a cost-effective alternative to pharmaceutical products in a variety of disorders.