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Spa Glossary

Acupressure – Oriental technique of applying pressure to specific “pressure points” to improve the flow of energy.
Acupuncture – Oriental technique of inserting needles into specific pressure points to stimulate healing and balance.
Algotherapy – A form of thalassotherapy where thin layers of heated seaweed are applied to the skin; infra-red lamps are also used in the treatment to maintain the heat of the prepared seaweed. Treatment reduces pain and functions as an anti-inflammatory.
Aromatherapy – Twentieth century term which is based on the ancient practice of utilizing essential oils to heal by therapeutically stimulating the nasal/olfactory senses, mental responses, circulatory and respiratory functions.
Ayurveda – Eastern Indian philosophy and practice of utilizing herbal and other folklore adaptations, as well as meditation, to create a balance between the internal and external self
Balneotherapy – Water therapies used to treat a variety of ailments, including stress, arthritis, circulation, etc. Employs mineral, salt or purified water.
Basti – Ayurvedic herbal purification treatment.
Biofeedback – Tracking method of physiological responses and behavioral reaction to various situational stimuli. Used as an attempt in understanding human behavior and developing programs of modification to restore well-being.
Body Composition Analysis – Any method (caliper, electro, etc.) used to determine the percentage ratio of body fat to lean muscle. Used as part of a weight reduction/exercise program.
Brush and Tone – Exfoliating treatment involving the dry brushing of skin to remove dead cells and stimulate circulation, and then applying hydrating oils or moisturizing agents to soften the skin. The dry brushing technique may also be used as a preparatory step for other treatments such as a seaweed wrap or fango/parafango.
Cathiodermie – Electric stimulation of skin, in low voltage doses, believed to stimulate circulation and remove impurities.
Cell Therapy – This therapy involves the injection of processed tissue from the organs, embryos, or fetuses of animals such as sheep or cows. This therapy is not FDA approved and serious side effects can result
Circuit Training – Exercise regimen using a series of weight training devices combining the resistance with aerobics.
Clinical Esthetician – Skin care specialist who may work in a medical environment, but not necessarily with a physician, on the treatment of skin related ailments.
Colonic Irrigation– encompasses the use of tubes to inject water, sometimes mixed with herbs or other liquids into the colon via the rectum; this therapy is intended to remove feces and nonspecific toxins from the colon and intestinal tract
Complementary Medicine – Non-traditional forms of medical therapies used to treat a variety of illnesses/deficiencies; these include vitamins, herbs, aromatherapy, meditation, massage, etc.
Craniosacral Therapy – Massage therapy focusing on the head and neck.
Crenotherapy – Any treatment incorporating mineral water, mud and vapor.
Dancercize – Aerobic regimen utilizing dance steps or routines.
Dead Sea Mud Treatment – As stated. This type of fango is nutrient and mineral rich and known for its detoxification and exfoliation properties.
Doshas – Ayurvedic body functions; Vata for blood, circulation and healing; Pitta for heat and metabolism; and Kapha for the structure of one’s spiritual and philosophical self.
Dulse Scrub – Exfoliating body treatment, which utilizes dulse seaweed powder, which has been rehydrated with either water or an essential oil. This treatment removes impurities and dead skin cells and re-mineralizes the skin.
Duo Massage – Synchronous massage treatment done by two therapists; done properly, the sense of touch isn’t discernible that four hands are performing the treatment.
Endermologie – Developed in France, this massage therapy significantly reduces the appearance of cellulite, while defining the figure; performed by an esthetician specifically trained in this therapy.
Effleurage – Massage technique of quick long strokes used in the preparatory stage and the conclusion of the treatment.
Essential Oils – The aromatic (liquid) substance extracted from roots, bark, flowers, grasses, etc., which are then used as part of a cosmetic or therapeutic treatment, such as aromatherapy.
Esthetician – Skin care specialist who focuses on the treatment of skin as part of a beauty therapy such as a facial or the treatment and maintenance of healthy skin.
Exfoliation – The process of removal and sloughing of dead skin cells. This process also aids in improving circulation through stimulating blood flow. The pressure used to generate the process, further aids in relaxation and stress reduction.
Fango Therapy – Treatment utilizing various types of mud, which are rich in minerals and nutrients. Mud removes toxins from the skin’s pores, and aids in the exfoliation process as well.
Flotation Tank – A tank filled with enough salt water so a person can float in it; lights are either dimmed or turned off. The combination of a darkened room and the floating process is an aid to relaxation and stress reduction.
Golden Spoons – A product utilizing twenty-three karat plated “spoons” used as part of a facial; one is hot (actually warm to the touch) and the other is cold. The facialist applies alternately each one to generate efficacious penetration of the creams and lotions, and also to open and close pores, stimulating circulation. Based on the Kneipp Treatment Principle of alternating hot/cold, cold/hot.
Gommage – Body treatment that cleanses and rehydrates utilizing various creams applied in long massage-like strokes.
Hamam – Turkish/Middle Eastern communal bath house.
Herbal Wrap – Body treatment utilizing herb soaked linen sheeting, which is wrapped around the body. Person is then covered with a blanket and has a cold compress applied to forehead. Treatment lasts between twenty and thirty minutes. Stimulates circulation, detoxification and relaxation. The treatment process elevates body temperatures and heart rates. Not recommended for those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or when pregnant.
Herbalism – A health alternative to treating certain non-life threatening ailments with plants and plant essences. May also be referred to as “folk medicine”.
Holistic Medicine/Health – Has its roots in “herbalism”, but also incorporates other forms of non-traditional approaches/beliefs such as Eastern disciplines, meditation, etc. The relationship of one with all elements such as environmental, physical, spiritual, emotional, etc., and the balance between those elements.
Hydrotherapy – Another term for balneotherapy, or any treatments utilizing water as the primary facilitator. Type of water is generally fresh/spring, as opposed to seawater (thalassotherapy).
Inhalation Therapy – Treatments involving the inhalation of steam vapor, which may have been treated with medicine or natural herbal / mineral substances; used for respiratory, pulmonary or sinus related ailments.
Ionization – A form of thalassotherapy where seawater has been ionized with negative ions, sprayed and inhaled; aids the upper respiratory tract.
Japanese Enzyme Bath – Wooden tub filled with fibrous material (such as wood chips)and plant enzymes, which naturally ferment creating a heated substance. Person is submerged in the mixture and allowed sweating out toxins; aids in the relaxation process, improves circulation and metabolism. Treatment time generally doesn’t exceed one hour.
Japanese Facial – Energizing technique used to stimulate acupressure points through the lifting and toning of the face and scalp; believed to have a cumulative effect when used on a regular basis for firming the skin and preventing aging.
Kinesitherapy – Also referred to as physiotherapy, this treatment involves the active or passive movement of various parts of the body, and aids in the circulatory and strengthening of the body.
Kneipp Baths – Developed by Father Sebastian Kneipp. Herbal/mineral baths used as part of a regimented therapy of healing; used in combination with nutritional and exercise disciplines. Hot and cold therapy is a key component of this form of therapy (water, stones, pebbles, etc.).
Loofah Scrub – Body treatment utilizing the dead loofah plant as a friction implement to massage and exfoliate dead skin cells. Also improves circulation and relaxation.
Lymph Drainage – A massage treatment, which stimulates circulation, reduces edema (water retention) and frees up stored toxins, encouraging them to “flow” out of the body. Treatment is done either through manual massage, or as part of a hydrotherapy massage.
Marine Hydrotherapy – A form of thalassotherapy bath/shower, where water jets propel the seawater; massages, stimulates and reduces pain/inflammation
Medical Esthetician – Skin care specialist who works in a medical environment along with a physician in either a pre-operative or post-operative situation.
Meditation – Any form of focusing on a specific thought, memory, breathing, etc. which encourages one to relax and achieve a greater sense of inner-self; to connect and balance the internal with the external-self.
Moor Peat Bath – Organic material, nutrient rich used to alleviate stiffness and pain in localized areas.
Morphology – Attributed to Hippocrates, this specialized form of massage targets specific digestive areas; massage is done in combination with essential oils; this massage therapy requires specialised training and may be barred from practice in some states. The therapy is used to improve digestion and eliminate waste from the colon tract.
Naturopathy – The discipline of natural medicine and healing through the power of nature and all natural substances.
NIA – Non-impact aerobics; beneficial, yet not as rigorous as traditional aerobic exercise regimens.
Oleation – Ayurvedic adapted treatment using friction massage of blended essential oils (similar to an aromatherapy massage).
Oxygen Facial – Oxygen and other nutrients applied topically or sprayed onto the face to stimulate and reinforce the collagen level of skin; an aid to preventing aging.
Panchakarma – Ayurvedic cleansing and purification treatments using essential oils, massage and meditation techniques.
Parafango – The combination of paraffin and fango (mud). Used to detoxify, heat and exfoliate
Paraffin wax – Heated/melted wax that has been infused with hydrating/emollient substances, menthol, etc. Used to ease pain and/or rehydrate.
Parcours – Outdoor exercise trail, usually less than two miles, with interspersed exercise stations.
Physiochineitherapy – Therapeutic use of heat, light, electrical and mechanical means and movements to regenerate strength and flexibility.
Polarity Massage – A technique of gently rocking, holding and massaging to stimulate relaxation, restore energy flow and encourage revitalization.
Radon Therapy – An inert gas used in many European spas as part of a treatment process believed to stimulate organ functions and promote improved secretions of the glands, without any harmful effects of radiation.
Reflexology – Ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Indian therapy, which treats the whole body through the touching of reflexes and their manipulation; primarily done on the feet, but also done on hands and ears. The feet are believed to be microcosms of the entire body, having relational points which correlate to specific body parts, especially major organs and the circulatory system.
Reiki – Massage technique using subtle stationary hand positions on points of tension or injury; the therapists hands are usually fully extended, and palms applied to the affected area.
Rolfing – Massage technique requiring specific certification, which involves extremely deep tissue massaging and often-painful manipulation of injured areas. The massage is sought by those who require intensified treatment.
Roman Bath – Ancient Romans had numerous baths that were used alternately; hot, warm and cold. The varying temperatures aided in stimulating the circulatory system.
Salt Glow – A hydrating and exfoliating treatment where small amounts of oil and coarse salt are applied to dampened skin in circular or elongated strokes. Also aids in circulation.
Sauna – A Finnish treatment of dry heat, in a wooden structure; the heat forces sweating and the elimination of toxins; open pores. A cold shower usually follows to close the opened pores and to stop the sweating process.
Scotch Hose/Swiss Shower – A water therapy treatment combining the use of stationary water jets (12 to 16) which are aimed at pressure areas of the skin; the water alternates between hot/cold, while an attendant also uses a hose targeted at specific pressure points; water temperature of attendant’s hose fluctuates between hot and cold. Stimulates circulation and relieves tension. Both treatments can be used/applied separately
Shiatsu – Japanese massage technique of acupressure used to stimulate pressure points and improve energy flow.
Shiro Dhara – Ayurvedic treatment of warmed oil slowly pouring over one’s middle of the forehead, where it is believed the third eye resides. Induces relaxation.
Siddha Vaidya – Ayurvedic massage treatment where a pouch of blended herbs is dipped in essential oils and massaged over the body.
S.P.A. – Latin for “solus per aqua” or, to enter by means of water. Others have interpreted this to mean “health through water”
Spa – Facility where one goes for a variety of health and beauty treatments, whether to relax, rejuvenate, exercise or to get pampered.
Spinning – Stationary bicycle exercise regime guided with an instructor; often combines a video projected image to give one the impression that they are cycling on a terrain of some sort.
Sports Massage – Technique of using quick and vigorous strokes, such as deep tissue, on localized body parts where a specific activity may have caused exertion and muscle tightness.
Steam Room – Area of wet, hot steam; promotes sweating, opening pores and ridding the skin of toxins.
Step Aerobics – Fitness regimen of aerobic exercise in combination with a step platform three or more inches high.
Sugaring – Is a method of hair removal using sugar and fabric strips.
Swedish Massage – Massage technique employing the gentle but firm manipulation of pressure points and muscles; skin is lubricated with either a single or blended oil to promote friction and ease of manipulation of the skin.
Swiss Shower – Refer to Scotch Hose/Swiss Shower.
Tai Chi – Chinese martial art discipline employing deliberate/relaxed breathing and mental focus, in combination with slow sustained physical movements.
Thalassotherapy – Any treatment employing the utilization of sea water and marine by-products, which are mineral and nutrient rich, and which have a curative or restorative property, benefiting the internal and external. From the Greek “thalassa”, or sea.
Trager Massage – Technique of gentle rhythmic rocking movements to induce relaxation and relieve tension.
Ultra Sound – A therapy using sound waves emitted from a frequency-generating device. The device may also have the capability of utilizing heat as part of the therapy. Often employed by physical therapists to alleviate pain and discomfort to injured areas of the body.
Vichy Shower – Multi-jet mechanism suspended over a wet-table used as part of various treatments such seaweed wrap, dulse scrub, fango, gommage, etc. Used to not only rinse any remains of the treatment’s substance from the body, but also to relax and stimulate circulation.
Watsu Massage – A treatment combining the benefits of water tank floatation and the rhythmic and methodical stretching of limbs. Aids in flexibility and relaxation.
Waxing – Hair removal treatment using cold or hot wax.