Torf Moor Mud, also known as Moor Peat, is a medical grade and therapy quality peat. It is an organic substance, a product of natural decomposition of a multitude of plants under special geological conditions. Moor Mud consists of organic residue of herbs, flowers, and grasses. With over one thousand herbs, over one hundred organic compounds, and a host of trace minerals, vitamins, sterols, phyto-hormones, and essential oils, Moor Mud is a potent healing compound and therapy. Over thousands of years this residue was transformed into a fine paste that easily dissolves in water. Moor Mud has an unusual concentration of bio-minerals, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids, plant hormones, and fatty acids in a molecular form that is easily absorbed by the human skin. It is a plant extract not just from one plant, but hundreds that reflect the environment of the earth thousands of years ago, without present day pollution. Moor Peat contains humic and fulvic acids, which contain over seventy trace minerals in a chelated and colloidal form. Moor peat can contain numerous trace minerals, including feldspar, quartz, kaolin, magnesium, potassium, bromine, copper, zinc, iron, cobalt, iodine, magnesium, and sulfur.
Peat is the accumulation of pure organic material which contains at least 65% organic matter or less than 35% mineral content. The distribution of peat deposits is extensive. It constitutes 5-8% of the earth’s land surface and nearly 60% of the wetlands of the world are peat. The composition of peat varies from location to location. Some peat deposits are known for their medicinal and therapeutic qualities, just as some mineral springs are known for therapeutic qualities. Primarily, peat is made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Moor Peat is a complex material consisting of plant fibers that contain hemicellulose, cellulose, humic acids, fulvic acids, bitumens, waxes, resins, ash, and readily and nonreadily hydrolysable substances. These constituents in peat, especially lignin, contain polar functional groups such as alcohol, aldehydes, ketones, phenolic hydroxides, and ethers that can be involved in chemical bonding. Because of the polar character of some of the peat constituents, it has good applicability for specific sorption of dissolved solids, such as transition metals and polar organic molecules such as ammonia. In addition, peat has ion exchange properties because of the presence of humic acids. Peat is one of the few materials that behave like activated carbon, in that I adsorbs organics and also is similar to ion exchange resins, which adsorb a variety of substances such as heavy metals, which make it a good detoxifier. Moor Peat has high cation exchange capacity. The main exchangeable sites are the functional acid groups which are named humic acids. The most common exchangeable cations in Moor Peat are calcium, magnesium, aluminum, potassium, and sodium. Moor Peat also contains hydrogen sulfide. Moor Peat also has high heat retention, which gives it therapeutic value, especially in compresses.
The organic base substances of Moor Mud are preserved because, in the complete absence of oxygen, complete decomposition of organic matter does not take place. Under very special geological conditions and in the presence of certain bacteria, the plant matter undergoes a transformational process that produces a homogenous dark brown or black substance over thousands of years. During this transformational process, all of the organic and inorganic substances within the plants and are assimilated into the Moor Mud.
There are three types of Moor Peat: flat moor, high moor, and deep moor. Deep moor developed over long periods of time through a geological process where the layers of moor are pushed deep beneath the earth’s surface. Because of the high compression from geological pressure, Moor Peat’s therapeutic components are highly condensed and concentrated. Deep moor has the highest therapeutic and cosmetic benefits.
Torf Moor Mud’s ability to heal, nourish, and detoxify has been observed by people for millennia and used scientifically in European spas for well over a century. Moor Mud is used not only to beautify, but also for a multitude of ailments, from mobility problems, arthritis, and hormonal imbalance to post-surgery recovery and muscle recovery in sports medicine.
Within the medical and scientific communities, Moor therapy is known as Balneo-peat, Moor Peat, Moor Mud, Fangotherapy, and Peleotherapy. Over the past four centuries, the science of Moor Peat therapy, also falling under the sciences of Balneology, Medical Hydrology, and Medical Geology, has evolved into a medical specialty in Europe and parts of Asia, where special courses in balneotherapy, pelotherapy, and fangotherapy are offered to both physicians and nurses by major medical schools. Physicians believe that Moor Peat therapy facilitates healing in a number of ways. Over the past sixty years, hundreds of European and American scientists, hydrogeologists, medical hydrologists, and physicians have investigated Moor therapy including several on behalf of the Czech Republic, German, Austrian, Hungarian, and New York governments, and one by a Nobel Prize winner. Over six hundred studies have been conducted on Moor Therapy and there have been over a dozen international Congresses on Moor research attended by representatives of the scientific and medical establishments. Over twenty million Europeans use Moor therapy per year and Moor therapy is available on medical insurance programs in several European countries.
The medical actions of Moor Mud include: thermophysical, biochemical, anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, and natural antimicrobial, including antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal. Moor Mud also has chelatic properties, binding heavy metal isotopes, which makes it a strong detoxifier.
The medical properties of Moor Mud include that it is: bioavailable, has high heat retention, bacterial action, adsorbent, astringent, hormonal, anti-inflammatory, ion exchanging, and nerve stimulant. Research has also demonstrated that Moor Mud stimulates cortisol production in the body, decreasing pain and stress.
Indications for Moor Mud therapy in the medical literature include: rheumatic disorders and orthopedic complaints, including rheumatism, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, fibromyalgia, lumbago, muscle strain, and neuralgia; sequalae of an accident or operation on a joint or vertebra; and skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, fungi, and acne. Vascular complaints, including disorder of the venous system such as phlebitis, Raynaud’s syndrome, or varicose veins are also indicated. Disorders of the peripheral nervous system, such as neuropathies, are also indicated. Also indicated are gynecological problems, including inflammatory infections, endometriosis, infertility, menstrual disorders, ovarian disorders, uterine disorders, vaginitis, and hormonal problems. Digestive complaints, such as gastritis or constipation, as well as chronic disorders of the internal organs such as cholecystitis or gallbladder inflammation, constipation, colitis, gastritis, and hemorrhoids are also indicated.
Mechanisms of Action:
Absorption of Nutrients: With its unique biological, geological, and chemical properties, the healing factors of Moor Mud are easily bioavailable and readily assimilated by the body. When dissolved in a bath, Moor Mud’s healing agents are absorbed transdermally through the skin and absorbed into the blood via the skin capillaries.
Anti-inflammatory: Moor Mud possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties that are indicated for arthritis, gastrointestinal inflammation, and skin disorders. Recent research demonstrates the effectiveness of Moor Mud for osteoarthritis of the knee. Moor Peat is also indicated for sports injuries including strains, sprains, and bruising.
Detoxification and Biopurification: Moor Mud acts as a natural chelating agent due to various pectin substances and minerals which have the ability to bind and remove toxic metals such as lead, mercury, aluminum, copper, and cadmium from the tissues of the body and eliminate them safely through the channels of elimination.
Hormonal Modulation: Several research studies demonstrate that Moor Mud has a significant effect on regulating cortisol in the body, helping with inflammatory and joint disorders. Research also indicates that Moor Mud can regulate and modulate estrogen and progesterone.
Nervous System Stimulant: Moor Mud affects nervous system fibers situated between the cells of the epidermis. Reflexively, all organs are stimulated via the nervous systems from the Moor Mud.
Circulation System Stimulant: Moor Mud significantly affects circulation and blood flow to the skin. It improves blood flow by inducing vasoconstriction and vasodilation, creating a mechanical pumping action that improves blood circulation locally and systemically.
Cosmetic Effects of Moor Mud:
The active constituents of Moor Mud bind to and penetrate the cells of the outer skin. The binding process with the proteins in the skin results in an exchange of ions. Harmful positive ions in the tissue of the skin are exchanged for the rejuvenating negative ions in the Moor Mud. The particles are the absorbed into the blood stream generating a healing process throughout the body. Moor Mud’s cosmetic benefits result from the presence of essential oils, fatty acids, lipoids, and trace minerals, which occur naturally and are not artificially introduced. These substances penetrate easily into the skin and subcutaneous tissues, reestablishing the skins natural pH balance and improving blood circulation. Simultaneously, the skin is detoxified, purified, toned, and revitalized by soluble organic and inorganic active nutrients. Research demonstrates the active mineral and botanical constituents in Moor Mud are helpful in treating various skin problems such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, burns, scars, stretch marks, and cellulite. Moor Mud improves cellulite, which consists of lumpy deposits in the subcutaneous layer caused by an excess of toxins and metabolic waste, poor blood circulation, and fluid retention due to poor lymphatic circulation, by acting on both the deposits and their causes. Moor Mud is naturally hypoallergenic, removes excess oil from the skin, and is hydrating to the skin. It also helps promote skin regeneration.
There is significant evidence, both empirical and scientific, that demonstrate the effectiveness of Moor Mud therapy with a wide variety of human ailments and conditions. There is also scientific evidence that demonstrates the positive effects of Moor Mud therapy on physiological and biochemical functions within the human body. Moor Mud therapy has thermal, mechanical, and chemical effects that can aid in healing. Europe, Asia, and elsewhere still maintain the healing tradition of Moor Mud therapy and the science of medical hydrogeology. Our challenge is to continue to generate cogent scientific data that will demonstrate therapeutic effectiveness and cost effectiveness in order to incorporate Moor Mud therapy into our healthcare system.
Les Moore, ND, MSOM, LAc.
Medical Hydrology and Geology Consulting
Clifton Springs, NY 14432
1 315 462-1350
By JOSEPHINE SCHMIDT
Published: April 21, 2002
IN Saratoga I've sipped the waters, in Montecatini I've had dense Tuscan mud slapped on my face, and in Yalta a skin-searing sauna and sea-water dunk left me tingling for days. Yet in all of these places, however pleasant, I thought of Karlovy Vary. A proper spa vacation, I've decided, really requires grand colonnades and meandering wooded paths for ambling, plenty of little shops that transform small luxuries into absolute necessities and a dietary regiment that encourages abundant helpings of whipped cream.
For centuries before it was left to slumber behind Czechoslovakia's Iron Curtain, Karlovy Vary -- Karlsbad in German -- was a legendary European spa, its therapeutic mineral springs attracting the fashionable and the fawning, the earliest It Girls and the truly ailing. Peter the Great visited twice, and Emperor Franz Josef found time for a repeat trip, too. Beethoven, Liszt and Chopin took the waters and called at the right cafes, as did Goethe, Turgenev and Tolstoy. Even Marx submitted to some pampering, though he probably didn't call it that since he was in the midst of drafting ''Das Kapital.''Lore has it that Karlovy Vary got its start in the mid-14th century, when Charles IV was both king of Bohemia and Roman emperor. A group of his attendants, chasing a stag through the woods, were suddenly summoned by the howls of a hunting dog. They discovered the hound paddling in a pool of steaming water and, after fishing it out, founded Karlovy Vary -- literally Charles's Spring.
Baths in the waters from the town's 14 springs were first prescribed to treat a host of disorders. Those early soaks, hours long, were nicknamed ''skin eaters'' and could sometimes be worse than the ailments, leaving the skin chapped, raw and oozing. Some patients prepared their wills before arriving. Later, the drinking cure was added, at one point requiring as many as 50 cups of water a day. Between treatments, there were concerts and dances, visits over coffee and cake, and terrain therapy -- strolls through the steep, pine-crested woods that rim the town, the hills traversed with scenic lookout points, shady wooden summerhouses and, of course, pubs and cafes.
Today things aren't much different, although as I found on a brief trip in December with my mother, Dolores, the baths are now delightfully bubbly and the water is consumed by the cup, not the gallon.
During the hour or so it took to maneuver our rental car through the scrum of Prague's weekday morning traffic and onto the highway that leads west, I tried to quell fears that the Karlovy Vary I first visited a decade ago and had returned to half a dozen times had been scrubbed clean of its past.
Two and a half hours later, as we started the twisting descent into town, I relaxed. We passed tall, narrow houses from the turn of the last century -- some painted ocher or powdery green and others still covered with grime. The Hotel Imperial was still regal, with its dusty red roof and turrets and newly buffed neo-Classical facade standing sentinel over the town, as they had since 1912. The boxy Sanssouci spa building gleamed white and now seemed the height of cold-war retro chic instead of a drab Soviet prefab.
We entered the valley, the heart of the spa district, and I slowed for a group of senior citizens cheerfully striding across the street. My mother noticed other walkers out for a stroll, some licking ice cream cones despite the early winter chill, and a kosher restaurant, which seemed new. Karlovy Vary's Jewish community, which had been decimated in 1938 when Hitler was made an honorary citizen and the synagogue was destroyed, is reviving. There were charter flights from Israel during the high season last year, and there is a rabbi year-round. Our destination, the Grandhotel Pupp, was right where it had been for centuries, at a bend in the Tepla River that marks one end of the spa district's main promenade. A pale and frothy concoction, it seemed a suitable legacy for the original Mr. Pupp, a pastry chef who in 1701 jumped to fill an entrepreneurial niche. A careful renovation has routed any hint of its past as the Grand Hotel Moskva and turned it again into a gracious place, full of 19th-century embellishments. I preferred to reach our huge, bright third-floor room via the wide, curving staircase.
After scheduling kosmetikas -- facials with a few extra niceties -- we were ready to begin our cure. The Cure is still serious business in Karlovy Vary, where the waters are said to treat digestive disorders, diabetes, joint problems and, thankfully, high cholesterol. Drinking them is believed by many to flush the body of harmful elements and encourage the absorption of helpful minerals and vitamins; bathing in the waters, or with salts culled from the springs, is also beneficial. Ideally, patients come for at least three weeks, and during the Soviet era the spa was filled with retirees and Eastern bloc workers on state-sponsored stays. These days, wealthy Russians make up a large percentage of visitors -- Karlovy Vary has become a second home to a growing community of Russians -- along with Czechs, Germans and an increasing number of Arabs.
Doctors prescribe baths, massage and more high-tech treatments, like irrigation of the intestines or ''magnetic therapy.'' They also recommend drinking cures; drinking too much water from too many different springs can have stomach-churning results.
The solemnity with which the Cure should be taken is evident in the warnings at the entrances to the pavilion housing the Vridlo, or the Sprudel, the hot geyser in the center of town. Forbidden items, depicted in silhouette with bright red slashes through them, include ice cream cones; briefcases; men in fedoras smoking cigars (even with hats off, no smoking is allowed); dogs; baby carriages; dripping umbrellas, galoshes and gloves; and oplatky, thin wafer cookies the size of a dinner plate. Inside, and near the outdoor colonnades that shelter the other springs and enable patients to follow their drinking cures even when the weather is poor, there are lists of rules and regulations.
Good spagoers take the waters before meals and rise at 6. They follow lunch with a long hike and are in bed by 10. But my mother and I were the kind of people the authors of an early 20th-century treatise warned against when they wrote, ''Let it be said, that the Karlsbad Cures must be taken seriously, although many come who are only slightly ill, and many who seek Karlsbad come only for the sake of its pleasures.''
Our first pleasure was lunch. Even at 2 p.m. on a weekday in December there were several tables of Germans, Russians and Czechs whose exercise seemed to be hoisting extra-large mugs of beer in a cozy cafe. My mother joined in, with a small mug, and we both had Viennese coffee, topped with two inches of stiff whipped cream.
We discussed venturing toward the woods, perhaps visiting the gleaming Russian Orthodox church of SS. Peter and Paul, for our terrain therapy, or maybe going to the lookout tower behind the Grand hotel Pupp, aided by a ride up the hill on the funicular. But we were spa slackers. My mother went off to find the secret ointment she credits with keeping her skin wrinkle free, and I sauntered along the main street.
The cafes were full of midafternoon cake eaters, and strollers seemed to be doing real shopping, carrying boxes of crystal or porcelain. Glass didn't tempt me, nor did garnets or amber, shearling coats or Italian shoes, fancy soaps or potpourri or Austrian chocolates. It was a hat that stopped me, a gray tweed 1920's-style cloche, Czech-made and adorned with a pewter button in the shape of a coiled snake.
We slept late the next day, perhaps done in by the 11 varieties of dainty cookies and glasses of mulled wine we had lingered over the night before, perhaps lulled by the mountain air and the Tepla gurgling beneath our windows. I was intent on scheduling a mineral bath, and as I hurried off, the glances of older Russian and German couples who were bundled in fur and leather and ambling arm in arm as they soaked up the sun made clear that this was a place where New York-style strides bordered on the vulgar.
Treatments at the town's main spa clinics begin early and end early. While most procedures must be prescribed by a doctor, some, like the mineral baths and massages, can be bought without a prescription. If I was free right now, the clerk said, I could have the last oxygenated herbal bath of the day.
The attendant was all business, and ordered me to undress as she began to run a bath in a deep metallic tub. Steam rose, and the air smelled, not unpleasantly, of eucalyptus and faintly of metal. A contraption began pumping bubbles into the water. She set a timer for 20 minutes, motioned to what looked like a jump-rope dangling from the ceiling that I could use to pull myself up when I got out, and left.
The tub was so deep and the water bubbling so energetically that it took a few minutes for me to figure out how to stay in one place, and I began to think that 20 minutes was a long time to be buffeted. But the next thing I knew, the buzzer went off, the attendant bustled in, wrapped me in a large, thick sheet and, pointing to a vinyl-covered examining table, ordered me to take a rest.
I awoke, glowing. I looked down to be sure my feet really touched the ground when I walked. Outside, serious spagoers were sauntering beneath the open-air colonnades or chatting as they sipped from their peculiarly shaped beakers. In the Cafe Elefant, a fashionable watering hole since 1715, several women in hats as wonderful as mine were laughing as they sat around a small table laden with sweets and poufs of whipped cream. A few doors down, a couple were raising small aperitif glasses filled with a moss-colored liquid that I knew to be Becherovka, a sweet liqueur concocted from secret herbs. Its reputed therapeutic properties are such that during World War I soldiers were issued bottles in their medical kits.
I floated back to the room, slowly.
''Where have you been?'' my mother asked, not too concerned.
I smiled. ''I've been cured.''
Where Lizst and Goethe took the waters and called at the right cafes
Karlovy Vary is about 75 miles from Prague. By car (the most convenient way) the trip should take about two and a half hours. Most of the major American car rental agencies have branches in Prague. Be sure your hotel will provide parking, as driving and parking in the spa district are restricted.
From the station to the spa district, it is a 20-minute walk, a $6 taxi ride or a 40-cent bus ride.
Karlovy Vary has a small international airport.
There are hotels and guest houses in all price ranges. To get a feeling for spa life, it is especially nice to stay in one of the old sanatoriums, many built in the 19th century and almost all newly renovated. Most have in-house spa facilities. Reservations are especially recommended during the high season, from late April through mid-October, and during the Christmas season.
The Grand hotel Pupp, Mirove namesti 2, (420 17) 310 96 31 or (420 17) 310 91 11, fax (420 17) 322 66 38, www.pupp.cz, is a five-star hotel with several restaurants and bars, a casino, a rudimentary fitness center with sauna and Jacuzzi bath, and an on-site spa. Using www.redtaghotels.com, I got a fare rate for a double in early December. Rates in high season are listed at a reasonable rate for a double, exluding breakfast, but discounts may be available.
The Spa Hotel Imperial, Libusina 18, (420 17) 3106 111, fax (420 17) 3206 151, www
.imperial.kv.cz, a sanitorium built in 1912, has its own park and tennis courts. Ask for a room with a balcony that looks toward the town. There are 167 rooms and 21 suites. In the high season, rooms are $97 a person, including full board and spa treatments, based on double occupancy; singles, $111; doubles are $69 a person with breakfast and the use of the pool; singles, $94.
The hotel is scheduled for a renovation from Oct. 1, 2002, through March 31, 2003.
For information on spa packages and other aspects of the city, contact Info Centrum, Lazenska 19/1, (420 17) 322 40 97, fax (420 17) 322 46 67; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city has an informative English-language Web site at www.karlovyvary.cz.
Grand Restaurant, Grand hotel Pupp, (420 17) 310 96 46, is elegant and gracious in a setting from the 19th century with extremely pleasant service. Basic English is spoken. A three-course dinner, including roast duck breast with apples and mushroom risotto, a bottle of Czech wine, coffee and dessert, was easily affordable for two.