Lady receiving healing therapeutic massage

Healing Therapies Overview

Discover All Different Methods

Which different types of healing therapy are there?

On this page you will find all the information on different types of health therapies and therapy programmes, including both classical and alternative therapies.

We will briefly introduce you to all of our health therapy forms, from the classic therapies to holistic and alternative therapies, so that you have an overview of all the options and can start planning your health retreat getaway. By clicking on the individual therapy types, you can find out more details about how the therapy programme works, its benefits, the ideal length of stay and where you can experience it. Read on to learn more!

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Key Therapy Definitions - Getting Started

There are so many Greek and Latin or medical terms in the topic of therapies, so it’s worth explaining a few of the key ones first so you don’t get confused. If you don't need this because you’re already a professional, jump straight to our overview of all different types of therapies.

Let's start with the term "hydrotherapy." This therapy belongs to one of the largest therapy families. The word "hydro-" means water and "-therapy" means "method or treatment to heal disease". Thus, hydrotherapy means "healing by treatment with water". Water is usually used in the form of baths, showers, washes, steam rooms or for drinking.

Now the second word, which regularly causes confusion: "balneotherapy". Let's take a closer look at it: "balneo-" is only used as a prefix, i.e. at the beginning of a word, and then means "bath". We already know what "therapy" means. Thus, balneotherapy means "healing by treatment with baths". The term hydrotherapy can be used to summarise all therapies with which water is used. The term balneotherapy can be used within the hydrotherapy family to describe all therapy plans in which baths are the most important component.

Fun fact: similar connections between healing water and place name can also be found in cities like "Bath" in England, "Baden Baden" in Germany or "Teplice" in the Czech Republic.

That’s the end of our key therapy definitions - now you are ready to dive in deeper into the diverse world of healing therapies.

Types of Healing Therapies

An Overview

Below you will find an overview of all the different types of healing therapies, so you can find the right therapy quickly. By clicking on the name of each therapy you will be directed to a detailed page where you will find further information.


Therapies with Heat and Cold

Thermotherapy is perhaps one of the most famous forms of healing treatments. It focuses on all treatments with heat, both hot and cold. It is most often used for rehabilitation and is especially beneficial to people with arthritis, stiff joints or sore muscles as well as injuries to deep tissue.

Wet heat therapy involves all applications of hot water, for example with warm compresses, steam rooms and in baths. Thermal bathing is a therapy that overlaps with both hydrotherapy and balneotherapy, but here the main focus is the temperature of the water and the minerals in the water. Heat therapy is also a large part of thermal spa therapy (warm spring water), our complex healing packages (various applications with warm healing water, warm compresses, etc.) as well as mud therapy (warm mud, warm mud pack).

Dry heat therapy involves things like saunas, hot stone massages, heat packs on specific joints and infrared radiation.

Therapy with cold, often also called cryotherapy, uses cold temperatures and cold compresses for healing and vitalizing applications. The best known form of cold therapy is the cold chamber, where the patient is exposed to temperatures as low as -110°C for a short time. This may sound bitterly cold, but it is surprisingly pleasant.

Therapies which use alternating hot and cold temperatures are also extremely beneficial to the health. One such therapy is Kneipp therapy, which uses alternating hot and cold jets and baths to stimulate the circulation. You will have a similar effect if you take an ice cold shower after a sauna session.

Further information as well as the best offers for thermotherapy can be found on our dedicated page to the topic.

Thermal Spa Therapy

Therapies with Thermal Water

Thermal spa therapy is also great for general relaxation and wellness as well as arthritis, stiff joints or sore muscles. It involves bathing in pools or individual bathtubs filled with thermal spring water, often directly from the source.

If you are staying at a thermal spa, spa doctors typically advise guests to bathe daily for around 30 minutes. The thermal water and its minerals, which are absorbed through the skin, can increase your blood circulation and detoxification processes. This is also the reason why you can get extremely tired during a thermal bath.

In today's thermotherapy programmes, other therapies and techniques also accompany the bathing in thermal water. These include massages, mud packs, electrotherapy and other (hydro)treatments such as inhalation therapy. Since many of the programmes include a large number of different treatments alongside thermotherapy, they are often simply called "complex healing" programmes instead (read more about complex healing programmes below).

Further information as well as the best offers for thermal spas can be found on our dedicated page to the topic.

Mineral Water Drinking Therapy

Therapy with Internal Use of Mineral Water

Mineral water drinking therapy is a subcategory of thermotherapy, as it often involves drinking thermal mineral water. Spring water is used internally and is drunk in small sips. Whilst not every mineral spring is suitable for internal consumption, some waters are well tolerated and have a positive effect on the body. Due to the greatly varying quantities of minerals in each spring, we recommend you only drink the spring water if it is prescribed by the spa doctor.

Very famous among drinking therapy programmes is the Františkovy therapy in Františkovy Lázně: here you can find 10 drinkable springs each with different effects. The mineral water drinking therapy as part of a thermotherapy programme.

Further information and the best offers can be found on our special page on mineral water drinking therapy.

Mineral Peat and Mud Therapy

Therapy with Mineral Mud or Peat Baths, Masks and Wraps

Peat and moor mud therapy form another large category amongst the healing therapies. More specifically, peat is a type of mud formed over centuries of decomposition, usually where former forests and plants were sealed airtight under water and slowly decomposed in a natural way. The resulting bog or moor is full of nutrients and minerals. By heating and diluting it with water, the warm, soothing mud baths are created, which develop a healing effect through a kind of "induced fever" with a temperature of about 40° to 45°C.

Therapeutic mud is a bit different from the primeval peat mud. It is usually created by enriching mud and soil with minerals through thermal or sea water. This is sometimes referred to as "brine mud" or "saline mud". Therapeutic mud from the sea is used as part of thalassotherapy. Also with sulphur treatments there is often a so-called "sulphur healing mud". The best known form of healing mud is the Italian type of mud therapy: "fango" (Italian for mud) - the entire family of fangotherapy is named after this type of mud.

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our page dedicated to mud therapy.


Therapy with (medicinal) mud, called "fango" in Italian

Fango therapy can also be classified as thermal treatment, as the mud is heated with thermal water and gains many of its healing minerals this way. This warm healing mud, which is incredibly pleasant on the skin, is so appreciated that it has developed its own branch of treatment that is called Fango. Instead of mud baths, Fango is usually applied as a "fango mask". This is usually applied to the back, but can also be used locally in other places such as the face or joints. After the Fango is applied, a bath in thermal water follows.

Further information and the best offers can be found on our special page on Fangotherapy.​​​​​​​


Therapy by the Sea

The word "Thalassa" means sea. In thalassotherapy all natural remedies of the sea are used. First and foremost, of course, sea water, but also sea mud, sand, algae and, of course, the good sea air. All these ingredients must be used fresh, which is why thalsso spa hotels can always be found on the coast.

France's Atlantic coast is particularly famous for thalassotherapy. Here there are many ultra-modern spa centres where the forms of thalassotherapy have been constantly researched and modernised. There are also many thalassotherapy centres around the Mediterranean Sea and on the Mediterranean islands. This type of spa is perfect for those of us who need a bit of sea during our holidays.

Further information and the best offers can be found on our Thalassotherapy page.

Kneipp Therapy

Therapy with Water as Developed by Sebastian Kneipp

Another hydrotherapy treatment is Kneipp therapy, named after its founder Sebastian Kneipp. The most important part of Kneipp therapy is water treatments with alternating baths (warm and cold). Don't worry now if the sound of a cold water bath is off-putting - the cold water always comes after the warm water and only for a very short time. You won't believe how refreshing 10 seconds in cold water can be if you have been soaked for 5 minutes in very warm water. Kneipp therapy consists of 5 pillars: the water applications (baths, watering, etc.), medicinal herbs for the bath, exercise (sport), nutrition (natural healthy nutrition with lots of vegetables) and balance (physical and mental balance).

Further information and the best offers can be found on our special page on Kneipp therapy.

Complex Healing

Treatment through Medical and Therapeutic Applications

In the early days of spa and health holidays, thermotherapy was limited, for example, to bathing in thermal water and, if necessary, to internal use of the water as part of mineral water drinking therapy. Since then, spa medicine has made some quantum leaps.

Nowadays, there are many more healthy treatments and the health programmes can be individually adapted to each spa guest.Treatments such as hydro-massages, lymph drainage, electrotherapy, light therapy, cryotherapy, inhalations, etc. are nowadays mostly independent of the natural remedies on site and can be offered in all spa hotels that have the appropriate medical equipment. For this reason, many health hotels no longer speak of pure thermotherapy programmes, but use the extended term of "complex healing" programme. The health holidays offered are multilayered, highly personalisable and alongside medical health often also include the mental well-being, which is promoted by beautiful surroundings, good food and pleasant relaxation.

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our special page on complex healing therapy programmes.

Holistic Healing Therapies

Therapy of the Whole Body on a Physical, Mental and Spiritual Level

Holistic healing programmes focus not only on physical improvement of health but also on improvement of mental health and overall wellness. The founding principle of holistic medicine is to alleviate health issues by considering both lifestyle history and environmental factors in order to recognize the causes of the issues and not just treat the symptoms. The classical Ayurveda therapy, in which SpaDreams specialises, is a good example of holistic healing, based on a healthy diet, naturopathic medicine, detox and yoga. Other healthy holidays with a strong focus on mental and spiritual health are offers in the area of "Emotional Healing".

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our special page on Ayurveda Treatments.

Radon Therapy

Therapy with the Natural Gas Radon and Mild Radioactivity

In several health resorts in Europe there are medicinal springs with radon-containing medicinal water. This water is used in thermotherapy treatments as part of a personalised radon therapy programme.

There are also radon healing galleries where radon is absorbed through the air. The most famous healing gallery is the Gasteiner Heilstollen in Austria. The weakly radioactive noble gas radon is said to have an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect in low doses. For this reason, radon therapy is particularly recommended in the case of inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Research has suggested that low doses of radon can increase the production of radical scavengers and help reduce free radicals.

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our special page on radon therapy.

Sulphur Therapy

Therapies with Healing Water with Increased Sulphur Content or Sulphur Healing Mud

When we at SpaDreams talk about sulphur therapy, we mean therapy in which specific applications with sulphurous thermal water or sulphur healing mud are prescribed. It is not a question of taking large quantities of yellow sulphur pastilles (as described in various internet forums). Sulphur therapy is basically a specialised thermal or healing programme. Similar to radon, sulphur also has an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. In addition, sulphur also contributes to the improvement of the skin. Sulphur baths are also used in the treatment of skin diseases.

Further information and the best offers can be found on our special page on sulphur therapy.


Therapy in a Special Stimulating or Mild Climate

The term climatotherapy is used for various types of therapies based on the natural climate of a particular area. The most important distinction between the types of climatotherapy is the stimulating climate and the mild climate. The stimulating climate strongly stimulates the organism and activates it. A mild climate is a gentle, not strongly changing climate in which the organism is supposed to rest.

The best known form of climatotherapy is healing therapy at the Dead Sea. The stimulating climate there, consisting of desert air, ample sunshine and sea salt, is excellently suited for the treatment of various diseases and is unique in the world.

In addition to the Dead Sea, we also find a stimulating climate in all coastal regions of Europe, as well as in the high mountains. There is a mild climate in the low mountain ranges. The indications for stimulating and mild climate are quite different, further information can be found on our climatotherapy page.

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our special page on climatotherapy.

Back Therapy

Therapy for Back Problems and Pain

When a deep healing programme is additionally designed to treat back problems or back pain, it is called a back healing programme. The applications and preliminary examinations within the back therapy are specially designed for the back and spine. If special back treatments are offered in a spa hotel/health hotel, then the medical staff of the spa hotel is specialised in the treatment and special equipment is usually also available. Within the back therapy there are two levels: the first are short back healing programmes, which usually last only a few days. Here the focus is on strengthening or relieving back muscles. Level 2 would be the so-called back weeks. These programmes can usually be booked for 1 to 4 weeks, depending on how much therapy the back needs.

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our special page on back therapies.

Aerosol Therapy

Therapy with Thermal Water Inhalations

Aerosol therapy is an application with thermal water. This is absorbed as water vapour via the respiratory tract. These applications usually take place in small cabins and with special inhalers. Particularly popular are the corresponding treatments in the Italian fango spa hotels, where inhalation therapy is often available to be booked as an accompaniment to almost all programmes. Therapy programmes entirely based on aerosol therapy are rare. This form of therapy is usually prescribed as part of a fango therapy programme or booked separately if a treatment of the respiratory tract appears to be appropriate.

Further information and the best offers can be found on our special page on aerosol therapies.

Oxygen Therapy

Therapy with High Dose Oxygen

Oxygen therapy is, just like the aerosol, an inhalation therapy. Air with an increased oxygen content is inhaled while the patient is lying down or sitting relaxed. The higher oxygen concentration strengthens the immune system and promotes general health. Oxygen inhalations can be part of deep healing programmes.

Further information and the best offers can be found on our special page on oxygen therapies.


The Healing Power of Water

Hydrotherapy focuses on treatments with water. Water can be used in so many varied ways, which makes it highly useful in health therapies and a key component of many of our health spa programmes. The main ways hydrotherapy exploits the powers of water include:

  • Pressure of the water e.g. in hydrotherapy baths, hydro-jets or underwater massages
  • Minerals and other elements dissolved in the water, e.g. natural spring water or water with added herbal oils/minerals
  • Water temperature, from comfortably warm and relaxing for the muscles to refreshingly cold and carbonated

Water from natural springs can also be prescribed in specific amounts for you to drink – this allows the waters minerals to go more directly into the bloodstream and internal system. You can learn more about mineral water drinking therapy above.

Hydrotherapy is also good for rehabilitation after injury. For example, physiotherapy exercises carried out in a pool help to rebuild muscles without the strain on the joints.

For further information and to learn about the special features of hydrotherapy spas, view our page dedicated to the topic: hydrotherapy.


Healing Through Bathing

Balneotherapy focuses on baths and all different varieties of bathing. Whether this is in a natural mineral water pool, jacuzzi or personal bath with added herbal oils or minerals, there are a wide range of balneotherapies, many of which overlap with hydrotherapy.

What makes balneotherapy different is that is focuses mainly on the use of natural thermal mineral water or mineral mud and really seeks to exploit all the powers of various baths before any other therapy. The water can be either hot and cold, or even alternating!

Balneotherapies can also be found in other therapy programmes, such as thermotherapy, thalassotherapy and Kneipp therapy.

Within thalassotherapy, the main water therapies use sea- or saltwater in all types of baths, from air jet baths and underwater massages to hydro-jet massage, thalasso-parcours (various types of pools connected in a circuit) and spa baths.

Within Kneipp therapy programmes, herbal additives and essential oils (aromatherapy) are added to the water used in baths or other water treatments to achieve beneficial effects.

One of the key ingredients for the success of a balneotherapy programme is having the right mineral water to treat the specific health issue, so check in advance which medicinal springs are beneficial for which health issue. As an easy example, springs high in iron can be really helpful for those with anaemia.

For further information and to see our wide range of balneotherapy offers, view our page dedicated to the topic: balneotherapy.

Spa Taster Programmes

Small Spa Formats as a Taster Spa Programme

Now you have an overview of the beautiful variety of health therapies. You probably got just a little bit curious about a few of them. However, you might be wondering whether a 14-day therapy in a one place is the right thing for you. Maybe you don't have anything "that hurts" right now and don't need an intensive therapy programme - but would still like to do something for your health during your holiday and try out some of the exciting remedies.

The perfect solution for you is a "taster therapy programme". Taster programmes are short programmes ideally suited as a way of testing out the therapy and seeing if it's right for you. The programmes usually last only a few days, a maximum of one week, and are therefore the perfect healthy short holiday, which can even be taken several times a year. Thus the most beautiful spa towns in Europe are the perfect place for you to enjoy your therapy. Take advantage of our taster therapy offers to test all the therapies that interest you to your heart's content.

Further information as well as the best offers can be found on our special page on taster therapies.

5 Elements of Complex Healing

5 Elements of Complex Healing

Therapy Trinity

Therapy Trinity

Most Popular Healing Therapy Offers

Got curious? Then use our search bar below to find the perfect healthy package for you. Here you will find many interesting offers under the travel themes "Health" and "Spa Therapies".

To book, simply fill out the booking form on the hotel of your choice or if you would like further personalised recommendations, contact our travel experts by email or phone. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tip: for special discounts and early bird rates, book off season, well in advance or for longer periods from 3-4 weeks!


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