Background: Balneotherapy is among the most widely used modalities of physical therapy in countries rich in mineral waters. This trial was intended to ascertain whether balneotherapy (i.e., therapeutic bath in mineral water) has any influence on the antioxidant system and whether there are any differences compared to bathing in tap water. Methods: The ten subjects in Group I bathed in alkaline thermal water, Group II used alkaline, chlorine-containing mineral water, whereas Group III bathed in tap water. Catalase, superoxide dismutase, malondialdehyde protein and glutathione peroxidase levels were measured at baseline and after concluding the course of balneotherapy. Results: Balneotherapy with either of the two mineral waters reduced the activity of all four enzymes studied. Using tap water, however, had no influence on either catalase or superoxide dismutase activity after one session or glutathione peroxidase levels after a course of ten balneotherapy treatments. Conclusions: Thermal water may have a beneficial effect on the formation of free radicals. The therapeutic efficacy of mineral vs. tap water is different, although bathing in hot water itself reduces enzyme activity.
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