Thalassotherapy: Your ultimate guide to ocean-inspired wellness

Thalassotherapy harnesses the soothing properties of the ocean.

In Greek, Thalassa means ocean. Thalassotherapy dates back to the 20th century, but people have bathed in the sea for its long-term health benefits [1].

Nowadays, people can receive thalassotherapy at coastal spas and wellness clinics. Bathing, exercising and applying marine products, such as sea mud, can all be included in the therapy.

Despite a lack of research, some studies suggest that thalassotherapy may help with certain conditions, including fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal disorders [2]. It cannot, however, replace medical treatment.

Precisely what is thalassotherapy?

A thalassotherapy session uses seawater as a therapeutic agent. This is a typical alternative therapy in Europe, particularly Germany and France.

Several thalassotherapy practices can be used, including [2]:

  • Swimming in seawater or bathing in it
  • Using marine products, such as seaweed, mud, or sand, on the body
  • Seaside vacations
  • Taking supplements containing sea-derived substances

Similar to balneotherapy, thalassotherapy involves bathing in mineral water from a spring. Thalassotherapy exclusively uses seawater as its medium.

Seawater is high in some minerals, such as [3]: 

  • sodium
  • chloride
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • iodine

How does it work?

When a person’s skin comes into contact with seawater, sodium and chloride can be absorbed. As a result, it can alter the pressure inside skin cells, impairing cell death.

In addition, air near the sea tends to be cleaner and lower in allergens than air in cities. As a result, people with asthma or hay fever may be able to breathe more easily by the ocean. According to a study conducted in 2021, spending time near blue spaces such as lakes, rivers and oceans improved well-being [4].

Health benefits of thalassotherapy

While research on thalassotherapy is limited, a few studies suggest it may be beneficial to health:


A study conducted in 2020 examined the impact of aquatic therapy in a seawater pool on 62 stroke survivors [3]. Exercises in the water are part of aquatic therapy and in this experiment, consisted of 45-minute sessions on five days per week for two weeks.

In a Mediterranean climate, aquatic therapy and thalassotherapy combined may help:

  • Inflammation
  • Balance
  • Movement
  • Qualitative aspects of a person’s life


In 2005, 58 people with fibromyalgia were treated with thalassotherapy, exercise, and patient education [5]. The program lasted 2.5 weeks. 

After three months, six months and 12 months, participants were evaluated by the authors. During the three to six months of the program, temporary benefits were produced, but they did not last. The effects included improvements in:

  • Pain
  • Tiredness
  • General health
  • Physical functioning

Mental health

Participants’ mental health was also examined in the 2005 study [5]. There was an apparent improvement in mental health, but it was of shorter duration and less pronounced than the improvement in physical health.

mental health

Skin conditions

In climatotherapy, a person temporarily or permanently relocates to a particular climate to improve health or treat a disease. It is also part of thalassotherapy when one moves to the coast.

A 2013 study examined the effects of Dead Sea climatotherapy on psoriasis [6]. 119 people with the condition completed quality-of-life questionnaires at various points throughout the study. In individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, being near the Dead Sea improves the quality of life.

Musculoskeletal conditions

A 2011 study evaluated the effects of sun exposure and bathing in the Dead Sea on people with musculoskeletal conditions [7]. Among the 60 participants were people with lower back pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Vitamin D levels increased as a result of the program, which was linked to a reduction in pain and severity of the conditions, according to the data analysis. This may, however, be mainly due to sun exposure. To determine whether thalassotherapy helps these conditions, more specific research is needed.

Thalassotherapy treatments

There are a variety of thalassotherapy treatments available at spas and wellness centers. The treatment may involve:

  • Bathing: Seawater baths are essential to thalassotherapy. In some treatments, seaweed or mud water may also be used for bathing.
  • Showering: Thalassotherapy spas offer seawater or fresh water with sea minerals for showering. To soothe muscles, high-pressure jets of water may be used during hydromassage.
  • Skin treatments: Marine products may be used in thalassotherapy spas. The thalasso wrap, for instance, involves wrapping someone in a hot blanket after applying seaweed or marine mud to their bodies. After that, the mixture is washed away. In addition to sea salt scrubs and mud masks, therapists may also use other products.
  • Exercise: Swimming is a standard part of thalassotherapy programs. It may also involve aquatic activities, such as water aerobics.
  • Inhalation: Residents of thalassotherapy spas may inhale seawater steam or breathe in sea air.

Several experts categorize seaweed supplements as thalassotherapy. Spirulina, chlorella and kelp supplements are examples.

Are there any risks to thalassotherapy?

A reputable spa usually offers safe thalassotherapy treatments. Practitioners there will be trained to identify treatments that are safe for patients. Nevertheless, there are still some risks involved.

For example, bathing in the open sea or saltwater pools can pose a drowning risk. There should always be a lifeguard on duty to monitor people’s safety when swimming.

Hot seawater can affect the body in other ways as well. Low blood pressure, fainting, or fatigue may occur after a long, hot bath. When people do not protect their skin from the sun, they can also suffer sunburn [8].

There are also some risks associated with supplements derived from marine sources. Trusted Source products are not tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they are sold [9]. 

As natural treatments are not necessarily safe, it is best to consult a doctor before trying any supplement or alternative therapy. A doctor can tell someone if thalassotherapy is right for them.

In conclusion

As a form of health treatment, thalassotherapy uses seawater and marine substances. Its benefits are attributed to the sea’s abundant minerals, such as sodium, chloride, and iodine. It is possible that people can absorb these substances through their skin, but there is limited research on whether this helps with health conditions.

A thalassotherapy treatment may include bathing, swimming, hydromassage or aquatic exercise. Those who live near the sea may also benefit from cleaner air than those in cities [10]. People should always speak with a doctor before trying thalassotherapy or taking supplements derived from the sea.


The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.