A Turkish bath is not just a steam bath which boasts multiple positive effects;
it can also be a social occasion, as it is in Eastern traditions. Normally associated
with massages, a Turkish bath is a moment of relaxation and true well-being, and
this explains why there is renewed interest in this treatment, even in modern
health farms and spas.
A bit of history
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Arabs resumed the tradition of Roman
baths and heated baths by using hammam (Arabic for ‘heat up’), which are smaller
baths that involve a simpler bathing procedure. With Roman baths, bathers entered
the tepidarium after physical activity, then the caldarium, the laconicum, the
hottest room which was heated with very hot, dry air, and, after cleaning the
body and having massages, the bathers swam in the frigidarium and then went to
the library or watched a show. In the Arabic tradition, the circuit is shorter:
the hammam is essentially made up of three rooms in which you wash yourself: one
room which is very hot (harara), one which is tepid and the last one which is
cold. Usually bathers start from the hottest room and at the end of the circuit
bathers may have a massage.
This treatment is carried out in a room where humidity is 100% and this creates
a fog and stratified temperatures ranging from 20-25°C on floor level to 40-50°C
at head level. Perspiration is less intense than in a very hot and dry place,
such as a sauna, but given that the bathers stay there for longer, the final result
is often that the quantity of sweat perspired is more.
Domenico Morelli, ‘Turkish Bath’
A Turkish bath has various benefits:
- it encourages deep cleansing of purification of the skin;
- it is useful for the airways;
- it has a toning and relaxing effect and lowers stress.
When you feel your temples pulsating, it is time to leave the steam
bath and take a quick, cold shower, followed by another steam bath if you feel
like it. The alternating temperatures are very good for obtaining beneficial bodily
People suffering from cardiovascular disorders should avoid Turkish baths.