Business Times - 21 Mar 2009
Modern twist to traditional heat treatments
MODIFIED versions of the Japanese 'onsen' experience have come to Singapore's shores - in the form of a steam bath and a 'bubbly' one. And it's not for relaxation alone, as both are supposed to have therapeutic elements for overall wellness benefits, say its operators.
Therapeutic benefits include far infrared (FIR) for deeper penetrating warmth to improve blood circulation, and also volcanic stone to provide negative ions, which are believed to produce positive biochemical reactions to energise, relieve stress and alleviate depression.
Tan Meng Kwang, who owns Unique Hydrotherapy, says his ultrasonic bubble bath replicates and even improves upon the Japanese Onsen (natural hot springs) which are traditionally found on volcanic mountains. 'Onsens are therapeutic because they're rich in mineral content and the ultrasound effect comes from the collision of bubbles that would occur naturally in a hot spring,' he explains.
Here, the ultrasonic bubbles are generated by a machine that looks like a bath mat, which produces 46 litres of air per second, forced out through 300 tiny holes.
'The SG-2000 machine has transformed the traditional hydrotherapy industry,' says Mr Tan, a former educator, who adds that the machine is also able to generate ozone therapy and FIR therapy for cleansing and warming respectively.
The general low body temperature theory is that if the body temperature is one degree Celsius higher than 37, our immunity increases by five to six times. Conversely, if it drops one degree, immunity decreases by more than 30 per cent. Cancer cells supposedly also multiply rapidly at body temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and below. 'This kind of therapy is especially good for stroke and cancer patients,' says Mr Tan.
The 'heat treatment' theory is also echoed in Leonard Drake's Oxidation Reduction Potential (ORP) steam treatment, which claims that the immune system is most active at 42 degrees Celsius. The steam improves blood circulation and body metabolism, according to the centre's literature. The steam 'jar' studded with volcanic stones also has electrolyte benefits (anti-oxidant properties and bacteria eradication), and negative ion benefits. The key advantage of the ORP over a sauna or steam room is the far infrared heat that penetrates deeper into the body, rather than just producing surface heat, says a spokesman for Leonard Drake.
Both the ORP and Unique Hydrotherapy treatments are straight-to-the-point therapies, meaning one shouldn't expect much luxe pampering or even a spa-like ambience. At Unique Hydrotherapy, housed in an industrial estate, there are nine individual rooms with sitting baths.
At Leonard Drake, the 'chamber' is like a giant clay jar which you climb into, and the jar is covered with another towel, so that steam is confined below the neck.
If you're looking forthermal treatments, these two centres offer a moderntwist to this traditional therapy.
By Cheah Ui-Hoon
· Oxidation Reduction Potential at Leonard Drake (only at West Coast Plaza outlet, #02-14/15, Tel: 6777-9618.) is priced from $120 for 30 minutes or $720 for seven sessions. Unique Hydrotherapy's Ultrasonic baths start from $200 for 10 sessions, at 18 Boon Lay Way, #03-112, TradeHub12, Tel: 6763-0688.