Traditionally Bad Ems is known as “The spa resort for catarrh and asthma” and follow-up diseases. It is most notably famous by reason of its “ alkaline-muriatic acidic springs”, as the medical scientist Hufeland denominated these founts. The thermae are unique in Germany. The spa water contains hydrocarbonate and ions of chlorine and sodium as well as 1 – 2 gramme of carbon dioxide, thus all in all 4 gramme of solute substances per litre. The acidic thermae hold temperatures from 27 to 57° C. Furthermore there are several cold acidic founts with temperatures beneath 20° C.
Geologically the region of the Bad Ems thermal springs is part of the Rhenish Lower Devonian. Primarily it consists of Rhenish greywacke with changing beds of quartzite, sandy shale and argillite. The fount exits are terraced one on top of the other, lower in the east than in the west. Several anticlines disconnect the geological orderliness of the founts to the southeast. The spring region is closely bordered by a quartzite range, extending from the Marlberg in the south and underneath the Lahn river up to the Kemmenau heights. Several shale layers in parallel dissect the quartzite range into separated formations. The thermal water is embedded between shale formations of varying size and outflows as artesian wells where the quartzite ranges diverge. In today´s Bad Ems the spring field includes the place of the Spa Hotel, the southern footings of Klopp Hill and Baederlei Hill, the close-by riverbed and, on the left river bank, the former Roman Bath to the place of the water tower. The westernmost and at the same time most altitudinous fount is located rearward the “Nassauer Hof”. There are several cold acidic founts in between.
Over the centuries some different theories concerning the origin of the thermal mineral water existed. Today we assume that volcanic incidents have been the cause of it. From ancient times it is well-known that hydrostatic pressure of the water of the river Lahn works on the fount productivity. The nearby underground mining also affected the productivity and impaired the founts more than hundred years ago. The subsequent dispute between spa resort and mining held up to 1945. By consequence of war however the mining power supply collapsed and water overflowed the mines. Since that time the founts sputter yieldingly again.
Tradition dates back for a long time
In the year 1172 for the first time and, later on in 1362, the “Thermae Emptzianae” or the “warm bayt bey Eumetze” have been mentioned in the documents. We anyway know that there was active bathing and spa in the early middle ages yet. Nota bene: Bathing. The first recommodation for drinking the “Kraenchen” water has been documented in the 16th century. The “Kesselbrunnen” has been established later on in the 17th century and, even later, several founts as rock springs with changing names. The springs had been edged basely. The Roman Fount (“Roemerquelle”) was located in the middle of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century all founts had been edged newly. After the Second World War the so called Kampe-Fount (“Kampe-Sprudel”) was opened by drilling. It is the last capacious fount and very productive.
The Hessian and Nassau bathing houses (named so after the respective dominion) competed against one another in the 17th and 18th century. This gave even more boost to the bathing. Famous spa doctors cultivated the bathing activities in this period and definitely worked for the benefit of their clients as well as they promoted the reputation of the resort. Prof Johannes Eichmann, MD, alias Dryander, was one of the first to compose scholarly pieces which are still worthwhile for the history of medical science. The documents are out-of-date, but today “Dryander” is the name of one of our rehab hospitals. In the course of time the reputation of Bad Ems Thermae spread and crossed the borders of the contemporary principalities. Consequentially emperors, kings, dukes and prominent persons of culture, politics and economy visited Bad Ems, searching for and finding wellness and healing.
Since the middle of the 19th century diseases of the respiratory organs and subsequent cardiovascular diseases take centre stage in medical sciences. Most probably this boosted the reputation of the spa resort over and above the borders, so that at the end of the 19th century Bad Ems came in second within the ranking of spa resorts in Germany, concerning the number of guests.
Carbonate alkalis of the Bad Ems Thermae aerate the mucous membranes, fluidize the mostly stringy secretion and relieve the expectoration extensively. As a precondition however there must not persist any irreparable damage in the mucosa. As the intestinal tract is also covered by a mucosa, the dissolved carbon dioxide inspires secretion and peristalsis too. While drinking the spa water this effect will be forced by walking around. The well-known effects of Bad Ems Thermae, attracting our patients up to the present, are still existing and significant. As a matter of course infectious diseases of the respiratory organs will today be medicated in a conventional medical method. This method however should be fostered by a spa-water therapy, inhalations and irrigations of throat and nose with spa-water. Furthermore it seems to be more than ever fundamental to medicate subsequent diseases with gentle methods as well as to stabilize the mucosa prophylactically in an environment which is affected by pollutants.
With elemental agents Bad Ems provides the opportunity to rejuvenate the aggrieved organism in a gentle way and – at the same time – to practice more and more important prophylaxis. This means stabilization of your state of health and increasing immunization.
For your regimen performance we empirically offer a pattern of treatment which – as a matter of course – might be diversified as the case arises. In the morning the day will start with two glasses of “Kraenchenbrunnen”-spa water. For intestinal tract diseases we recommend “Kesselbrunnen”. As mentioned afore slow walking around will enhance the effects. Also before lunch and in the late afternoon you should drink one or two glasses of spa water. Irrigations of throat and nose will be applied in the forenoon. Twice a day you should apply the important inhalation therapy which is offered in the Spa- and Therapy Centre as well as in the rehab hospitals in Bad Ems. Depending on the diagnostic findings we either offer a humid inhalation in the inhalation room or with the inhalator. The inhalator will spend more abrasive droplets in order to relieve the fluidizing of mucus. Furthermore the particular aerosol therapy with superfine dispersion will be effective even in the smallest bronchial tubes and alveoles. This is in particular relevant for bronchial asthma by reason that spa water will haul the medicaments, dilating the bronchia, inside the respiratory tract.
As far as there exist late sequelae of the asthma emphysema disease in the shape of a cardiovascular insufficiency we apply carbon dioxid bathing with spa water of the thermae and a temperature of 30 to 32° C. The bathing will provoke a long-lasting thermal contrast-stimulus – the peripheric cardiovascular status will change for the better (dilating the capillaries). The physical pressure of the spa water will relieve the myocardium. Apart from this carbon dioxid effects (to be applied just every other day) the thermal water in the Bad Ems Thermae (32°) is to a large extent free of carbon dioxid and by this a perfect amendment for hardenings of the musculoskeletal system and for rheumatic diseases.
The reputation of the Bad Ems thermal springs increased additionally since the spa resort offers the active ingredients of the spa water in the shape of “Ems Salt” and “Ems Pastilles”. Afore the resort dispatched the spa water with jugs countrywide and across the borders, for the first time in the middle of the 18th century. The “Ems Salt” has been traded since 1902.
Written by Dr Hanna Michel, MD Bad Ems, January 1997
Active Bathing in Bad Ems ist established since Late Middle Ages, since the 14th century. So Bad Ems counts to one of the oldest spa towns north of the alpes.
Verein für Geschichte, Denkmal- und Landschaftspflege e.V., Bad Ems Bad Ems, June 2013
© State Bathing Resort Bad Ems Corp.