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Treatment effects of carboxytherapy

If you are considering a medical spa treatment in the Czech Republic, it might be of interest to you to learn a bit about traditional medical spa procedures. Among them, the foremost position is taken by carboxytherapy. It means treatment by carbon dioxide in various forms.


The most common form is a carbonated mineral bath as many curative mineral springs in the Czech Republic are naturally saturated with CO2. Carbonated mineral waters are usually coming out to the Earth´s surface as cold springs. Therefore, they need to be warmed up for bathing. (Imagine being submerged up to your chin in chilly soda water of 10 º C for 20 minutes.) The common spa practice is to warm up the carbonated mineral water to temperatures between 32-35 º C, not more as the gaseous CO2 evaporates from water in higher temperatures and its curative effect is then lost. While bathing, you may notice that your skin will be covered in numerous little bubbles of CO2 and you may feel a pleasant tingling on your skin. Also, the submerged part of your body will become visibly reddish in colour after the bath. This is due to the vasodilating effect of CO2 on your skin: your skin capillaries will widen, letting in more blood and thus your pale skin will temporarily flush. This is a part of the curative effect.


The vasodilating effect of CO2 spreads throughout the body triggering a whole cascade of beneficial actions. Increased blood supply to the skin relieves the heart so it needs to do less work and it may therefore slow down its action and decrease the pumping pressure it exerts. Hypertensive patients benefit from normalised blood pressure and people with tachycardia revert to a normal frequency of their heartbeat. Kidneys are better perfused in the carbonated bath, so they filtrate more blood leading to higher production of urine and decreased formation of stones. (Do not forget to drink sufficiently after taking the bath.)


Therefore, people with heart and cardiovascular system diseases may benefit most of all from a series of CO2 baths as the body and its systems adapt to the changes of the blood circulation over a course of 3-4 weeks. Other indications for carbonated baths are rheumatoid arthritis, autonomous nerves dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia and chronic fatigue syndrome. People suffering from infertility may also derive benefits from these baths, as the reproductive organs get better perfused as well.


In general, a carbonated mineral bath is a whole-body procedure, so you are literally submerged in the water up to your chin. In case your heart or lungs are not in top condition (e.g. you suffer from chronic heart failure or severe COPD), your attending spa physician may consider reducing the water load on your chest by prescribing only a half-bath (up to your waist) or ¾ bath (under your heart). In severe cases of dyspnoea or chest pain, carbonated mineral baths are contraindicated.


If you have reduced mobility and cannot get in and out the bathtub, you may still profit from carboxytherapy in the form of a dry gas bath. The gaseous CO2 in some places issues naturally as a „gas spring“ and has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. People and animals alike were coming to these gas sources and bathing their sore limbs in the CO2 gas, usually bubbling through water. Nowadays, you will mostly slip on a plastic sac up to your armpits where it gets tightened (some parts go up to your neck to fasten the sac). You lie down on a couch and the sac is then inflated with CO2 gas. Such an application has similar effects as the carbonated water bath, but it has especially remarkable effects on skin affections like poorly healing wounds, ulcers or bed sores.


The third form of CO2 application is called gas insufflation (or commonly gas injections). This type of application has been developed for a local use and is reserved to the hands of medical doctors or qualified nurses. A small amount of gas is insufflated under your skin at or around the sore area. At spa settings it is used to relieve pain due to stiffened muscles, compressed nerves, local ischaemia (poor perfusion) or degenerated joints. Naturally, the CO2 application improves local perfusion which adds to its efficiency. Again, a series of subcutaneous gas injections are necessary to bring a longer-lasting effect. Gas injections are contraindicated in cases of skin infections, haemophilia (bleeding disorder) and needle phobia. In case you are on blood-thinning medication (e.g. Apixaban, Warfarin), you should inform your attending spa physician in advance prior to their prescription.


You should also be aware of general contraindications for any medical spa cure:

  •     pregnancy
  •     active cancer – you may go for a spa cure after min. 6 months in remission (confirmed by your oncologist)
  •     acute infection of any organ or system
  •     fever
  •     acute decompensation of your chronic illness (diabetes, hypertension, heart/kidney/lung failure etc.)
  •     stool / urine incontinence
  •     mental / physical incapacitation
  •     epilepsy
  •     acute thrombosis or phlebitis
  •     psychosis
  •     alcohol or drug abuse
Dr Dominika Benesova MD