From Thai Herbal Heat to hot-stone therapy, ELLE Canada highlights some of Canada's best offerings.
Paraffin-wax baths and parafango
What they are The heat-holding properties of melted paraffin were discovered in ancient times, and people have used it to ease aches and soften skin ever since. Paraffin-wax baths involve "spot-soaking" troubled body parts in temperature-controlled hot wax; parafango invites full-body immersion in a mix of fango mud and paraffin.
What they do Both relieve pain, expel toxins and boost circulation. "Parafango cocoons you," says Dr. Barb Loiskandl, consulting physician for Solitude Aesthetics & Day Spa in Barrie, Ont. "It traps heat beside the body like a warm blanket."
Who should try them? Non-inflammatory arthritis sufferers will benefit from both treatments.
Who should avoid them? Pregnant women and those with high or low blood pressure, cardiac conditions, unstable diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
Before and after No caffeinated drinks on the day of treatment; at least two litres of water, herbal or decaffeinated tea over the 24 hours following the treatment.
At-home alternatives Professional-style paraffin-wax baths can be purchased online; parafango is available at select spas.
Thai herbal heat
What it is For centuries, Thai healing practitioners have used "prakop," a hot cotton compress that contains a blend of 20 herbs including camphor, lemon grass, turmeric, Thai ginger and kaffir lime. The compress is kneaded across aching muscles, in conjunction with Thai and aromatherapy massage.
What it does Opens pores to invigorate, tone and detoxify skin, and eases sore muscles; balances internal "sen lines," or energy channels, to induce deep relaxation. "It enhances the flow of the nervous system," explains Ottawa chiropractor G. Paul Holtom, who refers many clients for Thai treatment to the nearby Holtz Spa.
Who should try it? Athletes, osteoporosis patients, anyone looking for stress reduction.
Who should avoid it? A rare few are allergic to the herbs. Drink 250 mL of water before and 250 mL directly after. A total of four to five glasses of water or herbal tea on the day.
At-home alternatives Treatment by a licensed practitioner is recommended, but compresses can be bought from evranch.com.Infrared lamp sauna
What it is The Finns once used saunas for everything from smoking salmon to giving birth. Today's hip version -- the infrared lamp sauna -- uses radiant heat at a more comfortable 43˚C.
What it does "Saunas enhance circulation and decongest the internal organs," says Lawrence Wilson, an Arizona-based nutritional consultant who attributes much modern illness to the air-, water- and food-borne toxins that saunas help eliminate.
Who should try it? Helpful in easing heart conditions and battling infections, colds, chronic headaches, certain viruses, candida, intestinal disorders and food allergies.
Who should avoid it? Pregnant and lactating women, and children under six.
Before and after Avoid eating for two hours beforehand. Drink 250 mL of water before and 250 mL to 500 mL of water after. Frequent users should replenish fluids and minerals with six 250-mL glasses of spring water, 1/2 tsp sea salt and 3 tbsp sea kelp a day.
At-home alternatives Wilson advises building or buying your own infrared lamp sauna. (Available at drlwilson.com.)
What it is Created in 1993 by Tucson, Ariz., massage therapist Mary Nelson. LaStone Therapy alternately relaxes and reinvigorates the nervous system by placing hot basalt (volcanic) and cold marble stones along the spinal column.
What it does Induces deep relaxation and reduces chronic pain and inflammation in the back, neck and shoulders; hot-cold alternation creates internal yin-yang balance. Hot stones detoxify via sweating; cold stones tone, oxygenate sore muscles, boost metabolism and detoxify by increasing lymph flow, says Kathryn Heatlie, Vancouver's Spruce Body Lab spokeswoman.
Who should try it? Anyone who'd like the benefits of hydrotherapy without leaving the comfort of the massage table.
Who should avoid it? Pregnant women, recent surgery patients or those suffering nerve damage or neuropathy, extreme stages of diabetes, skin conditions aggravated by moisture or heat, heart disease or conditions associated with extreme fatigue.
Before and after Avoid large meals, alcohol or the consumption of stimulants or diuretics beforehand; drink 250 mL of water before and three to five glasses of water or herbal tea over the rest of the day.
At-home alternatives Heatlie advises using a certified LaStone therapist.
Cupping and moxibustion
What they are Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow's affinity for cupping has made the ancient Chinese medical art as nouveau chic as motherhood. In cupping, vacuum cups are applied along body "meridians," or energy channels, creating a suction effect. With moxibustion, a moxa stick or cone made with dried herbal mugwort is burned at or near acupuncture points.
What they do Warm the meridians and improve circulation.
Who should try them? Both boost energy and improve circulation, digestion and menstrual problems. Moxibustion eases arthritis, improves fertility and "is a wholesome way to prevent disease," observe Edmonton acupuncturists Sheryl Bruce and Dawn Anthieren.
Who should avoid them? Pregnant women should avoid treatment on their lower back and abdomen; ill-advised for certain forms of diabetes or neurological disorders.
Before and after Stay warm and relaxed afterwards.
At-home alternatives Both should be performed by licensed professionals.