THE HEALING WATERS OF JAMAICA - JAMAICA TOURIST ISSUE 11
In the 19th and 20th centuries, people believed in the healing powers of mineral springs and the hot spring towns of the US and Europe posed popular vacation destinations for the upper class. Used to treat rheumatic and muscular disorders, skin ailments and respiratory problems, the water from the therapeutic mineral springs is believed to have fallen as rain thousands of years ago, before sinking to a depth of 2 km below the Earth's surface. Here, it is heated by high temperature rocks before rising back up through breaks in the limestone. For people in search of healing or rejuvenation, Jamaica counts several therapeutic mineral springs. Bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters and choose from a range of spa treatments designed to ease the body and soothe the mind.

Although the health benefits of soaking in hot mineral waters remain disputed, many claim that soaking in hot springs have cured their ailments. Often recommended in the recovery from surgery, the dissolved mineral salts and sulfur compounds in mineral baths are widely used to treat skin inflammations and fungal infections, as well as reducing the stiffness and inflammation of arthritis and rheumatism patients. Believers also think that bathing in mineral springs restores the balance to overworked adrenal glands and heals the endocrine system.

Jamaica is fortunate enough to have three major mineral springs, to which many visitors and locals find their way in search of cures for ailments or simply some much needed rest and relaxation.

MILK RIVER BATH, CLARENDON
Two miles south of Milk River village, you find the hot springs of Milk River Bath. Tucked at the foot of the Carpenter Mountains on the Vere Plains in the southwestern corner of Clarendon parish, Milk River Bath is definitely worth the trip. In the 18th century, the property was owned by Jonathan Ludford. According to local legend, one of his slaves escaped from the dungeon after receiving a severe beating and ran off into the hills, where he discovered a spring with salty tasting water. After bathing his injured body in the spring for a few days, he returned to the slave quarters with his wounds completely healed. Ludford, who thought that a miracle had taken place, promised the slave he would never punish him again if he showed him the secret behind his healed wounds. After discovering the mineral spring, Ludford willed the two thousand odd acre property to the Government of Jamaica, for the benefit of the people of the land.

The first two mineral baths opened in 1794. Since then, additional baths have been added and today 6 public mineral baths, 3 private baths and 14 guest rooms are available for guests at Milk River Bath. Its potent, tepid waters are widely believed to relieve stress, fatigue, back pain and muscle strain, headache, migraine, arthritis, circulatory problems, neck pain and whiplash. Interestingly, the waters of Milk River Bath possess nine times the radioactivity of the famous mineral springs of Bath, England, fifty times the mineral springs of Vichy, France and fifty-four times the thermal baths of Baden, Switzerland.

Said Annie and John from Minnesota who were thrilled about their visit; “We are here to test the healing waters of Jamaica and really love the Milk River Bath. We feel totally revived and are really glad we made the journey.”
Open daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, the fee for the 15 minutes allowed soaking time is JA$400 for adults and JA$200 for children. 610-7746/7 and 809-6523 for more info.

BATH FOUNTAIN HOTEL, ST. THOMAS
Bath Fountain Hotel & Spa in St. Thomas is another well-known mineral spring. If you follow the main roads to St. Thomas from Kingston or Port Antonio, signs to Bath start in Leith Hall. Once in Bath, you can try out the self-declared physiotherapists outside the hotel gates or depend on the trained hands of the Bath Fountain Hotel & Spa therapists, which would be our recommendation.

Flowing from two rocks, the natural mineral spring is just across a bridge. Rich in sulphur and lime, this therapeutic mineral spring is believed to be particularly good for the treatment of rheumatic ailments and skin diseases. The ceramic tiled public baths allow 20-minute soaks in their warm waters, which are funneled directly from the rock into the spa.

Old colonial world charm awaits you at this quiet, secluded hideaway, where hot and cold spring water flow into some of the 16 hotel rooms, allowing guests to enjoy the therapeutic water at their leisure.   For further information, call the Bath Fountain Hotel & Spa at 703-4974.

ROCKFORT MINERAL BATH
The third major thermal bath in Jamaica, Rockfort Mineral is currently undergoing refurbishment. Located near Harbour View in East Kingston, it is said to have been discovered after the 1907 earthquake, which destroyed the famous port town of Port Royal. Operated by the Caribbean Cement Company, the bath houses are large communal baths with a range of private rooms as well as spa services. Fed by natural mineral streams originating in the Rockfort Hills, the therapeutic waters are slightly saline and extremely radioactive.

For further information, call Rockfort Mineral at 928-7530.

Several other mineral springs which are not connected to bath facilities are available on the island, including Roaring River in Westmoreland and the mineral spring at Mayfield Falls in Hanover. Feel free to explore! 
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