Vincenz Priessnitz – a pioneer of natural healing

Vincenz Priessnitz – a pioneer of natural healing

On the trail of hydrotherapy through the Jeseníky Mountains

Vincenz Priessnitz – a pioneer of natural healing
In November, exactly 170 years will have passed since the death of a prominent native of today's Czech Republic and the founder of many modern spa treatments, Vincenz Priessnitz. He was born on 5 October 1799 in Jeseník and died there on 28 November 1851. Today, we refer to him as the founder of natural healing and the founder of the spa Lázně Jeseník. Among others, he promoted work, fresh air and clean mountain water as ways of healing. He thus laid the foundations of so-called hydrotherapy. He is also known for the treatment of the respiratory tract, with the so-called Priessnitz compress. We will now reveal to you this somewhat time-forgotten yet prominent figure of natural healing.

How it all began

Vincenz Priessnitz's early life experiences are proof of the Czech adage that that which is bad can lead to some good. He was born near the present-day town of Jeseník in Silesia into a poor family. His brother soon died, and from the age of twelve, he had to take care of his aging mother, sister, and father who was blind. He was able to recover from the serious injuries caused by working on the family farm. At the age of fourteen, he had an accident while working on wood trapping his hand, two years later he was knocked down by a spooked horse and finally, on one occasion a loaded wagon ran over his chest. While the local healers saw no hope for his recovery and said he would die or be crippled for the rest of his life, young Vincenz began to straighten his ribs against the back of his chair and apply the wraps and cold compresses using water from the mountains. He recovered. He found that willpower and natural processes were often enough for one to heal.

The beginning of mountain spas in Jeseník

Vincenz was exceptional in that he was able to observe nature and use its harmony to heal the human body. Thanks to his experience with self-treatment, he began to claim that all you had to do was stay out in fresh air, apply cold spring mountain water, and breathe deeply. That the human body needs nothing more to heal. And that is exactly what has become the basis of his successful treatment, the legacy of which has continued at the spa. People from the surrounding area began to entrust their injured animals into his care and, eventually, themselves as well - and the methods of the oddball, who changed the way we look at human health, surprisingly also had an effect on those who did not believe him at first. Rumours of young Priessnitz's abilities and miraculous healing abilities spread quickly. When he was twenty-three, he had his hometown rebuilt into a brick two-story building, placed bathtubs on the ground floor, and established the world's first hydrotherapy institute. But he did not stop there. Jeseník soon became a famous spa resort, where the cream of the then Europe flocked to get treated. Many did not believe him because he was not a learned doctor, yet still, his methods were able to successfully cure thousands of patients. Prinessnitz's natural way of treatment, however, included not only fresh air, cold wraps or walking in icy water, but also a moderate lifestyle, enough sleep and occupational therapy. Spa guests were instructed to clear snow or rake leaves, cut and chop wood - and whoever broke the strict regime had to leave the spa.

The healing through nature of today

Today, occupational therapy at the spa was replaced by recommended mountain walks, but Priessnitz's spa in Jeseník, with its several dozen springs is still frequented by patients looking to heal. The local microclimate is unique and according to measurements carried out, the Jeseník Spa has the cleanest air in the entire Czech Republic. On the slopes of Studniční vrch, just above the spa, streams are bubbling, small waterfalls are murmuring and ice water is flowing into pools, canals and reservoirs – there, you will find an original balneopark. The microclimate is suitable for the treatment of the upper and lower respiratory tract, circulatory problems, the nervous system, and problems with autonomic nerves. The spa is set in the beautiful nature of the Jeseníky Mountains with dozens of forest trails and paths, just the stay in this area itself provides positive effects on both the body and soul. Come and try it!