Peat and swamp water have been used in traditional medicine for a long time. There has been a growing interest in peat treatments in spas, institutions and self-care. However, the production of high-quality Health Peat requires special know-how.
EU TESTING REQUIREMENTS
Health Peat has been classified as a skin care substance, and as such it is regulated by EU directives. The purpose of testing is to control product safety, but at the same time it creates an important ground for the marketing of Health Peat products. As stated before, examining and defining the most effective Health Peat is extremely challenging, which is why it should be left to the treating personnel and the users.
The European Union requires that all treating effects mentioned in product labels and brochures are verified and documented, so that non-specific statements cannot be used in marketing.
Health Peat can be used as a full body mask, hand and foot mask, facial mask, hair and scalp treatment and local treatment. In Central Europe, good results have also been achieved in treating gynaecological and urological troubles with Health Peat.
A full body Health Peat treatment can be given on a treatment table using a swathe, in a peat treatment tub or in the sauna.
The treatment table method consists of applying the peat on the skin starting from the neck down, then wrapping the patient in plastic and a warm blanket. Heating is provided e.g. by heat lamps.
In a peat treatment tub the peat is applied on the skin and heated with steam. To finish the treatment, peat is washed off the skin with the showers incorporated in the tub.
A low-heat/high moisture sauna gives also good treatment results. Steam bath is ideal for Health Peat treatments.
SELECTION OF A SUITABLE SWAMP
It is traditionally known that Health Peat is taken from an untouched swamp.
The layer suitable for Health Peat is created over hundreds of years. No normal decomposing takes place in the swamp.
As plants decompose, numerous vegetal compounds with important health effects are condensed in the layer suitable for raw material for Health Peat.
The raw material used by Polar True Ltd comes from swamp in natural state, a depression in the earth high up on the crest of a rock, situated in Southern Finland. Due to the location of the swamp, it contains no harmful substances. In addition, the basin has preserved well the treating combinations of vegetal substances dissolved in the swamp water. Compared to other swamps, the amount of vegetal hormones is significant in this pure sphagnum moss swamp.
The raw material of Health Peat is well decomposed, 500-1000 years old. The layer suitable for Health Peat has developed on top of an old layer of burned forest, forming a one-meter thick layer at the depth of 1-2m. The raw material is a gel-like substance already in the swamp.
Vegetation is the first criterion when choosing a Health Peat swamp. Research carried out so far indicates that the amount of flavonoids, vegetal hormones, is highest in pure sphagnum moss swamps. The swamp’s growth rate also affects its amount of bioactive substances and degree of decomposition.
The location of the swamp along with the terrain has an effect on the swamp’s properties.
If the swamp is situated on a terrain which causes a so called flow-through, the treating substances dissolved in its water will become thinner. If the swamp receives flows of substances from a large area, skin irritating or allergising substances may condense in the swamp, including the layer normally suitable for health use. In the sphere of influence of agriculture, intensive forestry or peat industry, the swamp may accumulate important quantities of substances harmful for health use. Since the harmful substances are conserved in the swamp for a very long time, it is wise to avoid producing health peat from it,
especially when taking into account that there are plenty of peat lands in Finland suitable for extraction of health peat material.
According to certain studies, considerable proportions of radioactivity have been found in some swamps. The underlying cause of this is the uranium content of the surrounding grounds. Rain water has brought uranium-containing earth to the swamp, which is particularly concentrated in the layer normally suitable for health use. Fortunately this phenomenon is rare, but it is nevertheless important to test the raw material of health peat for it.
Trenching changes the water economy of the soil even below the bottom level of the ditch. Usually trenching causes weakening of the treating compounds diluted in water, reducing the effects of Health Peat treatments.
Due to the drying of the raw peat material caused by trenching, the end product is often coarse-grained, difficult to spread on the skin and comes off easily. The objective of Health Peat production is to create a gel like substance easy to apply on the skin, to which as little water as possible needs to be added in the treatment situation.
THE RIGHT PEAT LAYER
The suitable Health Peat comes from an intermediary level, with only slightly decomposed peat on top and mineral mud underneath. Mineral mud is also used for treatment purposes.
RESEARCH AND TESTING
DEGREE OF DECOMPOSITION
Before exploiting a swamp, the layer suitable as raw material for Health Peat is evaluated using core samples and ocular estimation. The degree of decomposition of the raw material is determined, the required value being 6-10 for Health Peat. The higher the degree of decomposition, the more gel like and easier to use the final Health Peat product.
The swamp’s acidity is a highly indicative factor, it should be approximately pH 4.
In spite of earlier suppositions, peat is not a disinfectant, but contains bacteria found in nature innocuous to humans. As a consequence of flows of substances to the swamp or impurities during the production process, peat may be infected by pathogenic i.e. harmful or even dangerous bacteria. If, for example, an excavator has been digging a sewer earlier and hasn’t been properly cleaned before extracting peat, it will probably bring along dangerous bacteria to which peat is a good breeding ground.
Acidity has an important role in the slowing down of bacterial growth.
Acidity has a favourable effect on Health Peat treatments, since the skin’s highest acidity level is approximately pH 4. It is in the areas of the skin with an acidity level close to neutral, like between the toes and in the armpits, where most fungal infections and other rashes occur. Some treatments even include increasing the acidity of the peat artificially.
Microbiological tests are important, too. They are used to examine the quality and quantity of possible harmful bacteria. Whereas pathogenic bacteria are not allowed at all in Health Peat, a maximum amount of 1000 pcs / ml of innocuous bacteria is permitted.
SKIN AND ALLERGY TESTS
Skin and allergy tests are used to define possible skin irritating and allergising effects. In addition, peat should also be tested for some harmful substances, such as heavy metal levels, and, as mentioned earlier, radioactivity levels.
Earlier research has emphasized the quantity of humic acids, which is supposed to reflect other treating effects of peat. However, treating results have shown no significant differences in spite of variations in humic acid content.
One of the objectives of present research is to clarify the effect of flavonoids in skin care. Studies on nutritive values have shown that flavonoids are very important substances. Sulphur, which is found in large quantities in some peat sorts, is also an interesting research subject, since it has been discovered to remove waste products and toxic agents from the body.
Health Peat contains thousands of compounds whose health effects are difficult or impossible to examine. The fact is that some molecules have different effects when combined with other compounds than when acting separately. Therefore using natural compounds separated from their environment has often led to a less effective treatment result than was excepted. Some compounds may have strong side effects although negative effects are not observed in their natural environment.
Each swamp is individual due to its vegetation and other natural conditions. It is very difficult to find two swamps with the same biological properties.
EXTRACTION AND STORAGE OF PEAT
Health Peat is extracted from virgin peatland, difficult terrain for heavy lifting machinery to operate. Therefore extraction is done with so called floating lifting machines or in wintertime, borne by the ice cover.
All machinery used for lifting and intermediate storage must be carefully cleaned in order to prevent harmful substances or bacteria from getting in the raw peat material.
It is essential to pick the extraction date carefully, because Health Peat should not dry nor freeze during storing and processing.
The aim is to maintain the humidity level of the swamp unchanged during the whole production process, so as not to lose treating substances dissolved in the swamp water. Drying of the peat changes its cell structure in a way that it becomes granular and difficult to spread on the skin. Once a certain point of drying is achieved, the peat will not properly dissolve in water.
The freezing of raw peat material at some point of production or storage changes its properties so that it can no longer be used as Health Peat.
As to heat, already at 40°C some sensitive compounds are destroyed, and above 60°C a great amount of treating substances are destroyed.
PRODUCTION OF HEALTH PEAT
When producing Health Peat, the moistness of the peat is maintained at the same level as when it is lifted from the swamp. After removing bigger particles (stubs and roots) from the substance, the peat is mechanically ground. During this operation the temperature is kept even to avoid destroying the delicate natural compounds of the peat.
The Health Peat destined for cosmetic use is then processed with a homogenizer.
STORING OF HEALTH PEAT
Packaged Health Peat is stored at room temperature or in cool premises.
Health Peat has a slight scent of swamp, which can intensify when the peat is stored in warm premises, but that is not a sign of spoilage.
If an unopened container has mould spots or a layer of mould on the peat, the peat is unusable. In such case there have been impurities in the manufacturing process or the process has not been conducted properly.
The different mould types which might occur in peat can develop strong toxins, therefore a batch which has mould must be withdrawn from the market.
Peat bath is a traditional treatment method in Central Europe, for which about 80 kilos of peat is needed. Locally treating peat wraps are also used there, consuming a bucket of peat.
This Central European bath method is mainly based on the heating proprieties of peat. The treatment lasts 20 to 30 minutes. During this time the temperature of the peat bath decreases by approximately one degree. This method requires, however, a peat treatment plant, which prepares the raw peat material for bath use, warming it up and pumping it through a tubing system to the bath section. The used peat is run to a precipitation tank, from where a tank lorry takes it back to the swamp to wait for the next recycling turn.
Because of the large quantities of use, the quality of the peat has not always been essential.
Polar True has re-examined the basis of peat treatments in order to develop them.
With modern techniques, obtaining a steady temperature is not a problem, so the amount of peat mass is not decisive for treatment results. Instead, the questions of quality, properties and ease of use are becoming essential at present. Thus, these principles have guided the development of new treatment methods and appliances.
In both methods, old and new, the treating effect of peat comes from the layer of peat closest to the skin. A layer of 1 mm covering the whole skin surface is usually enough. This requires only 0.5 to 1.5 kg of Health Peat per one properly carried out whole-body mask treatment. Since almost no water is added to the peat in this new method of Health Peat treatment, the peat contains proportionally more treating compounds than the old one, in which up to 50% or even more water is added.
Before use, the Health Peat is warmed up in a water bath. Using the microwave oven is not recommended under any circumstances, because dielectric heating will destroy the peat’s treating substances.
Health Peat treatments are usually given on cleansed or pealed skin. The peat if spread on the skin as a layer thick enough so that the skin is not visible from underneath it.
The Peat Mask is kept moist during the whole treatment, by covering it for example with a thin plastic or by giving the treatment in a steam bath.
The plastic is then covered with a blanket, a woollen sock or other warming layer. If desired, heat can be added with an external heating appliance.
The usual duration of the treatment is 30-50 minutes, after which the skin is rinsed without soap. The treating substances penetrated in the pores will continue to act several hours after the treatment.
Health Peat treatments can also be given at body temperature or cold. In some cases, a peat wrap can be left to act overnight, for instance when treating gout.
When treating children’s rashes, the treatment can be started with a bath containing 100 grams of Health Peat, switching to mask treatments later on.
EFFECTS OF PEAT TREATMENTS
Health Peat treatments are traditionally known as thermotherapy methods used to treat rheumatism, to relax muscular tension and to increase local blood circulation. It is often stated that peat has various treating proprieties.
There are, however important differences between different kinds of peat when it comes to their treating effects and their qualities of penetrating through skin. Some peats tint the skin during treatment, but the colour comes off when rinsing with water. As to peat rich in biologically affecting substances, it has been proved to calm many skin problems and even cure rashes. Contrary to previous presumption, it seems that the skin treating effect of peat is based on its relaxing action instead of disinfecting action. Healthy skin does not normally have fungus and bacteria problems.
The effect of biologically active compounds penetrating through skin from Health Peat is also substantial. It has long been known that Health Peat treatments increase blood circulation and metabolism. The same substances also have the quality of binding and removing waste products and toxic agents.
Polar True Ltd has done research on the different compositions of raw peat materials and developed peat treatments and treatment devices for over 20 years. The raw material we use at present has been thoroughly examined in research institutes in Finland and abroad. The proportion of certain important treating substances is considerably higher in this raw material than in those previously tested. At the same time, it has been confirmed that the treating properties of the presently used Health Peat are better than those of the previously examined ant tested peats.
TREATMENT RESULTS WITH POLAR TRUE’S HEALTH PEAT
It is broadly stated that Health Peat treatment increases blood circulation and metabolism. The sensation of cold in hands and feet diminish and aching disappears. These effects are most evident in different rheumatisms, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout etc. Pain and swelling caused by sprained limbs have been shown to have diminished already after a single treatment. Good results have also been achieved in the treatment of chronic oedemas, as well as of many rashes – acne, atopic rash, psoriasis to mention a few.
Good results in many rashes – acne, atopic rash, psoriasis to mention a few. Peat treatment has proven to be particularly effective when treating scalp.
When treating thin skin and wounds, Health Peat stimulates the activity of cells and speeds up recovery. Positive and rapid results have been achieved in the treatment of intoxication or allergic reactions of the skin, such as medicine side effects, plant poisoning or insect bites.
Health Peat treatments have had positive effects on skin, making it softer, more elastic and moisturised while balancing the functioning of sebaceous glands.
Health Peat can also be used to treat menopausal troubles, menstrual pains and hormonal cellulite.
In Finland, the production and marketing of Health Peat is supervised by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA).
Every manufacturer and importer of Health Peat is bound to register at the FCCA. The same regulations apply e.g. to a spa which prepares its own Health Peat.
The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority controls that all Health Peat products destined to the EU market fulfil the minimum EU testing requirements. Failure to register and carry out testing leads to a marketing ban and, in the worst case, to the withdrawal of products from the market.
The retailer or the person giving treatments must ensure that the Health Peat he/she sells or uses meets the EU requirements. The main responsibility, however, lies with the producer.
If the retailer or the treatment giver deliberately sells or uses untested Health Peat and problems result from it, the responsibility falls on them. In that case, it may be difficult to get indemnity from an insurance company.
All business activity includes unpredictable factors which may cause financial or other problems. Therefore it is important that a company producing Health Peat has appropriate liability insurances. However, if a company’s products do not meet the EU requirements, it can be difficult for the company to obtain a liability insurance.
A person giving peat treatments should also have the essential insurances. The statutory patient safety insurance for trained staff may not be sufficient, since peat treatments are not classified as so called official treatments.
Based on the increasing interest in balneology in spas and institutions, including peat treatments, there will be increasing demand for Health Peat in Finland. In addition, there is already an export market for Finnish Health Peat. The use of Health Peat has also gained in popularity in the field of self-care.
According to several Finnish and international experts, well-studied and tested Finnish Health Peat has great potential to gain ground in the international market.
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