DOREEN NAWA, Rufunsa
DALITSO Ngoma, 29, lives near the Chinyunyu hot spring, a spot that becomes alive every weekend as people from all walks of life flock there in numbers.
The people may have a number of reasons but one of them is to gain from the health benefits the hot water from the springs is said to offer.
“I have been here from birth. Earlier, the hot spring was only frequented by us the indigenous people to bath. Now the number of people coming to visit the hot springs keeps increasing especially during weekends.
Among the activities visitors do is to soak their feet in hot water.
It is said the mineral-rich water offer health benefits.
Though Mr Ngoma is not sure how the benefits come about, he says he has experienced it.
Due to the apparent health benefits, some visitors, according to Mr Ngoma, collect the hot water from the springs which are located in Rufunsa district about 80 kilometers from Lusaka.
The hot spring is also a tourist attraction under the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC).
Experts say hot spring water has been used for thousands of years and it is widely accepted in natural treatment options for various common ailments.
The hot spring water is said to relieve pain, stress and skin woes, among others.
And Gerald Chabu, a resident of Lusaka’s Chelstone Township believes in the healing properties of the hot water.
“I remember a year ago, I had some rheumatism problem on my back I took various pain killers and there was no change. I went to the hot spring on a Saturday and bathed there and I had some relief. With time, the pain was gone completely,” Mr Chabu says.
Mr Chabu believes that if one suffers from chronic muscle pain like arthritis or any form of rheumatism, soaking in a pool of hot-spring water can relieve pain.
Additionally, Mr Chabu said when his body was submerged in hot-spring water, the buoyancy encouraged a freer movement by naturally supporting his joints.
And 91- year- old Albert Sakala who relocated to the hot spring area in 1972 says living closer to the hot spring has been beneficial because the water is used for various ailments.
“Stress relief does not have to come in the form of a pill. Excess stress can be remedied naturally by immersing your body in a hot-spring water bath. I have been doing this since I came here and I have no regrets”, he says.
From his experience, Mr Sakala is confident that the minerals in the water contribute to the healing process, while heat relaxes tense muscles.
He says improved sleep can be an added benefit.
From a distance of 10 metres away, the water from the hot emits a scent of Sulphur.
And NHCC public relations manager Isaac Kanguya says from his experience, the water can heal skin rash.
“We are actually about to start charging for collecting water from the hot springs because it has become a norm for people to get water from the hot spring for various usage. Scientifically, this water has a lot health benefits,” Mr Kanguya says.
Mr Kanguya says the natural hot spring water contains a variety of minerals, including calcium and sodium bicarbonate.
And a therapist, Ahmed Suresh, says when one has a bath in a hot spring, their skin soaks in these minerals and their hydrostatic pressure rises.
“As this process continues, from circulation and oxygen flow increases much like when you exercise. An oxygenated circulatory system is beneficial in keeping not only your heart, but your body’s other vital organs and tissues healthy and strong,” Mr Suresh says.
Mr Suresh says when applied directly to the skin, mineral-rich hot-spring water can help to naturally relieve certain skin conditions.
“The high silica content found in hot springs can smoothen and soften dry, rough skin. Similarly, the medicinal properties of the water’s sulfur content can relieve uncomfortable eczema and psoriasis symptoms,” he says.
But NHCC regional director of the East Central Region Kagosi Mwamulowe says research on the Chinyunyu hot spring is on-going.
“There is no finalised research conducted, but depending on the mineral composition, the water from the hot spring is beneficial. But one thing is for sure, the water is not good for drinking, it causes the rusting of teeth, because of teeth calcium which reacts to Sulphur, the mineral in that water,” Mr Mwamulowe says.
He defines a hot spring as an emission of hot water produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the earth’s crust.
There are geothermal hot springs in many locations all over the the world. While some of these springs contain water that is a safe temperature for bathing, others are so hot that immersion can result in injury or death.
Hot springs in Zambia are formed due to a reef failure formation and not from a failed volcano,” he says.
He says hot springs in Zambia are common in valleys like Luangwa and Luano adding that the Chinyunyu hot springs lie in the Luano Valley.
DOREEN NAWA, Rufunsa