While spas have long touted their ability to treat the mind, body, and spirit, some are now venturing into a new frontier: brain health. With people living longer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and memory loss have become especially concerning to those wanting to maintain healthy brain function throughout their later years. “Dementia or loss of cognitive ability is a concern to seniors who would like to age younger, healthier, and cheaper,” says Richard Carmona, M.D., Canyon Ranch chief of health innovation and 17th surgeon general of the U.S. “Spas are a natural option to extend their content offerings around brain health.”
It goes without saying that brain health is fundamental to overall wellbeing. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), failing brain health is a public health epidemic, and three out of five Americans will develop a brain disease in their lifetime. The AHA also reports that by 2030, the total cost of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke is expected to exceed $1 trillion. It’s no surprise then that spas, champions of wellbeing, would begin to address the factors that contribute to a healthy brain.
One spa taking the lead on brain health is Sha Wellness Clinic (Alicante, Spain), which introduced Brain Photo Modulation (BPM). It works to oxygenate brain cells, translating to more energy, better performance, and a more positive state of mind. According to Bruno Ribeiro do Couto, Ph.D., who heads up the Cognitive Development and Brain Stimulation Unit at Sha, spa-goers are demanding an integrative solution to improve their health and wellbeing. “We have seen a remarkable increase in guests coming to Sha specifically for this kind of treatment, guests who are looking to experience the many advancements of technology in wellness,” he says. “This appeals to guests who are wondering how they can age with a brain that is functioning at its maximum, looking to improve their energy and performance, and/or treat specific neurological diseases such as chronic pain and sleep disorders.”
Mental health also factors into the equation, as more and more people grapple with anxiety and depression. “In today’s hectic world, stress is the disease that most affects society on an emotional level,” says Ribeiro do Couto. “We need to balance our life and manage the internal situation of stress that can develop disorders, such as brain fog that many of us may experience. This often manifests as trouble concentrating, scattered thinking, feeling dull and unmotivated, experiencing poor memory and forgetfulness, and generally having cloudy thoughts.”
Frustrated by the massive void in delivery of health care for patients with traumatic brain injury, concussions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic depression, stress, and anxiety, Amir Vokshoor, M.D., founder and CEO of Neurovella Brain Spa (Santa Monica, CA) set out to fill that void with a spa specializing in innovative therapies to help address symptoms associated with a variety of neurological conditions. From virtual guided meditation to brain wave entrainment to multi-frequency acoustic vibrations, the spa provides spa-goers with a host of options for optimizing their mental, emotional, and physical health.
Canyon Ranch (multiple locations) has been at the forefront of brain health, long recognizing the importance it has to wellbeing. The spa even offers a formal brain health week in which nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, and stress are addressed. “As brain science rapidly evolves, there are many modalities that will emerge that relate to enhanced brain health,” says Carmona. “This may include but not be limited to trans-cranial electrical stimulation, more precise exercise and nutrition, detailed genomics of neuroplasticity, and better mechanisms to measure and document changes.”
For the full digital edition of American Spa's 2020 Trend Report, click here.