Sometimes the oldest and simplest products are the best. Mud from the lowland moorland of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia has been used for wellbeing for at least two thousand years – the Romans prized it for its health and strength promoting qualities and the Celts dunked themselves into the odd mud bath too. Now ‘Moor mud’ has become the latest ‘must try’ treatment for celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Trinny and Susannah, Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Palmer.
It’s thick and black (though odour free) and my first impression was one of mild distaste. I was introduced to the Moor at the (now sadly defunct) Tyringham Hall naturopathic clinic around 15 years ago. ‘Climb in and relax for twenty minutes,’ said the therapist, pointing at a bath full of murky black water. ‘Honestly, it’s lovely. Just make sure you have a little rest afterwards.’ I’m not really the mid-afternoon nap type but I obediently lay down in my room for the ‘little rest’ and didn’t wake up until sixteen hours later. I felt fabulous – serene yet energised and my skin was soft and toned. I’ve been hooked ever since and my son has grown up with mud rather than Matey in the bathtub.
Moor mud is unique because it has evolved over thousands of years (around 20,000 apparently). Over 1,000 herbs, plants, grasses and flowers have decomposed into the waters, turning it into a nutritious soup of vitamins, minerals, plant-based hormones and other phyto-nutrients.
Central Europeans prize their mud highly for its natural healing ability and it’s used, not only as a beauty adjunct but also by medical doctors and vets. A moor product is even used in Austrian casualty departments as a treatment for burns.
Research has shown that the mud has a variety of benefits. It can help to improve the circulation, it soothes tired and aching muscles and it can reduce swelling in painful joints. Some claim that drinking it can calm and heal the gut; some even believe it can help infertility.
What is certain is that the ooze acts as a natural exfoliator and also hydrates the body. Because the mud contains natural essential oils, fats and lipids, it is able to penetrate the skin with ease and many people swear it helps smooth away wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin. I couldn’t make that claim but I do find that a course of mud masks softens the skin and has a distinct firming effect.
Of course the celebrities get their mud fix in top spas and the Dorchester now boasts a ‘Moor Mud Experience’. But what I really love about the Moor is that it’s the ultimate DIY fix. You really don’t need any fancy techniques or white-gowned therapists to anoint you – just slap the stuff on your face, slug it in your bath and, if you’re feeling really hardcore sip it instead of juice for breakfast. Very Moorish.
Moor uses for mud
- Drink diluted (pasteurised) Moor mud before going to a party – it supposedly helps prevent hangovers.
- A Moor mud compress will soothe aching joints, muscular pain or sports injuries.
- Moor baths are deeply relaxing and excellent for soothing stress and insomnia. For best results have a course of 21 baths (daily or every other day). Soak for 20 minutes then pat yourself dry.
- Use the face mask regularly for a natural ‘face lift’. Even one treatment the night before a big day will tighten and tone the skin.
- Supposedly Moor water can aid weight loss, as it balances blood sugar levels and relieves cravings for sweet foods. You can drink it, for the squeamish, take a supplement.
Hydrating Herbal bath, £11.95 for 500ml; Earth Essence capsules, from £22.50; Moor Herbal Drink £19.95 www.moorbodycare.co.uk
Moor Mud Experience at the Dorchester spa £95 for 55 minutes. www.thedorchester.com
Kerstin Florian Moor Mud masque, £25.75 for 133ml. www.kerstinflorian.co.uk