The path of Salty Waters

Not far from Dovadola, a salty mineral water gushes out from several points of almost horizontal stratification in the high rocky slope. This is the part of the Apennines that has been eroded and carved out by the Montone river, which, after coming down from the Alpe di San Benedetto, flows into the Adriatic Sea near Ravenna.

The ground from which this mineral water springs is made up, as in almost all the Apennines, of layers of fossiliferous clay and micaceous limestone, interrupted from time to time by pure limestone.

These stratifications then appear in many different ways. In some places, they change from an almost horizontal to an almost vertical position.

If we observe the stratigraphy in the area where this water gushes out, we can see that it is almost horizontal, and we can see that the water flows from several points along the same line and falls into the Montone river below, from the bed of which these springs are about six fathoms higher.

The salinity of this water had been known for some time, so much so that the peasants and poor inhabitants of the area used to collect it in large quantities in order to secretly extract salt from it to season their food rations.

Federico Fiorentini, a chemist and one of the owners of the cliffs, noticed the water and decided to test the water to see if there were particular characteristics which would make the water suitable for use in medicine.

After this test, he found a certain amount of iodine in it and thought it might be of the same nature as that of Castrocaro and other similar ones not far from this place.

In 1856, he entrusted us with the task of carrying out a more accurate and thorough chemical analysis of this water, in order to determine not only the nature of the saline substances that mineralise it, but also their quantity and proportion.

This was followed by a series of measurements and experiments to determine the quantity of gaseous and solid substances that, by their very nature, could either dissolve or change outside the site.

THERAPEUTIC APPLICATIONS

This new salt and iodine mineral water can be used for medicinal purposes, either as a drink or in a bath.

Commercial water can be used for either purpose, but it would be more effective, especially for bathing, if it were used at source, where the water contains iron in solution and free carbon dioxide in addition to iodides and bromides.

This water, compared to the others, is much richer in iodides and bromides and, being almost sulphate-free, is not prone to catching the foul odour of hydrogen sulphide.

The use of iodine preparations has been widespread since it was believed that they could modify the scrofula diathesis and overcome the diseases dependent on it.

Mineral waters that contain bromine, which seems to support the action of iodine, are certainly of great help in special medical therapies: they are generally recommended for glandular engorgements, stromas and all the various types of morbidity related to scrofulous diathesis, for which iodine can be considered almost specific.

Ashwel, Cooper and others recommended iodine for chronic diseases of the uterus with thickening and hardening of the walls, and for ovarian and breast tumours.

These waters can be of great help in chronic leucorrhoea and gonorrhoea, in syphilitic diseases, in the removal of tumours and congestions of the ganglionic and glandular system and, above all, in curing the disorders caused by the abuse of mercurials.

Finally, they can be used with some success in atonic bronchitis and tubercular consumption, as well as in vain chronic nervous diseases.

Baths are therefore highly effective in the treatment of a variety of skin diseases, rheumatism, scrofula, gout and all those diseases in which the combination of iron and iodic preparations is of great value to the doctor.

So far, however, we have only briefly enumerated a number of human diseases in which these waters could be of great help, but we must not forget to warn that if used correctly, they can be of great benefit to the sick person, but if not, they can still be dangerous and even harmful.

The use of these waters, both internally and externally, must therefore be in accordance with the doctor’s instructions, who is the only one who can advise the patient on the dosage and assess individual tolerance.

This will prevent the sick person from being exposed to harmful consequences, not because of the medicine taken, but due to the inappropriate use of the medicine.
There is much more to say about the benefits and drawbacks of Castrocaro’s iodine water, but it would be pointless to return to these arguments, which can be easily found by any doctor who is interested.

To conclude this article, however, we will give a general comparative overview of the various sources of saline iodine water that have been found and analysed in Tuscany so far, to make the differences between them clear to any health professional – and to provide a practical guide for those who prefer specific types of water over others.

Finally, in order to validate our opinion on the usefulness of this new saline iodine water in medical practice, we will quote some certificates which confirm its efficacy in the cases they treat.

 

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