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History of medicinal mud

Mud therapy is one of the oldest therapeutic procedures.

Mud therapy has been used in Estonia for nearly 200 years. 

The experience of the ancient Egyptians with mud therapy spans thousands of years. Egyptians used Nile mud to treat a wide variety of ailments.


Affected body parts were covered with warm mud or simply placed hands and feet in mud followed by sunburn.


The Greeks and Romans knew and used mud therapy at the beginning of our era. In the 14th century, lectures on the therapeutic use of mineral mud were held in Italy (Padua). The mud at the bottom of the lakes was used by Crimean Tatars, Caucasians. In Odessa mud immersions were common, in Norway and Sweden the sick were rubbed with mud.

Sea mud found on the west coast of Estonia was used in many ways: diseased limbs were placed in sea mud warmed by the sun or the mud was heated in a sauna. The first mud treatment facility was founded at the beginning of the 19th century, in Haapsalu in 1825. Later, Professor Karl Schlossman and Professor Dr. Vadi studied the therapeutic properties of Haapsalu sea mud at the University of Tartu.

According to the level of knowledge about the existence and properties of mud therapy, mud therapy has also gone through many stages of development over time. Years ago, the so-called full mud baths, which are more difficult for patients to tolerate. Today, either general or local coils are mainly used.

Tomb of Ramose

Haapsalu Resort

The history of Haapsalu as a resort town dates back to 1820, when the district doctor Carl Abraham Hunnius came to work in Haapsalu.

While treating the local population, Hunnius came across a unique folk medicine technique - sea mud. Dr. Hunnius had the chemistry of sea mud studiedi.e. composition and tested the new mud treatment methodology on his relatives and patients.

The results were positive and many Tartu doctors and university lecturers were enthusiastic about the new treatment method. In 1825, the slope of Haapsalu Eeslahe was built at the initiative of Dr. Hunniusale's first water mud farm. In 1845, another much larger and more comfortable mud farm was completed by Tagalahe. 

The resort town, lined with many bays and islets, became especially valued among the rich nobility of St. Petersburg and the Russian imperial court.​ Czars Peter I, Alexander I, Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II came to Haapsalu to improve their health and enjoy a quiet life. .

 1867. In 2010, the world-famous Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky summered in Haapsalu, where he composed one part of his first opera 'Vojevood' and the cycle of instrumental pieces 'Memories of Haapsalu'. 


The famous Russian painting and theater artist Nikolai Roerich also discovered the charms of the resort town for himself. From his last visit in 1910, the well-known works 'Beyond the seas are large lands' and 'Varjaag motif' originate. 

During the Republic of Estonia (1918–1940), Haapsalu continued to be a popular summer town. In 1938, a large, modern sanatorium building was completed, and in July of the same year, representatives of 21 nationalities summered here. 


In addition to professors and musicians, high-ranking statesmen and well-known businessmen from all over the world summered here. Many outstanding Estonian state and cultural figures Aino Kallas, Friedebert Tuglas, Villem Grünthal-Ridala, Oskar Luts and others also summered in Haapsalu.

After the occupation of Estonia, sanatorium activities were reorganized according to Soviet laws. The sanatorium 'Laine', which was already established during the Republic of Estonia and is still operating successfully, was expanded. 


Patients from all over the Soviet Union arrived here. In newly independent Estonia, the restoration of Haapsalu mud treatment traditions was started again. In 1994, the renewed sanatorium 'Laine' started operating, a small mud villa of the same name appeared on the plot of the former Bergfeldt farm. 


In 1997, the health and recreation center Fra Mare was completed under the Paralepa pines. Haapsalu continues to inform the whole world as a resort town.


 C.A. Hunnius 

The scientific and conscious approach to sea mud as a treatment tool, as well as the emergence of a resort of all-Russian fame in Haapsalu, is related to medical doctor Carl Abraham Hunnius.C. A.

​Hunnius was born on August 3 (v.k.j. July 23) in 1797 in Tallinn in the family of a large German merchant. His father came from Magdeburg and was a descendant of the famous professor of theology, Aegidius Hunnius, who fought for Luther's teachings in the 16th century. 

Carl Abraham received his general education at Tallinn Toomskool and studied medicine at the University of Tartu in 1815–1819. Coming to Haapsallu In 1820, 23-year-old Carl Abraham Hunnius, who had just graduated from the university, came to Haapsallu as an assistant to G. Printz, the district doctor at the time, and as the manager of the hospital for the disabled.​

The beginning of the century had been full of wars for Russia. Although it did not directly affect Haapsalu, the reverberations of the sufferings of the war still extended to this day: most of the patients of the invalid commando hospital were former soldiers, now disabled and sick war invalids who needed treatment and care. 

Apparently, Dr. The main activity of Hunnius was initially related to the military hospitals of the time and the treatment of war invalids. In addition to his main work, he also had to help local residents. 


The beginning of serious research In addition to practical activities, C. A. Hunnius was also interested in scientific problems, and already in 1821 he defended a thesis at the University of Tartu, in which he dealt with purulent inflammation of the skin, which was relatively widespread among Estonians at that time, which often caused general blood poisoning and often ended in death.

One copy of the Latin thesis entitled "De morbo: Sinni wil (blaue Blatter) nominato, carbunculo quodam Esthonia rusticis endemo" is currently kept in the Läänemaa Museum. 


The professors of the University of Tartu at the time considered his dissertation to be one of the most weighty and comprehensive studies of those years. After successfully defending his dissertation, the young doctor of medicine hoped to move abroad for a while, but the stressful work at the invalid command hospital and as an assistant to the district doctor, and later as a district doctor, forced him to abandon this idea. Only in 1845 and 1847 did he take two trips abroad to improve his professional knowledge.

The way to therapeutic mud In his daily treatment work, the talented young medical doctor was always looking for new ways to increase the effectiveness of treatment. He prescribed original medicinal mixtures, promoted the use of seawater from Haapsalu Bay for bathing, which was practiced here since 1805. 


As soon as he arrived in Haapsallu, however, he became particularly interested in one method of treatment, which had not been written about in medical books and which had not been dealt with by trained doctors, but which the local people knew well and also used quite widely. 

In R. Kaulitz-Niedeck's book "Hapsal, ein nordisches al fresco" (1930) it is written how dr. Hunnius to get acquainted with the healing properties of Haapsalu sea mud. 

Everyday medical duties often took the doctor to the families of poor coastal fishermen. During one such trip, he noticed an old fisherman keeping his bare feet in the sun-warmed mud. When asked what he was doing there, the old man answered that he had a runny nose and that soaking his feet in the warm sea mud would bring relief. 

Dr. Hunnius began to investigate the matter scientifically. He made his first experiments with his patients and the soldiers of the local garrison. In the case of several diseases, the treatment results were surprisingly good, and based on the experience gained, Dr. Indications and methodology for using Hunnius mud. 

He recommended local wraps, baths (diluted with warm seawater), massages and rubs with the mud. The procedure was followed by a warm sea bath. In the list of mud and sea water treatment, Hunnius found about twenty diseases, but also diseases,
against which, from the point of view of modern knowledge, mud can no longer help. In addition to clinical observations, he also made some simpler chemical studies of the composition of the mud.


 Haapsalu's first mud farm 

In 1825, Dr. Haapsallu was founded. At the instigation and guidance of Hunnius, the first water-mud village, which was located on what is now Suur-Liiva street, was built with the money of the local progressive Count Magnus De la Gardie. Because Count De la Gardie's relatives living in Sweden began to mockingly call him and his wife sauna keepers, the count sold it to the pharmacist Franz Heinrich Brasche already a few months after its completion.


 The continuation of life's work is born 

In retrospect, the fact that on March 28 of the same year a son, Karl Arthur, was born in the Hunnius family, who became the continuation of his father's life's work, also seems meaningful. Dr. The Hunnius family lived in a large stone house, with the current address Karja 6, which previously belonged to the Ungern-Sternbergs and mis probably the dowry of Carl Abraham's wife, Baroness Alexandra von Ungern-Sternberg. 

Many notable people have stayed in this house. The most famous of them is probably medical professor Nikolai Pirogov, who is primarily known for being the first to introduce plaster casts and ether anesthesia. As a great expert in his field, Pirogov recommended using the mud for the aftercare of surgical diseases.

 Ravimuda and Haapsalu's fame keeps growing 

Many Tartu doctors and university professors were enthusiastic about the new treatment method and considered it very promising. 

It can be assumed that the name Haapsalu became known among the high aristocracy of St. Petersburg thanks to Philipp Jakob Karelli from Estonia, who was the physician of Nicholas I and Alexander II. 

C. A. Hunnius's articles introducing Haapsalu, which he sent mainly to St. Petersburg newspapers, also helped to increase the reputation of the resort. Social work of C. A. Hunnius in 1830. got dr. Hunnius became a district doctor and his field of work expanded even further, but in addition to his main work, he dealt with a number of educational and social issues as a city councilor. 

In 1839, on his initiative, a school with the Estonian language of instruction was opened in Haapsalu. The Haapsalu district school inspector Alexander Heinrich Neus, who was one of the first researchers of Estonian folklore, could certainly have been behind the founding of the Estonian-language school. 

Later, Hunnius organized fundraisers among the city's wealthiest citizens and guests and bought a tavern building with the money received, where a welfare institution for the poor was established in 1844. 

The house was located in the present Tallinn mnt. and Lihula mnt. wellrgal, where there is a car park now.

National recognition for life's work As a kind and welcoming doctor and an active social figure, Hunnius earned great support among patients and the entire population of Haapsalu, and his merits did not go unnoticed in higher circles as well. 


In 1838, he was awarded the title of state councilor and Hunnius was raised to nobility.


  Haapsalu's new modern mud villa 

In 1845, the husband of C. A. Hunnius died, but the year also brought joy. A new, up-to-date hospital was built with the capital of the baron Ungern-Sternberg of Suuremansi, which was located in the area where the bust of C. A. Hunnius is now. 

When furnishing the clinic, Dr. Hunnius' experience gained in a quarter of a century of practical treatment and all the possibilities of modern medical science were used. 

The finished institution could modernize its interior and

in terms of the modernity of the treatment organization, successfully compete with any foreign mud and water treatment of the time. 

From 1948, Haa remainedpsallu to operate two up-to-date mud balneotherapy facilities. Both were founded on the initiative of C. A. Hunnius and continued to operate many years after his death.


 End of life 

In April 1851, Doctor Hunnius was called to see a sick girl who had arrived from St. Petersburg. It was probably an infection, because shortly after the visit, the doctor himself developed the same symptoms. 

Despite the efforts of his colleagues, C. A. Hunnius' life ended after a few days of illness on May 10. 

She was buried next to her husband at the old cemetery in Haapsalu.
Carl Abraham Hunnius's eldest son Karl Arthur Hunnius, who is also buried next to his father in the old cemetery in Haapsalu, succeeded him both as a district doctor and in the field of spa medicine.


Ülla Paras, Läänemaa Museum

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