BBC Profiles the Naftalan Oil Baths
The BBC has a short video about Naftalan, Azerbaijan’s oil baths, a health spa industry that’s been ramping up in the last few years as it makes a comeback after a retreat from it’s hey-day in the late Soviet era. The video shows just about what you’d expect for something that seems a little ridiculous. At one point, I was worried that the featured oil-bather had passed out in his mini vat of oil.
Let’s just note a couple odd things about this video:
1) The advertisement I viewed before the video was from ArkansasRenews.com, an Arkansas campaign for green energy and against foreign oil.
2) The advertisement about the evils of foreign oil prefaces a news story highlighting the strange health benefits of bathing in foreign oil
3) The reporter talks to the Azeris as if they understand what he’s saying, after which it becomes fairly obvious that they don’t know English.
Aside from the reporter making it sound like Azerbaijanis started doing this last week (this practice has been around for decades, if not centuries), BBC covers it fairly well. It also looks like the reporter is trying not to laugh the entire time he’s on camera.
I’ve heard about a few Peace Corps Volunteers doing this, heading up to Naftalan and spending the day mucked up in oil. I can’t say that this necessarily appeals to me but, at the same time, I’m not the one trying to shoo away pesky arthritis problems. Also, I’ve heard that it can take much longer than the stated 10 minutes to actually get the oil completely off…we’re talking about days, weeks.
For more information on oil baths, check out the New York Times article from about five years ago here. Read about it in The Independent from two summers ago here. And there are two articles from Azerbaijan International here and here. If you believe it, enjoy the ‘oil that heals!’