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    The Krimml Waterfalls’ Health Secret

    What a spectacle of nature! The Krimml Waterfalls in Austria’s SalzburgerLand thunder down over a height of 380 metres (1,250 ft). Salzburg native Johanna Freidl, PhD tells us more about the health benefits of these waterfalls’ special aerosols.

    People have always lived near water. Blue and green are innately attractive to us.

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    Johanna Freidl PhD, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg
    • The Krimml Waterfalls: Waters of Wonder

      The 15-minute climb from the car park is already rather exciting. Throughout, you might think you hear a growling dragon behind every bend in the path. But this dragon turns out to not breathe fire, but water – a thunderous waterfall that fills the air with white clouds of spray mist: billions of microscopic droplets glittering in all the colours of the rainbow whenever the sun hits them.

      When you finally reach Europe’s highest waterfalls, you might mutter to yourself: “Wow… breathtaking!” As it turns out, it’s quite the opposite: people come to visit to finally breath freely in the waterfalls’ special spray mist. In a way, you’ve entered a gigantic therapy room, furnished with forests, rocks, and seemingly endless masses of water. 

      But in what way does the imposing natural spectacle, where waters fall from a height of 380 metres (1,250 ft), have actual therapeutic effects?

    • Can Spray Mist Boost Our Health?

      Over a period of thousands of years, humans evolved in nature. The benefits of moving to urban spaces came at a price: diseases of civilisation have become common. Are these factors related? How does nature impact our health? And how can we make use of these healing properties?

      These and similar questions are being researched at the Institute for Eco-Medicine at Salzburg’s Paracelsus Medical University. Welcome to the world of Johanna Freidl. She researches human habitats in forests and near bodies of water, and the physical and mental effects they have on people. Freidl is also part of the medical team at Hohe Tauern Health spa in SalzburgerLand. She treats patients looking to take advantage of the Krimml Waterfalls’ natural spray mist as part of what is sometimes called “water therapy”. “The medically accurate term is ‘inhalation aerosol therapy’, which describes the mechanism of action”, says Freidl.

    The Waterfall Trail

    Onwards and Upwards

    The twisty Waterfall Trail leads you to the top in about 1 hour and 15 minutes. On the way, you’ll experience a natural show in three acts. Conversations and cameras become unimportant. Marvelling at what’s in front of you, instead, seems the proper thing to do. Take a break on one of the platforms, close your eyes for a moment, feel the cool water spray, and breathe in the healthy particles.

    Krimml Waterfalls / Krimml Waterfalls
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    • The Secret of the Waterfalls

      “The reason for the Krimml Waterfalls’ healing properties when it comes to allergic respiratory tract inflammations is the atomised, respirable aerosol”, says Freidl. “The particles are 200 times smaller than an asthma inhaler’s droplets and can penetrate the airways that much more deeply.”

      Microscopic droplets with a negative charge stay in the air for a longer period of time, whilst those with a positive charge are larger and drop to the ground more quickly. Inhaling particles with a negative charge stimulates our immune system, alleviates or eliminates symptoms of allergies and asthma, and cleanses our airways. “A clinical study has proven the beneficial effects for allergic respiratory conditions”, confirms Freidl.

    • Front-Row Seats in the Spray Mist

      When you feel the fine mist in the air ever more intensely, you know it can’t be much longer until you arrive at the waterfalls. The air smells like pine needles, moist moss, and tree bark. You hear a mighty roar. Billions of water droplets are vaporised and turned into the healing mist.

      Breathe in and Get Well

      Linger a bit and breathe in. The aerosol is at its strongest right by the waterfall, where you can feel it wafting around you in waves.

    On to the Highlands

    Once you have reached the top, continue to Krimmler Achental valley, where the waterfalls originate. Here, in the midst of Hohe Tauern National Park, people have worked the land since the Middle Ages. In this storybook region, perfect for long hikes and walking tours, you’ll encounter the Krimmler Ache river. At first a tranquil stream flowing over highland plains, it soon crashes over rocky cliffs and turns into the Krimml Waterfalls as it spills into Salzachtal valley. The rest is archaeological history: A few kilometres downstream, a mighty river emerges. It’s the river that has given the entire region and the nearby city – Salzburg – its name: the Salzach river.

    National Park Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Cascades / National Park Hohe Tauern
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    It’s in our blood to feel good when we’re in nature. Life started out in nature, which is why we need it to relax and recharge – and to live healthy lives.

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    Johanna Freidl PhD, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg

    5 Waterfalls in Austria to Make You Marvel

    •                 Golling Waterfall / Golling Waterfall
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      Golling Waterfall in SalzburgerLand

      Located 30 km (18.6 mi) south of the city of Salzburg, this waterfall drops down over an impressive 75 vertical metres (246 ft) in two cascades.

      Visit Golling Waterfall
    •                 Mason waterfall above Braz
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      Mason Waterfall in Vorarlberg

      In Klostertal valley, you’ll find Alpine lakes and waterfalls aplenty. One of them, Mason Waterfall, has been designated a “natural monument”.

      Visit Mason Waterfall
    •                 Mountainbiking, region Klopeiner See South Carinthia, MTB zone, Wildensteiner waterfall
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      Wildensteiner Waterfall in Carinthia

      Waterfall or giant faucet? From a hole in a rockface, water spews forth into a small pool.

      Visit Wildensteiner Waterfall
    •                 Stuibenfall, Wasserfall im Ötztal
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      Stuibenfall Waterfall in Tirol

      Tirol’s tallest waterfall can be explored along a network of trails and viewing platforms or a via ferrata.

      Visit Stuibenfall
    •                 Grawa Waterfall in Upper Stubai Valley
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      Grawa Waterfall in Tirol

      Lie down on one of the wooden loungers along the widest waterfall in the eastern Alps and enjoy the spectacle.

      Visit Grawa Waterfall

    In nature, we aren’t exposed to the same sensory overload we experience in man-made places. The constant directional alertness we need in the city is not necessary here.

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    Johanna Freidl PhD, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg

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