Every time I go to our beautiful beaches here in Portland, Maine, I find smooth stones that I know would feel so good when heated and put on the body for an awesome hot stone massage. The big ones feel great on the sacrum and stomach, little ones fit perfectly between the toes, medium sized ones go along the spine. It’s amazing when you start to notice these stones and think of the healing and relaxing qualities that they can provide. Hot stone massage isn’t just a modern day spa luxury. Cultures all over the world have been using hot and cold stones for therapy and healing since ancient times. Ancient Greek and Roman cultures have a history of using stones in many forms of massage and bodywork. The Roman Empire, (27 B.C. to 476 A.D.), is noted for its creation of the Roman baths. The Romans also used stones in saunas and combined the effects of hot immersion baths with the cooling effects of marble stone and cold pools. Hot stone massage was used 5000 years ago in India and with the ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda, which balances three substances—wind, spirit and air. They would take smooth stones from river beds and then warmed or cooled them to use in healing and massage. In Asian cultures, hot stone massage has been used for close to 4,000 years. Hot stone massage was considered to help with digestion and improve the function of the internal organs. The hot stones were placed directly on the stomach to ease pain. Hot stones were also used to help promote better energy flow and with Asian massage. The Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago as a means of improving the function of internal organs. Stones were also used for healing work in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Egypt. These traditions included using stones for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, laying stones in patterns on the body, carrying or wearing stones for health and protection, and for ceremonial uses, such as sweat lodges and medicine wheels. In some cultures women believed that simply holding stones during labor added to their strength and endurance. Stones were heated and used to diminish the discomfort of menstruation, and the application of cold stones were used to slow bleeding after labor. Medicine men, or Kahunas, in Hawaii have used hot stones for massage and healing for many years. With traditional Lomi Lomi Hawaiian massage, heated lava stones are placed directly on the body to increase blood circulation. Lava rock balls are also used to scrape and polish the skin.