You might be surprised but Swiss cheese baths were a huge thing in the 19th century. Yes you read that right, these cheese baths consisted of taking a dip in a tub filled with whey! Whey, the liquid leftover from cheese production, was once a cornerstone of Swiss spa culture. While not as ubiquitous today, whey baths are experiencing a fascinating resurgence, offering a glimpse into the country’s historical spa practices, the resourcefulness of its people, and a growing appreciation for all-natural wellness experiences.

Cheese Bathing & Whey’s Historical Significance

For centuries, whey wasn’t simply discarded as a byproduct. Renowned for its perceived medicinal properties, it was a treasured ingredient. Whey baths were believed to be a panacea for a variety of ailments. From easing the aches and pains of rheumatism to soothing irritated skin and promoting muscle recovery, whey was touted as a natural remedy. Historical records mention people from all walks of life flocking to Swiss spa towns, eager to immerse themselves in the warm, whey-infused waters, seeking relief and rejuvenation.

Whey Back - The Swiss Cheese bathing resurgence Interlaken advenure history

Modern day benefits of Whey & Swiss Cheese Baths

The exact science behind whey’s purported health benefits remains somewhat murky today. However, recent research is starting to shed light on the potential benefits of whey. Studies suggest that whey protein may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could explain its historical use in treating rheumatism and muscle pain. Additionally, the lactic acid content in whey might contribute to exfoliation, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth.

The allure of whey baths extended beyond their perceived healing properties. The warm, slightly milky water was said to leave skin incredibly soft and smooth. This, combined with the supposed health benefits, made whey a highly prized spa ingredient. Local cheesemakers, recognizing the additional value of their whey, partnered with spa establishments, creating a symbiotic relationship that benefited both parties.

However, the rise of modern medicine, changing spa trends and the industrialization of cheese production slowly relegated whey baths to the fringes of Swiss spa culture. For a time, they became a niche experience, primarily offered by a handful of traditional spas that held onto this unique piece of history. But a shift is happening.

The global wellness movement, with its emphasis on natural ingredients and holistic approaches to well-being, has reignited interest in whey baths. People are increasingly seeking out unique and authentic spa experiences that connect them to local traditions and cultures. Whey baths perfectly capture this spirit. They offer a chance to escape the ordinary, indulge in a centuries-old tradition, and potentially experience a range of health and beauty benefits in a natural Swiss Alpine setting.

Whey Back - The Swiss Cheese bathing resurgence Interlaken advenure

Whey Baths on Alpine Cheese Farms

Swiss alpine cheesemakers and mountain dairies are bringing back whey bath experiences. As they have an ample and regular supply of whey due to their local cheesemaking they, are letting willing people take a dip in a whey filled bathtub, or alternatively a whey footbath, more and more often. Being often located high on a mountain Alp and only reached by foot after a big hike these cheese baths make for a perfect relaxing, rejuvenating and fun mountain experience. Add a local cheeseboard and a glass of bubbles or beer with amazing Alpine views and you get a truly unique experience.

Whey Back - The Swiss Cheese bathing resurgence Taking a whey bath in the Alps, 1997.

Interlaken Whey (Foot)Bath

Around Interlaken whey baths and footbaths are hidden on a select few Alpine cheese farms. Join one of our trips to experience a whey footbath while also learning about Swiss traditional cheesemaking, cheese tasting, cow cuddling and a whole lot more.

Resurgence of Swiss Cheese Baths

So, the next time you find yourself in Switzerland, consider venturing beyond the standard spa offerings or cheese tastings and visit an Alpine dairy that embraces the history of cheesemaking and whey bathing. Immerse yourself in the warm whey waters, and let the cares of the world melt away as you experience a unique chapter in Swiss cheesemaking and spa tradition. This historical wellness practice is making its whey back finding new life in the modern Alpine cheesemaking world.

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