Hydrotherapy Healing With Water
Hydrotherapy can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where the royalty bathed in large, warm pools of water mixed with essential oils and flowers.
Hydrotherapy was also popular in India, Japan and China where natural hot springs rich in minerals were often used to cleanse the body and soul of its impurities.
Modern hydrotherapy in Europe started in the 1700's, with Vincent Priessnitz, an Austrian farmer who prescribed combinations of "water, food & air" in place of traditional medicine to cure common ailments and health issues.
Hydrotherapy uses water to deliver temperature and pressure changes to the body. These changes are sensed by the body via nerve endings in the skin and muscle, and result in neural "reflex effects" that are controlled by the brain and spinal chord.
Hot and cold water act in different ways on the body. As well as the sensory effect, there are other "hidden" changes that take place when there is an interaction with hot or cold water.
Hot Water Hydrotherapy
In a reflexive response to external heat, your body creates changes that help keep
the body cool, including dilating blood vessels to increase the blood flow, moving
blood flow to the extremities and the surface of the skin, opening the pores, stimulating
sweat glands and relaxing muscles.
For a short period of time, a hot bath will cause organs of the endocrine system to
become less active, particularly the adrenal gland, and can decrease blood
pressure. This produces a relaxed, less stressful state and helps soothe the
nervous system. Hot baths are often used
to relax, promote blood flow, aid in the healing process, tone the body,
stimulate the immune system, and alleviate muscle, joint or connective tissue disorders
and injuries. Generally a hot soak can prevent headaches, improve sleep and
By increasing the blood flow in the body, a hot bath helps the circulation of
white blood cells, enabling the immune system to work faster and more efficiently.
A hot soak increases the production of endorphins or body's "pain killers" which
are associated with euphoria and happiness. Endorphins also stimulate the
immune system, reduce pain, and help tissues heal faster.
Inhaling hot water vapor (steam) has a positive effect on the lungs and can help clear respiratory infections.
The moist, hot air causes the small airways and air sacs in the lungs to dilate and increases the
lung's ability to discharge phlegm and mucus. Generally inhaling vapor can also
help people breathe in more easily.
Help control blood sugar in diabetics
Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that people
with Type 2 Diabetes had an easier time controlling their plasma sugar levels
and weight when they soaked in hot water daily, 6 days a week. In some cases,
people required less insulin each day as well. The increased blood flow, which
mimics exercise and decreases activity of the endocrine system while increasing
blood circulation, plays a role in the body's ability to maintain glucose
levels. Hydrotherapy is especially helpful in alleviating painful symptoms in
people who have a harder time exercising than those who do not.
Cold Water Hydrotherapy
Cold water or ice creates an opposite effect to the body than hot water. Cold water
and ice causes the body to conserve heat. As a result, blood vessels in the
body constrict, decreasing the amount of blood that flows through them. Blood
flow moves from the extremities to the center of the body and internal
organs, to help keep them warm and functioning smoothly. The pores of the skin
close, sweat glands shut down, muscles tense, and some endocrine system organs,
like the adrenal gland, become more active.
Over short durations, cold water makes a person feel more alert and less tired.
Cold water Hydrotherapy is not as popular as hot water Hydrotherapy, mainly
because it can be uncomfortable, but its restorative benefits to health are
just as powerful. Cold water Hydrotherapy is used to invigorate, wake up, increase internal organ functions, and to stimulate if feeling weak or mentally tired, . It
also slows the heart rate and can cause slight elevations in blood pressure.
A quick cold shower can alleviate depression, treat headaches, raise blood
pressure and improve varicose veins. For someone who is weak or old, using a room
temperature footbath is less shocking and has a milder affect.
Slowing the blood flow is important for healing injuries. It can prevent cellular
fluid build up at the site of an injury, and have a numbing effect
on pain receptor nerves at injury sites. As a result, cold water is often used
to alleviate swelling and pain, particularly in the muscles and joints.
Hot and cold hydrotherapy can be used alternatively to effectively help tone and
relax muscles, particularly in people whose mobility is limited.
Cold Towel Compress - drench a small cotton towel with cold water and wring out. Place on area to be treated. Replace as it gets warm.
This is good for headaches at the front of the head, kidney stones, throat problems and tonsillitis.
Hot Towel Compress - drench a small cotton hand towel with hot water and wring out. Place on area to be treated. Replace as it cools.
This is good for tight muscles, colds (place on back of neck), and relaxing body in general.
Footbaths are great for helping to relieve rheumatic pains and aches, excessive
perspiration, revive tired and burning feet (and a tired body) and are deeply
relaxing for the whole body. They can also create warmth, promote circulation,
ease cold symptoms, and move energy.
Soaking the feet also works on the principal that the feet are connected to every part
of the body and uses the healing power of water to bring relaxation and draw
toxins out of the body through sweat glands in the feet. For simple relaxation
and detoxification at home, soak your feet in a basin of warm water. Add
lavender essential oil or lemon juices to refresh, tea tree oil for fungal
infection, and ginger or rosemary infusion to warm up in winter. Add a handful
of sea salt to help de-acidify the body. Also helps to break down lactic acid,
which makes the body stiff.
Hot water footbaths are good for stress, relaxation, and tight kidneys. Adding
ginger juice to the footbath increases warmth and circulation and is especially
helpful for arthritis and rheumatism.
Hot salted footbath is good for insomnia and tight kidneys.
Cold/room temperature salted footbath is helpful for diabetes, weak kidneys or difficulty falling asleep.
Epsom salts can be added instead of salt to a footbath. This increases energy, relieves aches and pains and also clears energy field.
A good hand soak will help with rheumatism or arthritic pain; ease cramps and is also a wonderful way to give
your hands some extra attention.