What is hydrotherapy?
The benefits of "water healing," or hydrotherapy have been recognized
for thousands of years. In Europe, where hydrotherapy is especially
popular, there are numerous health spas and health facilities for
all types of "water cures."
Water healing is one of the oldest, cheapest and safest methods
for treating many common ailments. We know from personal experience
that water is not just for cleansing, but for making us feel better.
When you plop into that tub of hot water, after a strenuous day,
you know you'll feel much better when you're done, for hot water
relieves fatigue and prevents stiffness.
Ancient civilizations recognized the healing power of natural
hot and cold springs. Back in the 4th century BC., the Greek physician
Hippocrates prescribed bathing and drinking spring water for its
therapeutic effects. The Romans built outstanding communal baths
because they believed in the value of hot springs.
Water healing at home couldn't be simpler. Baths and showers are
good for whole body treatments. In the whole body treatment, the
water has to come to shoulder level. Then there are sitz baths,
which are for treating only the bottom, hips, and lower abdomen.
Then there is the foot bath, the vapor bath, and various others
concentrating on specific parts of the body. Adding various healing
herbs to the water increases the value of the bath.
The Full Bath should be about 90 to 95F and shoulder deep. A warm
bath is soothing to the nerves and helpful for bladder and urinary
problems, mild colds, and low fevers. Adding herbs helps to soften
and moisturize, and can stimulate or relax. The hot bath should
last at least 20 minutes.
The sitzbath should have only enough water to immerse the bottom
and hips. The cold sitz bath or the hot followed by cold is especially
beneficial for ailments affecting the abdomen and the reproductive
system, inflammations, pelvic congestion, cramps, hemorrhoids, menstrual
problems, and kidney and intestinal pains.
With a footbath, you simply put the feet and calves into a deep
pot filled with water. For cold feet, a hot footbath of about 15
minutes is helpful. This is also helpful for bladder, kidney, throat
and ear inflammations.
For tired feet, a cold footbath is recommended. While an alternating
hot and cold footbath is said to promote circulation in the legs,
help varicose veins, insomnia, headache and high blood pressure.
Alternating hot and cold baths are good for treating hands and
feet, with water as hot as you can stand it, in one bowl, ice water
in the other. Put hands or feet in the hot water for one minute,
then plunge into the cold for 20 seconds. Then back into hot and
cold again until a total of 10 minutes have been spent doing this,
ending with the plunge into the ice water. Beneficial for arthritic
joints and tired, aching feet, and the alternating hot and cold
Remember that the application of heat is soothing, easing muscle
tension and relieving pain. Heat also improves circulation by causing
blood vessels to dilate. Cold can either be stimulating or soothing.
Water healing is helpful in maintaining metabolic function, and
in making us feel much better, and is easily accomplished right
in our own homes.