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Hydrotherapy, Water Heals Us All

by Phillip James

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, and safest methods for treating many common ailments.

We know from personal experience that water is not just for cleansing, but also for helping us feel better. When you sink into that tub of hot water after a strenuous day, you do so knowing that you’ll feel much improved when you’re done, as the hot water relieves your fatigue, and helps to prevent stress related stiffness.

Ancient civilizations long ago 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 are perfect for 'whole body' treatments, where the water has to come to shoulder level. There are also sitz baths, which are for treating the bottom, hips, and lower abdomen. There is also the foot bath, the vapor bath, and various others concentrating on specific parts of the body.

Adding various herbs, or healing essential oils to the water increases the value of the bath. Utilize the combinations recommended for whatever may ail you.

The 'whole body' bath should be about 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and shoulder deep. A warm bath is soothing to the nerves and is said to be helpful for bladder and urinary problems, mild colds, and low fevers. The hot bath should last at least 20 minutes.

The sitz bath should have only enough water to immerse the bottom and hips. The cold sitz bath, or the hot then 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.

For a soothing footbath, simply place your feet and calves into a deep pot filled with water. For cold feet, a hot water footbath of about 15 minutes is helpful. This is also good 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, headaches, and high blood pressure.

Alternating hot and cold baths are said to be good for treating arthritic issues of the hands and feet. Place water as hot as you can stand it in one bowl, ice water in the other. Put your hands or feet in the hot water for one minute, then plunge into the cold for 20 seconds. Then back into hot, and then the cold again, until a total of 10 minutes have been spent doing this. End the process with a plunge into the ice water.

Other forms of hydrotherapy include:

  • Warm or cold compresses
  • Specialized equipment, such as a whirlpool, etc.
  • Water-based, or pool exercise programs
  • Using the effects of turbulence, buoyancy, warmth and resistance, the recovery from surgery and/or injury can be dramatic. Even paralyzed limbs and muscles can benefit from this.
  • Hydrotherapy is often the treatment of choice when faced with the early post-surgical patient.

Water healing is one of those rare treatments that can assist us with our physical, and emotional concerns, either in well appointed specialty spas, or right in the comfort of our own homes. What could be easier?

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