Hydrotherapy is the use of water to relieve physical discomfort and to improve or maintain health and vitality. Hydrotherapy uses different temperatures and forms of water, including hot, cold, steam or ice.
The benefits of hydrotherapy have been recognized and appreciated for thousands of years.
In fact, the first known documentation of hydrotherapy comes from the Greek physician Hippocrates (5th century B.C.) who promoted bathing in mineral spring water for its healing benefits.
The Romans were famous for their public baths and the Egyptians for their fragrant healing baths infused with essential oils and flower essences.
In the 19th century, Father Sebastian Kneipp and an Austrian farmer, Vincent Priessnitz, were responsible for making the therapeutic and medicinal practices of hydrotherapy more globally known and accepted.
Just a few of the many benefits of hydrotherapy include the following:
Hot water raises body temperature, causes blood vessels to dilate, increases circulation, supplies more oxygen to the tissues, and causes sweating which helps to remove toxins from the body. Soaking in natural mineral hot spring pools provide many of these healing benefits. Also taking a hot bath can be not only relaxing, but also detoxifying and rejuvenating, especially when adding Epson salt, sea salt, mineral salts, hydrogen peroxide, and/or essential oils.
Cold water is stimulating to the body, lowers body temperature and causes temporary constriction of blood vessels. Alternating hot and cold water is used to stimulate circulation and detoxification, and decrease inflammation. Taking a cold shower following a hot shower or bath is recommended to close pores and stimulate circulation. Ice packs are used to help reduce inflammation for acute injuries, such as sprains and strains.
Sitting in a whirlpool with the gentle pressure of the massaging jets, along with the buoyancy of water, relaxes tight muscles and stimulates the production of endorphins. These natural pain killers can help heal and energize the body, decrease inflammation, and strengthen immunity.
The feeling of weightlessness when immersed in water does wonders for the nervous system, allowing the body and mind to relax more easily. It also alleviates a lot of the pressure on joints and muscles and often provides pain relief.
Water is the best medium for removing toxins from the body both internally and externally. Since skin is our largest eliminative organ, any type of hot water therapy that causes sweating will effectively help to remove toxins. The whole purpose of enemas and colon hydro-therapy is to flush out accumulate waste and toxins in the colon. Coffee enemas are known to be one of the most effective treatments for detoxification.
There are many different types of external hydrotherapy used today, including hot or warm baths, sitz baths, detox baths, foot baths, warm and cold body wraps, steam inhalation, steam baths, Turkish baths, whirlpool baths, steam saunas, hot and cold showers, as well as the application of cold packs or hot and cold compresses.
When you think about it, most of us have been experiencing the benefits of hydrotherapy for years and didn’t think about it as such.
For example, have you ever used a vaporizer (steam inhalation) for treatment of a cold or sinus infection?
Have you soaked in a soothing hot bath or whirlpool to relieve tired or achy muscles? Or have you applied an ice pack to a sprained ankle?
Internal hydrotherapy treatments include enemas and colon hydrotherapy, or colonic irrigation.
If you are considering hydrotherapy treatments, consult with your doctor first, especially if you are pregnant, elderly, or have a serious health condition.
Further reading . . .
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