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Hydrotherapy/ Hydropathy

Hydropathy, also known as hydrotherapy, includes use of hot and cold water to treat various diseases. The therapy exploits the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli, the pressure exerted by the water and the sensation this generates. The patient is either made to consume the water or take a bath in it. This alternative healing therapy has been used since ancient times to treat various illnesses and conditions.

Benefits of hydropathy
Hydropathy is mainly a hot and cold water therapy, which also uses invigorating and healing pressure of water upon the body. The various types of therapies, which are a party of hydropathy, possess the capability of detoxifying the body by eliminating internal wastes and toxins, thus relieving the body of ailments. The benefits of include loosening of tensed muscles and soothing pains. It also hydrates the cells, thus improving skin and muscle tone. Hydropathy not only increases metabolic rate and digestion but also boosts the functioning of the immune system, making the body stronger to fight and overcome diseases. The alternative healing therapy also stimulates blood supply, improving the functioning of internal organs.
Some health issues that can be effectively cured through hydropathy include:

  • Acne
  • Stomach problems
  • Colds
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Arthritis
  • Joint problems
  • Muscle and nerve problems

Apart from curing ailments, hydropathy is also used for beauty treatments, relaxation and rejuvenation, and in effective pain relief.

Hydropathy treatments and common techniques
Hydropathy emphasizes on the importance of water in our body, and the patient is advised to drink adequate amount of pure and clean water. It is believed that our body’s water requirement increases as we grow older. During the day a lot of water is lost from our body so it is essential to drink the required amount of water to keep the body hydrated; this in turn also helps in keeping the skin and kidneys healthy. Apart from consuming of water hydropathy also uses other therapies that require external use of water in order to cure various conditions and diseases. These treatments include:

Cold rubbing
Cold rubbing is a hydropathy technique used to improve blood circulation and cure the body of infections of the respiratory system. The treatment includes soaking a linen cloth in cold water and briskly rubbing the body with the cloth. It provides an invigorating experience and helps to tone up the body.

Douching includes applying a current of water directed against or into a body part or cavity (as the vagina). The water gently envelops the skin. After the therapy is complete, the excess water is stroked off and the patient is advised to exercise.

Sauna and steam baths
Sauna and steam bath are extremely beneficial. One of the best stress busting solutions in hydropathy, it provides a very relaxing experience and boosts mental health. In this technique the heat provided by water acts on the body and helps to get rid of toxins, thus strengthening the immune system, promoting hormone production and improving respiration.

Full and partial immersion baths
Baths with hot, cold, warm, and raising temperature water are given to cure various illnesses. These baths may also be given to specific body parts like feet, legs, arms, etc. Apart from these, depending upon the ailment, various types of cold-hot and raising temperature sitz baths are also advised to patients.

Hydropathy treatment includes the use of moist wraps to heal local inflammations and fever. Moist linens are wrapped around the affected part of the body, and overlapped by a dry cloth. The patient is then wrapped in a blanket for about 45-60 mins to induce sweating; this helps to get rid of waste and toxins. Sometimes heat is also provided externally or by making the person to drink warm tea.

A hydropathy practitioner uses cold packs or hot packs depending on the ailment. Hot packs, made of either cloth soaked in hot infusion or decoctions of herbs, are wrapped around the body. These packs may also be covered by mud packs or hot mustard flour. A cool wrap is used in a cold pack and crushed ice is also applied to provide cooling. While hot packs are useful in ailments like arthrosis, renal disease or cystitis, cold packs can cure pleurisy, inflammatory arthropathies, sprains, and strains.

Herbal baths
Herbal baths include use of various herbs in bath water. These herbs have curative powers. These herbal baths are prepared in various different styles and combination to suit the patient. Herbs like chamomile, lavender, passion flower, etc. are used to induce healing through their scent and soothing properties. Herbal baths can also be combined with music therapy and ambient lighting to eliminate stress related disorders.

Some precautions and risks involved:

  • Diabetics should not only avoid hot applications on feet and legs but also full body wrap treatments.
  • Cold applications should be avoided by patients suffering from ‘Raynaud’s disease’
  • Hot saunas and hot immersion baths should be avoided by people with multiple sclerosis and diabetes
  • People prone to rectal irritation or bladder irritation should not take cold foot baths.
  • Cold foot baths should also be avoided by those suffering from rheumatism in toes or ankles, sciatica, and pelvic inflammation.
  • Young children and the elderly stand the risk of exhaustion due to too much heat. Hence, lengthy full body hot treatments, immersion baths, and saunas are not advisable for them.
  • Pregnant women and people suffering from heart conditions should take hydrotherapy treatment under strict supervision of an experienced hydropathy practitioner.

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