Last week, whilst attending the national Australian Naturopathic Summit, I was lucky enough to hear about the ages old practice of Hydrotherapy. I learned that this was a practice that dates back to the 1700’s, and was an integral part of Naturopathy in the early 1900’s. Today, in the USA and parts of Europe, it is a very popular therapy.
What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy uses different temperatures of water on particular parts of the body to achieve a therapeutic outcome. Water has a high conductive capacity and stimulates various organs to promote wellness.
This was something that I definitely hadn’t heard of in my undergraduate training! I discovered that the main aim of these applications is to train the nervous system to promote parasympathetic activity. (That means a more relaxed state, the opposite of “fight or flight”.) Compresses, wraps, and other methods are used promote movement of blood to targeted areas of the body. Blood is drawn to a particular organ or area by adding warmth, to improve delivery of oxygen and nutrients. By adding cold, the circulation is pulled away from an organ that may have congested blood flow.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy doesn’t target any particular health condition; instead it focuses on stimulating organs to promote overall wellness. However, here are some pleasant outcomes you may experience.
Hydrotherapy aims to:
- Promote optimal digestive function
- Encourage detoxification
- Improve effectiveness of the immune system
- Relieve sinus pain or congestion
- Assists deeper sleep cycles
- Relieve pain and reduce muscle stiffness
- Reduce cortisol (stress hormone) production promoting a more relaxed state
DIY Hydrotherapy Treatments
To achieve the best from Hydrotherapy treatments, a clean diet, adequate hydration, rest, exercise and good sleep are needed.
Have you ever noticed that you have a fabulous night’s sleep after having a sauna? The over heating of the body promotes dilation of the blood vessels, then afterwards, a quick blast or dip in cold water stimulates the lymphatics. A 2018 systematic review reported that sauna therapy can improve athletic performance, cardiovascular function, assisted detoxification through sweating and improve immune function. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/). Next time you are at the local swim centre or gym, try sitting for short periods in the sauna. Follow it up with a quick cooling shower. Your body will be very grateful!
Cold water blast:
You can do this by adding a quick blast of cold water at the end of your daily shower, or by jumping into the ocean. At first, your body gets a shock and attempts to retain core heat at the centre of the body. Heart rate and blood pressure quickly rise initially, but after a minute or so, these start to reduce as the body adapts to its new conditions. If you surf or swim regularly, you are receiving wonderful benefits.
Have a warm shower before bed. Next, submerge a pair of thin socks in cold water. Wring them out and wear them to bed. Add a pair of thicker socks over the top. The feet will warm the thin socks and they will be dry by the morning. This treatment is used for infected ears, sinus pain or congestion, sore throats or headaches.
There are certain conditions that should avoid particular hydrotherapy applications, such as Raynauds disease (avoid cold applications) and kidney or bladder conditions. If you would like to learn how hydrotherapy might help you, contact me at www.torquayholistic.com.au.
Yours in Health,