by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac. ~
Water has been worshiped, loved and used since time began. Water and it’s therapeutic values have been used in all ancient civilizations and bathing was considered an important part for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease. It was also valued for its remedial properties.
The ancient Vedic literature in India contains numerous references to the efficacy of water in the treatment of disease. In more recent times, the therapeutic value of water was popularized by the Europeans. They raised water cures to an institutional level and employed it successfully for the treatment of almost every known disease. There are numerous spas in most European countries where therapeutic baths are used as a major healing approach.
Water creates beneficial effects on the human body. It equalizes circulation, boosts muscular tone and assists digestion and nutrition. It also tones up the activity of perspiratory gland and in the process eliminates the damaged cells and toxic matter from the system.
The common water temperature is: cold 50F to 65F, neutral 89.6F to 96.8F and hot 104F to 113F. Above 113F, water loses its therapeutic value and is destructive.
Water treatments can be used in the healing of various diseases in a do-it-yourself manner.
This is a local application using a cloth which has been wrung out in cold water. The cloth should be folded into a strip and dipped in cold water or ice water. The compress is generally applied to the head, neck, chest, abdomen and back. The cold compress is an effective means of controlling inflammatory conditions of the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, intestines, lungs, brain, eyes and pelvic organs. It is also advantageous in cases of fever and heart disease.
This is a hot compress covered in such a manner as to bring warmth. A heating compress consists of three or four folds of linen cloth wrung out in hot water which is then covered completely with dry flannel or blanket to prevent the circulation of air and help accumulation of body heat. It is sometimes applied for several hours. The duration of the application is determined by the extent and location of the surface involved, the nature and thickness of the coverings and the water temperature. After removing the compress, the area should be rubbed with a wet cloth and then dried with a towel. A heating compress can be applied to the throat, chest, abdomen, and joints. A throat compressrelieves sore throat, hoarseness, tonsillitis, laryngitis and laryngitis. An abdominal compress helps those suffering from gastritis, hyperacidity, indigestion, jaundice, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery and other ailments relating to the abdominal organs. The chest compress also known as chest pack, relieves cold, bronchitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, fever, cough and so on, while the joints compress is helpful for inflamed joints, rheumatism, rheumatic fever and sprains.
Also known as rectal irrigation, an enema involves the injection of fluid into the rectum. In nature cure treatment, only lukewarm water is used for cleaning the bowels. The patient is made to lie on his left side extending his left leg and bending the right leg slightly. The enema nozzle, lubricated with oil or Vaseline, is inserted in the rectum. The enema can containing the lukewarm water is then slowly raised and water is allowed to enter into the rectum. Generally, one to two liters of water is injected. The patient may either lie down on his back or walk a little while retaining the water. After five to 10 minutes, the water can be released.
A warm water enema helps to clean the rectum of accumulated fecal matter. This is not only the safest system for cleaning the bowels, but also improves the peristaltic movement of the bowels and thereby relieves constipation. A cold water enema is helpful in inflammatory conditions of the colon, especially in cases of dysentery, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids and fever. A hot water enema is beneficial in relieving irritation due to inflammation of the rectum.
The hip bath is one of the most useful forms of hydrotherapy. As the name suggests, this mode of treatment involves only the hips and the abdominal region below the navel. The tub is filled with water in such a way that it covers the hips and reaches up to the navel when the patient sits in it. Generally, four to six gallons of water are required. Hip bath is given in cold, hot, neutral or alternate temperatures.
**Cold hip bath is a routine treatment in most diseases. The water temperature should be 50F to 65F. The duration of the bath is usually 10 minutes. It relieves constipation, indigestion and helps the eliminative organs to function properly. It is also helpful in uterine problems like irregular menstruation, chronic uterine infections, pelvic inflammation, piles, hepatic congestion, chronic congestion of the prostate gland, seminal weakness, impotency, sterility, uterine and ovarian displacements, dilation of the stomach and colon, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhage of the bladder. The cold hip bath should not be used in acute inflammations of the pelvic and abdominal organs, ovaries and in painful contractions of the bladder, rectum or vagina.
**Hot hip bath helps to relieve painful menstruation, pain in the pelvic organs, painful urination, inflamed rectum or bladder and painful piles. This bath is generally taken for eight to 10 minutes at a water temperature of 104F to 113F. The bath should start at 104F. The temperature should be gradually increased to 113F. This also benefits enlarged prostatic gland, painful contractions or spasm of the bladder, sciatica, neuralgia of the ovaries and bladder. A cold shower bath should be taken immediately after the hot hip bath. Care should be taken to prevent the patient from catching a chill after the bath.
**Neutral hip bath helps to relieve all acute and subacute inflammatory conditions such as acute catarrh of the bladder and urethra and subacute inflammations in the uterus, ovaries and tubes. This bath is generally taken for 20-40 minutes. It also relieves neuralgia of the fallopian tubes or testicles, painful spasms of the vagina and prorates of the anus and vulva. It is also a sedative treatment.
**Alternative hip bath. This is also known as revulsive hip bath. The temperature in the hot tub should be 104F to 113F and in the cold tub 50F to 65F. The patient should alternate between sit in the hot tub for five minutes and then in the cold tub for three minutes. The duration of the bath is generally 10 to 20 minutes. The head and neck should be kept cold with a cold compress. The treatment should end with a dash of cold water to the hips. This bath relieves chronic inflammatory conditions of the pelvic viscera such as ovaritis, cellulitis and various neuralgia of the genito-urinary organs, sciatica and lumbago.
**Immersion bath. This is also known as full bath. It is taken in a bath tub which should be properly fitted with hot and cold water. The bath can be taken at cold, neutral, hot, graduated and alternate temperatures.
HOT FOOT BATHS
In this method, the patient should keep his or her legs in a tub or bucket filled with hot water at a temperature of 104F to 113F. Before taking this bath, a glass of water should be taken and the body should be covered with a blanket so that no heat or vapor escapes from the foot bath. The head should be protected with a cold compress. The duration of the bath is generally from 5 to 20 minutes. The patient should take a cold shower immediately after the bath. The hot foot bath stimulates the involuntary muscles of the uterus, intestines, bladder and other pelvic and abdominal organs. It also relieves sprains and ankle joint pains, headaches caused by cerebral congestion and colds.
COLD FOOT BATH
Three to four inches of cold water at a temperature of 45F to 55F should be placed in a small tub or bucket. The feet should be completely immersed in the water for one to five minutes. A cold foot bath, taken for one or two minutes, relieves cerebral congestion and uterine hemorrhage. It also helps in the treatment of sprains, strains and inflamed bunions when taken for longer periods. It should not be taken in cases of inflammatory conditions of the genito-urinary organs, liver and kidneys.
Steam bath is one of the most important time-tested water treatments which induces perspiration in a most natural way. The patient sit on a stool inside a specially designed cabinet or a steam room. Before entering, the patient should drink one or two glasses of cold water. The duration of the steam bath is generally 10 to 20 minutes or until perspiration takes place. A cold shower should be taken immediately after the bath. Very weak patients, pregnant women, cardiac patients and those suffering from high blood pressure should avoid this bath. If the patient feels uneasy during the steam bath, he or she should be immediately taken out and given a glass of cold water and the face washed with cold water.
The steam bath helps to eliminate matter from the surface of the skin. It also improves circulation of the blood and tissue activity. It relieves rheumatism, gout, and uric acid problems. The steam bath is helpful in all forms of chronic toxemia. It also relieves neuralgia, Chronic nephritis, infections, and migraine.
EPSOM SALT BATH
The immersion bath tub should be filled with about 5-6 gallons of hot water at 104F. Epsom salt should be dissolved in this water. The patient should completely immersing the trunk, thighs and legs for 15 to 20 minutes. The best time to take this bath is just before bed. This is useful in cases of sciatica, lumbago, rheumatism, diabetes, neuritis, cold and catarrh, kidney disorders and other uric acid and skin affections.
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