While hydrotherapy may sound like a foreign and obscure practice, many commonly used household treatments are founded on hydrotherapy principles. Laying a cold towel on your forehead to treat a fever or alleviating muscle or joint pain using a heat pad are two basic forms of hydrotherapy treatments. In the light of Western medicine’s quick fix method, “treating by prescribing”, the movement toward using more and more natural remedies has popularized in the past few years. Hydrotherapy is one method of treatment that utilizes a natural resource, water, as a means to heal the human body.
Hydrotherapy, also commonly called water therapy or physiotherapy, is a form of alternative medicine involving the use of water to revitalize, restore, and maintain health. In most types of hydrotherapy treatments, water is either directly applied to the skin or the body is immerged into hot or cold water. Full bodies can be immerged in bathtubs or pools, or specific parts of the body can be partly immerged. Specifically, naturopathic hydrotherapy uses alternating applications of hot and cold water to increase blood flow and improve circulation.
Hydrotherapy’s main rule of healing is rooted in the role that blood serves to the body. Blood runs to every cell, tissue, and organ in the human system and provides oxygen and nutrients to sustain the cells of the body. In addition, blood is the medium for detoxification, taking harmful toxins from cells and excreting it out through the urine. With application of hot and cold water treatments, the circulation of the blood and the proliferation of blood components is improved, thus making the body more efficient in restoring needed nutrients and oxygen areas of the body that needs healing.
Throughout history hydrotherapy has been universally adopted in many diverse cultures. From the Old Testament to the ancient Greeks, water has been used as a therapeutic agent and thought to have healing powers. In the early 1920s, President D. Roosevelt embraced the ancient practice as a main form of therapy to treat his polio and thus regained worldwide attention to hydrotherapy. Today, hydrotherapy is used in numerous alternative medicine institutions for the treatment of arthritis, depression, joint, muscle, and nerve problems, stress, and sleep disorders.