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Alternative & Holistic Therapies


"Warm water increases blood flow to joints, plus the heat increases the flexibility of the joints, ... And because of buoyancy, there is less force on the joint, so that one can exercise without pain". John Klippel, president of the Arthritis Foundation

The History of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy, in various forms, has been around for centuries. One of the first instructional books about hydrotherapy was written in 1697 by an English physician named John Floyer. Since that time, numerous medical practitioners have become renowned for using methods of hydrotherapy to cure all kinds of ailments, some of them ones which had been previously thought incurable.

In the early 20th century, hydrotherapy became a popular treatment being used by naturopathic physicians. Two of the most famous practitioners of that era were Henry Lindlahr and Benedict Lust. These two combined hydrotherapy with other holistic treatments such as homeopathy and herbal medicine and helped treat thousands of people.

How Hydrotherapy Works

Hydrotherapy, formerly known as hydropathy, involves the use of water at different temperatures to relieve pain and treat illnesses. Over the past decades the term hydrotherapy has become synonymous with the words ‘water cure.’ There are a number of different forms of hydrotherapy, each designed to be used for specific health issues and cures. These include:

Nasal Lavage

This particular treatment involves the use of tepid filtered water or water mixed with a little sea salt poured into a syringe or neti pot and used to rinse out the nasal passages. This is extremely useful for flushing bacteria and toxins from the nasal cavities and sinuses. Nasal lavage can be used to treat sinus and nasal irritation, seasonal allergies and hay fever.

Hot/Cold Sinus Compress

This treatment uses two face towels, one bowl of hot water and one bowl of cold water. Each towel is soaked in a bowl of water. Each towel is then wrung out and placed alternately across the nasal and sinus area of the face for around thirty seconds each. This treatment can be performed morning and evening if you are suffering from irritated nasal passages or sinuses and can also be used in conjunction with nasal lavage. This method helps to drain the sinuses, reducing pressure and alleviating pain and tenderness.

Hot/Cold Sitz Bath

This form of hydrotherapy involves two immersion baths in which the water can cover the buttocks and hips with the patient sitting down. One of the baths should contain hot water about 106-110 degrees Fahrenheit. The other should contain cold water at around 55 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  The patient alternates between sitting in the hot bath for around three minutes and then in the cold bath for around thirty seconds. This method of hydrotherapy is particularly useful for ailments such as vaginal infections, pelvic inflammatory diseases, hemorrhoids, constipations, prostate problems, chronic urinary tract infections and pelvic congestion.

Constitutional Hydrotherapy

This is a special hydrotherapy technique that can be used for the treatment of a broad range of acute conditions including AIDS, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, heart disease, digestive disorders and detoxification. For this treatment the patient lies down and his bare back, chest and abdomen are covered with two thicknesses of towel that have been soaked in hot water then wrung out (the temperature must be bearable to the touch). The towels are left in place for around five minutes then removed and replaced with towels wrung out in cold water for ten minutes. The towels are only removed once they have become warm. The treatment is repeated on the front and back of the body and all-in-all should take around 30 minutes.

Colonic Irrigation

Colonic irrigation, also known as colonic hydrotherapy is a natural way of cleansing and detoxing the colon. It can prevent constipation, irritable bowel disorders, cancer and improve general health. For a colonic irrigation a qualified practitioner will usually use a water enema to flush out the lower gastrointestinal tracts. During the procedure large amounts of water will be flushed through the colon by means of a tube inserted into the rectum.

The Functions of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy has been used to treat a broad range of ailments including:

  • Inflammation of the joints and muscles
  • Management of chronic pain
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor circulation
  • Rehabilitation after injuries
  • Relief of trauma
  • Improvement of sugar levels for people with diabetes
  • Reduction of high blood pressure
  • Relief of insomnia
  • Reduction of symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism
  • Relief from the discomfort of fibromyalgia
  • Reduction of symptoms for people with multiple sclerosis

Hydrotherapy Precautions

  • People who suffer from or have suffered from frostbite, nerve damage or poor sensitivity of the skin should only take a course of hydrotherapy treatment under the advice and close observation of a fully trained practitioner.
  • If you are using hot tubs or hydrotherapy units in your home, you should always ensure that they are treated and cleaned on a regular basis as they are breeding grounds for bacteria.
  • Colonic irrigation should only be performed by a qualified health care practitioner.


Can hydrotherapy be painful?

Hydrotherapy should never be painful. Its aim is to relax and relieve pains and tension. 

Can hydrotherapy worsen a condition?

Hydrotherapy is a gentle, non-invasive practice that relaxes the whole body and promotes total wellness. On rare occasions, due to the release of toxins, it may result in symptoms such as headaches, perspiration and mild nausea. These symptoms are temporary and not serious.  

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