Water has unique therapeutic properties. It brings peace to human minds, heals bodies and quenches thirst. Many people gain strength by listening to the sound of the waves of the sea or contemplating the phenomena of ebb and flow. The sight of a majestic waterfall can inspire a sense of awe. A weary mind is relieved when the gaze of its owner sees the spray of a fountain or the calm flow of a stream. A warm shower or a soak in a Jacuzzi is relaxing, while a cold shower is invigorating. Ten minutes spent in the pool can fill you with a sense of well-being and relieve anxiety. Liquid water, along with its other forms (ice and steam), is used to relieve pain, relieve anxiety, treat disorders, etc. The therapeutic use of water has a long history. Baths were known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Hippocrates prescribed bathing in spring water as a medicine. The Roman physicians Celsus and Galen treated their patients with contrast showers. The Islamic bath (hamman) was used for purification, relaxation and enjoyment. The Bavarian monk Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821–1897) played a major role in popularizing the therapeutic use of water in the nineteenth century. In Austria, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Vincent Priesnitz (1790-1851) became an international celebrity for his hydrotherapy system. Water therapy was also popular at Battle Creek during the time of John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943). Hydrotherapy retains its popularity today. Mineral springs are used to treat migraines, muscle injuries, and fever. Hot water is relaxing, while cold water is stimulating. The greater the temperature contrast, the more powerful the effect. Alternating cold and hot water can stimulate the circulatory system and improve immune function. To achieve the result, three minutes of a hot shower or douche is enough, followed by 20-30 seconds of a cold shower. Water therapy includes rubbing, compresses, wet wraps, foot baths, pool and shower. Effective hydrotherapy takes time and knowledge.
Typically, cold water is used to reduce inflammation. Hydrotherapy of cancer patients contributes to the fact that the number of leukocytes in their body increases. Cold water treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease reduces the frequency of infections, increases the number of white blood cells and improves well-being. Water therapy is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia syndrome and frostbite. Nasal saline infusions can relieve the symptoms of acute sinusitis. For patients with chronic heart failure, warm baths or a moderate-temperature sauna help improve heart function. Hydrotherapy is beneficial for children suffering from asthmatic bronchitis. Warm water relieves colon spasms. Ice packs can be used to treat back pain, sprains, knee injuries, and hemorrhoids. The steam is often used in conjunction with volatile oils that are inhaled in the treatment of respiratory ailments. Hydrotherapy allows you to quickly recover after exercise. Showering and swimming in the pool for thirty minutes can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and fatigue more effectively than half an hour of sleep. Baths with herbal extracts can be especially beneficial for stressed and tired people.
There are several ways to prepare herbal baths. 1. Boil half a cup of herbs in one quart (1,14 L) of water in a covered saucepan for fifteen minutes. While the herbs are boiling, take a short shower to cleanse the body, then fill the tub with hot or lukewarm water. One should pour the liquid into the bath, then wrap the herbs in a terry cloth and soak in the bath for at least twenty minutes, and then rub the body with this bundle. 2. Substitute half a cup of herbs under running water, preferably hot. You can cover the drain with a thin mesh cloth to keep the herbs from clogging the pipes. Soak in the bath for twenty to thirty minutes. 3. Fill a thin cloth bag with half a cup of herbs, place it in the bath water, or tie it to a faucet so that hot water flows through the herb to fill the tub. Again, soak for twenty to thirty minutes. Certain herbs are especially effective. For example, you can take a handful of herbs such as valerian, lavender, linden, chamomile, hops, and burdock root and add them to your bath following one of the above patterns. Soak for thirty minutes. Another combination of herbs might include hops, lime, valerian, chamomile, yarrow, and passion flower. You can use one of the recipes above, or boil the herbs in a quart (1,14 liters) of water, then drink half a cup of the liquid (you can add lemon and honey, if desired) and pour the rest into the bath. In the process of soaking herbs in the bath, you can read, meditate, listen to soothing music or just sit silently, concentrating on self-relaxation. In general, for hydrotherapy to be effective, the following general advice should be followed. In order to relieve stress, you can resort to a neutral bath (at a temperature of 33-34 degrees Celsius), the temperature of which is close to that of the skin. Water with a temperature of 38-41 degrees is suitable for relaxing tense muscles and reducing pain in the spine. (Temperatures above 41 degrees are not recommended as they can raise body temperature too quickly, creating artificial heat.) You can take a cold shower immediately after the bath. It will cause increased blood circulation and a surge of energy. (A similar effect is produced by alternating cold and hot showers – three minutes of cold showers for thirty seconds of hot showers, etc.) Do not stay in the shower for more than 15-20 minutes, especially if you have high blood pressure or diseases of the cardiovascular system. Evening is the best time for water procedures. People who take a bath or shower in the evening fall asleep better and enjoy deeper sleep.