Earth is a water planet, bestowed with a blue-green vastness of liquid life. Our bodies are 70 percent water - we left the amniotic support of the sea by learning to contain it within our skin.
Humans can survive for weeks without food. Without water, we perish within days or even hours in an arid desert climate.
For thousands of years water has been used to treat disease and trauma. In the 19th and 20th centuries, physicians combined these ancient therapies with modern scientific research. At his mountain sanitarium, Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1852) championed the European rediscovery of water’s healing properties. In the United States, John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., (1852-1945) was a major proponent of water cures. His Battle Creek Sanitarium combined water treatments with sine-wave, massage and dietary therapies. His method of pressing whole grains into “flakes” survives today in the Kellogg cereal industry. Kellogg kept meticulous records and conducted scientific research in his sanitarium. The data gathered became the foundation for Rational Hydrotherapy (F.A. David, 1901), still the definitive textbook on the subject.
Hydrotherapy involves the use of hot and cold water in specific treatments to stimulate the immune system and alter blood circulation to particular areas of the body. Outlined below are six specific hydrotherapy treatments that can be used to treat a wide range of conditions.
General Caution: Diabetic patients must be careful with hot applications to the feet. Most diabetics have reduced nerve sensation in the feet and are more likely to burn the skin by accident. This also applies to anyone with compromised circulation in the extremities (e.g., Raynaud’s Syndrome). Have someone else test the water OR apply a large fomentation (towels wrung out in very warm water) to the groin area.
Constitutional Hydrotherapy Treatment
When not to apply this treatment: in acute cases of asthma or low body temperature (below 97°F oral temperature, unless this is your “normal” temperature). Be careful to avoid drafts or chills during the treatment. Apply a hot water bottle to the feet and add more blankets if you feel chilly.