Hydrotherapy Types, Benefits and Side Effects

What is Hydrotherapy?

What is hydrotherapy? For hydrotherapy is a set of alternative medicine practices to treat particular ailments through the ‘use of’ water. Hydropathy, in particular, uses the thermal, mechanical, and chemical stimuli that water induces on the human body.


Hydrotherapy allows benefits for everyone, but in particular, depending on the applied therapy is recommended to treat hemorrhoids, swelling and inflammation, boils, burns, muscle fatigue, post-operative pain, chest congestion, anxiety, stress, overweight, chronic gastro-enteric catarrhs, congestive states of the liver, spleen, colon and sexual impotence.

History of Hydrotherapy

The therapeutic use of water has a long history. The history of hydrotherapy begins with the Egyptian doctors, but it is the Greeks who conceive the culture of water for therapeutic purposes.

In Pakistan, the remains of an ancient bath were unearthed, and these remains were discovered in BC. It belongs to 4500 years ago. Public saunas were an essential part of ancient Roman culture. It has been documented since the first centuries that steam, bath, and aromatic massages were used to protect health. Roman doctors Galen and Celsus wrote that they treat patients with hot and cold showers. By the 17th and 18th centuries, public bathrooms became very popular among the public in Europe. Public baths were first made in the 1700s in America.

In the early 19th century, Bavarian priest Sebastien Kneipp, who was the advocate of water therapy, began to heal the members of the church community with water therapy when he treated his tuberculosis disease in the same way.

Kneipp has written extensively on this subject and has opened a series of hydrotherapy clinics known as Kneipp clinics that are still in service today. At the same time, Vincenz Priessnitz in Austria treated his patients with a cold spring water bath, compress, and showers. Priessnitz also opened a spa center treating 1,500 patients in its first year. This center has also become a model for doctors and other specialists who want to learn hydrotherapy technologies.

Types of Hydrotherapy

Common types of hydrotherapy include:

1. Vortex Water, Jacuzzis, and Hot Water Pool

These pools use to spray water to massage the body. These pools are usually used by physiotherapists to help injured patients recover muscle strength and relieve joint and muscle pain. Some midwives and obstetricians also confirm the use of hot water pools to relieve birth pain.

2. Pools and Hubbard Tanks

Physiotherapists and rehabilitation specialists can recommend underwater pool exercises as a low-impact method to restore muscle strength in people who are injured. Besides, the buoyancy generated during the immersion method helps to relieve pain related to health conditions such as arthritis. Arthritis Foundation has planned a series of Aquatic Program exercises that have been shown to improve isometric strength and range of motion in osteoporosis patients.

3. Bathrooms

Warm baths are recommended to reduce high fever. Showers are one of the oldest types of relaxation therapy. Aromatherapy specialists often recommend adding essential oils such as lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to warm or warm baths to provide relief and reduce stress. Adding British salt (magnesium sulfate) and Dead Sea salt to the tub offers comfort and reduces the pain of rheumatism and arthritis.

4. Showers

Showers are often recommended to stimulate circulation. Water jets in the shower head are also used to massage aching muscles. Also, shower hydrotherapy is more preferred in the treatment of patients with burns compared to immersion hydropathy.

5. Moisture Compress

Cold and moisture compresses can reduce swelling and inflammation caused by injuries. These compresses can also be used to reduce fever and relieve headaches. Warm and warm compresses are beneficial for muscle aches and abscesses.

6. Steam Treatments And Saunas

Steam rooms and saunas are recommended to open skin pores and purify the body from toxins. Vapor inhalation is recommended for the treatment of respiratory infections. Adding herbs to the steam baths increases the therapeutic value of the bathroom.

7. Internal Hydrotherapy

To completely clean the intestines with colon irritation, fluid is applied inside the rectum with a needle. Washing with sterile water is another type of internal hydrotherapy.

With this therapy, the vagina is washed with clean water. Medicines or other substances may be present in the water. Washing the vagina with sterile water can be done by the person himself. Vagina cleaning kits are sold in most pharmacies. Advocates of this therapy say that therapy is right for some digestive problems.

Benefits and contraindications

There are many therapeutic benefits of water. Coldwater reduces inflammation and congestion by narrowing the blood vessels. By the alternating cold and hot water, blood circulation is stimulated. Hot water is able to reduce muscle tension and increase sweating, allowing toxins to explode.

Hydrotherapy is a specific form of treatment, and for this reason, not all subjects can be subjected to it. In fact, hydropathy, in some applications, is not recommended for heart patients and for those suffering from high blood pressure. Hydrotherapy is also not recommended for children up to two years of age, mental patients, and pregnant women. The same applies to pulmonary tuberculosis and the elderly with arteriosclerosis.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy can be very useful in the treatment of different types of soft tissue and bone injury, as well as neuromuscular conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
Benefits of hydrotherapy include:

1. Muscle Relaxation

In the hydrotherapy pool, there are water taps so that the water always flows. Water taps give a sensation like a massage so that tense muscles can feel relaxed and fresh.

In addition, thanks to hydrotherapy, various body tissues that are damaged can slowly return to normal. One of them is a joint injury; thanks to hydrotherapy, the injured joint can heal again.

2. Maintain Immunity

With this method, blood circulation will usually be smooth so that the process of formation of both red and white blood cells occurs very well. Of course, if the production of white blood cells is good, then the immune system can work well. Because as we know if white blood cells are very meritorious for the body with its benefits to fight bacteria and viruses. Therefore, if white blood cells can be produced properly, the body will remain fit.

3. Stress Relievers

Hydrotherapy can relieve stress for anyone because the flow of water in a hydrotherapy pool can reduce blood pressure due to feeling massage. When blood pressure drops, the level of endorphins increases. This hormone is a hormone of happiness that can relieve stress and refresh the moment brain due to various problems.

4. Facilitating Blood Circulation

It has been mentioned previously in this article that hydrotherapy is very effective for launching the circulatory system. That is caused by the warm water contained in the pool that can calm blood vessels, and blood circulation becomes more effective or smooth. Of course, the body will be refreshed and feel fit.

5. Toxic Release

By doing hydrotherapy, actually, the body can remove toxins in the body or often refer to as detoxification. This is caused when soaking in warm water; the immune system is able to be activated so that the detoxification process of the body goes well, and the body feels refreshed.

Others Benefits include:

  • Pain relief
  • Reduction in muscle spasm
  • Re-education of paralyzed muscles
  • Strengthening of weak muscles

How Hydrotherapy works?

Among the different techniques used by the hydrotherapy are sponging and compresses, showers, hot or cold baths, vapors, saunas, ice massages, and forms of therapy that provide support for other therapies in progress.

Nerves help the sensation of the skin deeper into the body, and it is then vital in stimulating the immune system, improving circulation and digestion, influencing the production of stress hormones, lessening the body`s sensitivity to pain, and encouraging the flow of blood.

If an individual is experiencing anxiety or tense muscles, heat is recommended in the shower or bath. For stressed out and tired feeling, it is recommended to take a warm shower or bath followed by a short cold shower to help stimulate the body and mind.

Pain or stress may cause chemical changes in the body (pulse rate, blood pressure, etc.); hydrotherapy can reduce these symptoms by relieving and relaxing the swollen joints and slowing down the stress reaction. This helps to deal with the pain easily.

Curiosities About Hydropathy

In 1849, Kneipp fell ill with tuberculosis. Finding no benefit in the care of the time, he experimented with Hahn’s theory of cold water properties. He plunged completely naked into the Danube and immediately dressed, then ran home to counter the cooling. After six months of treatment, tuberculosis was eradicated.

Side Effects of Hydrotherapy

It is possible to withstand most types of hydrotherapy. However, there are side effects of hydrotherapy, which include the risk of an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) in some patients using essential oils and herbs in bath waters. These individuals can test whether they have developed an allergic reaction to the plants using a skin patch test (for example, by applying a small number of watered plants to the inside of the elbow and by observing the rash and irritation that may occur in this area).

People who have an allergic reaction to essential oils should not use these oils and consult their healthcare provider for more information. The most severe side effects of hydrotherapy are overheating. This situation occurs when the person spends a lot of time in the hot pool or jacuzzi. However, the risk is minimal when these therapies are performed under supervision.

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