Hydrotherapy (or “water cure”) refers to the therapeutic use of water to stimulate the body’s healing force. Many beneficial changes take place in the body in response to warm or cold water hydrotherapy. These changes depend upon the purpose of treatment, areas of the body to which hydrotherapy is applied, and temperature of the water used. For example, hydrotherapy can be immersion of the whole body (except the head) or more local applications to body parts like the legs, feet, or core.
So how does hydrotherapy reduce stress? For reducing activation of the adrenal glands and the stress-response system, the beneficial effects of hydrotherapy can include:
- Lowering heart rate and blood pressure
- Increasing circulation of antioxidants in the blood
- Reducing level of free radicals
- Increasing production of anti-inflammatory agents in the body
- Reducing pain, spasm, or tension
- Feeling relief from depressed or anxious emotions
- Hydrotherapy may also help to detoxify metals, pesticides and herbicides, and other toxic buildup from improper diet and lifestyle.
Can you do hydrotherapy on your own?
While hydrotherapy can be done by yourself at home with specialized equipment, for maximum benefit it should be performed by a knowledgeable practitioner. The process can be as simple as alternating applications of hot, wet towels with layers of blankets, and application of cold wet towels.
The application of warmth dilates blood vessels and allows blood to flow to the area. The cold application constricts the blood vessels.
Due to the elasticity in the blood vessels, rebound vasodilation (dilation of the blood vessels) occurs. The alternating hot and cold applications create a pumping action in the vessels, improving blood flow and lymphatic movement/drainage. This is often done around the abdomen and chest. The duration and frequency of alternating temperatures is determined by your practitioner.
Other forms of hydrotherapy can easily be utilized at home on different areas of the body to successfully treat various ailments. These forms include contrast hydrotherapy, full body baths, foot baths, sitz baths, steam inhalations, hot compresses, saunas and compresses, poultices, and hot or cold packs. (To learn more about the numerous different kinds of hydrotherapy, be sure to check out my super thorough blog on the topic.)
If you are interested in constitutional hydrotherapy to facilitate relief from adrenal health conditions, speak to your health practitioner.