Hydrotherapy (Jal chikitsa), a form of Naturoathic Medicine is referred to as a water cure. It is a branch of Nature cure that uses water for pain relief and treatment. Naturopathic hydrotherapy makes use of water to treat disorders and stimulate blood circulation at different temperatures, forms, and pressure with an adjuvant to relieve the ailments of the body. As a major part of our body is made up of water it can be considered a main component of Naturopathy. Hence, can help preserve health, soothe inner congestion and also cure several diseases.
Effects of Water Therapy & What is Hydrotherapy used to treat?
Water therapy, a form of physical therapy is used as a cleansing agent to reduce infections due to contamination. Hydropathy is also widely used for burn treatment. The doctors aid the healing process of a burn injury using warm running water. The main objective of Jal chikitsa therapy is to enhance blood circulation, improve digestion and blood flow, induce healing using alternating applications of hot and cold water to specific areas of the body.
- Bathing properly with clean cold water is an excellent form of Hydrotherapy as it opens up all pores of the skin, infuses lightness and smartness to the body, activates all systems and muscles of the body as well as enhances the blood circulation
- It is the most adaptable medium for producing the thermal and mechanical effects that can be implemented to a confined zone or the entire body surface to induce healing.
- It capably absorbs as well as gives out heat with great aptness and hence, can be used for extracting heat from the body or transferring heat to it. The objective is not to take away or reduce the bodily heat, but to enhance the stamina to produce more heat than what is lost for which cold water is mainly used.
- Drinking water benefits considerably in the removal of uric acid, urea, salts, excessive sugar, and countless blood and food chemicals that are waste products.
- It’s used internally in the form of Enema being a universal solvent.
- Jal chikitsa treatment is also used on patients suffering with Multiple Sclerosis and musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or spinal cord injuries.
- It is also practiced on patients suffering from burns, spasticity, stroke or paralysis under supervision of doctors.
There are many potential health benefits of Hydrotherapy in Naturopathy:
- Hydrotherapy is an economical, effective & pleasant method of treating long-lasting pain.
- Water is neither irritable nor toxic; hence therapy is safe and hydrates body cells while improving skin and muscle tone
- Water is a universal solvent thus all additives blend with it easily and stimulates blood supply to various organs.
- Hydropathy treatment helps to loosen tense and tight muscles, ease joint pain encouraging relaxation.
- Rehabilitates injured muscles or joints
- Encourages detoxification and helps in cleansing of the body
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Boosts the immune system
Different Types of Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is usually executed at chikitsa clinic, spas and even at home. Common types include:
- Watsu: An aquatic massage rendered by a therapist using massage techniques as you float conveniently in a warm water pool.
- Sitz bath: A sitz bath is suggested for patients with hemorrhoids, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and menstruation problems. This form of treatment involves two adjacent tubs of water, one warm and one cool. You sit in one tub with your feet in the other one and then take turns.
- Warm water baths: Warm water baths involve soaking in warm water for about 30 minutes or as per requirement. Adding Epsom salts, mineral mud, aromatherapy oils, ginger, moor mud, and dead sea salts enhances the therapeutic results of the therapy.
- Steam bath or Turkish bath: Steam rooms are packed with warm, humid aid and steam that stimulates the body to discharge impurities.
- Sauna: Sauna bathing is a manner of shifts between hot and cool & means to be relaxing. So after the last round in the sauna, one should take a cool shower to close the pores in the skin and dress up only once the body stops sweating. The dry, warm air encourages sweating.
- Compresses: Towels drenched in warm and/or cool water are placed on specific areas on the body. Cool compresses lessen redness and swelling, while warm compresses boost blood flow and relax tense and inflamed muscles.
- Ice packs: These are used for calming inflammation and easing pain in case of bruises and sprains.
- Wraps: The patient is made to lie down and then cold, wet flannel sheets are wrapped around the person’s body topped up with dry towels and blankets. The body warms up in response and dries the wet sheets. It’s practiced to treat colds, skin disorders, and muscle pain.
- Contrast hydrotherapy: After a shower, the temperature needs to be turned down to a bearable level (it shouldn’t be icy cold). Turn the water off after 30 seconds (some people shuffle between warm and cool water for up to three cycles, always finishing with cool water).
- Warming socks: Take a pair of wet cotton socks, wet them completely, twist them out and then put them on your feet. Now put a dry pair of wool socks over them and go to bed. Take them off in the morning. The cold, wet socks are said to enhance circulation in the body and help relieve upper body congestion.
- Hot fomentation: Hot compresses or hot water bottles may be used to treat severe conditions such as chest colds and coughs. It not only alleviates symptoms but also decreases the length of the illness.
- Hydrotherapy pool exercises: Exercising in a warm-water pool permits to exercise without battling gravity and grants gentle resistance, thus is deemed effective for back pain, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Hydrotherapy exercises tend to be slow and controlled as compared to water aerobics.
- Colon Hydrotherapy: This form of hydropathy uses clean filtered water under gentle pressure (without pain) to wash out or detoxify the colon of stagnated fecal materials. It is the method of cleansing and flushing out the colon or large intestine and can give major relief to gastrointestinal health conditioned patients. The treatment is similar to an enema but is more extensive.
– Hydrotherapy should never be carried out immediately after food.
– Avoid hot water therapies for diabetic patients.
– Extreme contrasts of temperatures should not be used for people having poor circulation & low energy levels.
– Therapy should be avoided if the skin is delicate or sensitive.
– Never go in for more than one therapy at a time or on the same day.
– Except for a few common ones, hydrotherapy should be followed at a chikitsa clinic.
Note: It is recommended to discuss your physical condition and medical history with your doctor before joining hydrotherapy sessions.
1) Cold water causes superficial blood vessels to constrict, moving blood flow away from the surface of the body to organs.
2) Hot water causes superficial blood vessels to dilate, activating sweat glands, and removing waste from body tissues.
3) Alternating hot and cold water is thought to decrease inflammation and stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage.