Water the Elixir of life- How to Use Water as a Natural Healer through Hydrotherapy
The A-Z on the uses and benefits of water
Since the genesis of time, water has been known to be the lifeblood of all forms of life on earth. No living entity can survive without it. With its’ wide array of healing and sustaining qualities, it can aptly be described as the ‘Elixir’ of life! It covers 70% of the earth’s surface, 97% of which is salt water, and the other 3% from remaining fresh water sources. Fresh water sources include ground water, frozen water, desalination, surface water and under river flow. The human body in its entirety comprises 75% pure water; the human brain 85%, and human blood an amazing 92%!
This miracle liquid has a huge array of benefits. Water derived from precipitation is largely used in dams and purified for human consumption. It’s also utilized in the agricultural, industrial and environmental sectors. Water plays a huge role in recreation and sanitation and is vital in households.
Humans cannot function adequately without consuming water. If left a few days without it, the body would simply dehydrate and die. Human blood, which is 92% water, aids in the effective transportation of nutrients and oxygen to cells. Water plays a role in the removal of harmful toxins, regulates body temperature, aids digestion, assists with weight loss and helps keep skin and muscles toned. It serves as a lubricant that protects tissues and organs from trauma, e.g. the spinal chord.
It’s essential for the combat of headaches, joint pain, depression, hypertension, high cholesterol, insomnia, fatigue, cravings, constipation, asthma, allergies and arthritis.
One of the greatest attributes of this miracle liquid is its’ ability to heal. The collective term used to describe healing through water is called Hydrotherapy. According to Dr.Ernst Schneider’s ‘Healthy by Nature, Volume 1’, Hydrotherapy derived its origins as a curative and preventative remedy and was used by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Hittites, Israelites and Greeks in ancient times as well as by the Arabs during the Middle-Ages. History reveals that in the 19th century, the art of healing through hydrotherapy was revitalized by German priest, Sebastian Kneipp. Today there are many forms of hydrotherapy. According to Schneider Hydrotherapy is largely beneficial to the cardiovascular system, the blood, the respiratory tract, the metabolism, the human locomotive system, the nervous system, the abdomen, and the urinary organs. Schneider says hydrotherapy acts on the body comprehensively by:
- Increasing the body’s defensive capacity and its resistance to cold;
- By activating blood circulation;
- By toning the central nervous system;
- By curbing inflammatory processes;
- It regulates the hormonal system;
- It’s effective for cardiovascular complaints and a weak blood flow to the skin;
- Effective during convalescence and is
- Excellent as a therapy during periods of depression and nervous disorders;
- Improves general as well as mental wellbeing and
- Is a great natural stimulant and substitute for those much craved for caffeine fixes
He reminds us that when practicing Hydrotherapy, adequate precautions should be taken, including seeing a doctor before any strenuous hydrotherapy. He categorizes Hydrotherapy into the following:
- Baths by partial or total submersion
- Cold arm baths – regulates heartbeat and blood pressure, combats stress, anorexia nervosa and is highly recommended for diabetics.
- Hot arm baths – used to eliminate congestion, aids with rheumatism, stimulates the production of suprarenal cortisone, aids bronchial asthma, assists angina heart sufferers with restlessness, helps with the reduction of hypertension and aids recuperation after heart failure. It can also be used for genital disorders in women and assists with conditions caused by menopause.
- Cold footbaths – These can be used for the treatment of headaches and migraines, tired feet, constipation, nose bleeds and blood flow in diabetics.
- Hot footbaths – Used for the treatment of respiratory, circulatory, urinary and infectious disorders, headaches, and alterations to joints such as flat feet, ankle pain, high arches and whitlow (inflammation of the toes).
- Cold hipbath- assists with constipation, hemorrhoids, relaxation, kidney functions for the elimination of toxins, the normalization of menstruation and helps prevent a prolapsed uterus.
- Hot hipbaths – Acts as a sedative and anti-inflammatory, combats spasms that causes angina, regulates menstruation and gives effective pain relief for dysmenorrheal or painful menstruation.
- Half-body bathing – These can combat fever and relieve gout
- Cold full baths – Used for metabolic disorders under medical supervision
- Hot full baths- activates metabolism and is a great sedative.
- Steam baths – are very effective in the stimulation of blood flow to the skin.
- Facial steam baths- Great as a beauty treatment for facial skin disorders, the treatment of colds, sinusitis, etc.
- Vapours – Used to treat sinusitis, colds, pharyngitis and bronchitis.
- Other forms of steam baths include foot steam baths, steam hipbaths, full steam baths and ear steam baths which are used to treat inflammation of the ear.
- Jets – These are performed by applying jets of water to the body or by targeting certain parts of the body only.
- Saunas – Used with precaution
- Aids the nervous system, respiratory tract, cardiovascular system, digestive and reproductive system.
- Poultices – These are when clay or plants or hay flower bags are directly and therapeutically applied to the skin.
- Compresses- When wet hot or old cloths are applied to specific body parts. It’s also known as the simplest form of hydrotherapy and can easily be used at home.
- Enemas – Approximately 1 liter of water is introduced via the rectum. Used by the healthy or ill and is largely used as a preventative measure.
- Fomentations – Compresses applied at very high temperatures.
- Wraps – the application of cold or wet cloths to wrap up the body.
- Underwater colonic irrigation – For chronic constipation and intestinal self-intoxication.
- Washes (ablutions) – These form part of Kneipp’s cure. Can be subdivided into:
- Chest washes, lower body washes and lower abdominal washes.
- Thalassotherapy – Derived from the Greek words ‘thalasa’ (sea) and ‘therapeia’ (therapy)
- Used in convalescence and for nervous, circulatory, joint problems, flaccid breasts and for certain skin disorders.
And finally, scientists say that another more modern form of Hydrotherapy, i.e. Ocean Therapy, is fast becoming a tool to heal emotional scars when tuning into the ocean’s cyclical rhythms. Just imagine swimming with the dolphins!
Copyright Melanie Fourie 2011