Hydrotherapy is the name for all therapeutic treatments with water. It is one of the oldest naturopathic treatments, having been first developed by Sabastian Kneipp in the early 1800’s. Hydrotherapy is commonly used to treat a variety of disorders including acute illness, skin conditions, inflammatory disorders, depression, weight loss, and chronic pain. During a hydrotherapy treatment the physician applies water that is either cold, warm, hot, or alternately warm and cold, depending on the therapeutic goal. Typical treatments include soaks, towel applications, wraps, brush massages, or steam saunas. The beneficial effects are based on the application used and the difference in temperature between the body and water that is achieved. This difference in temperature effects the human body in a very positive way: It stimulates blood circulation and detoxification, promotes relaxation, and stimulates the bodies own defenses. Ultimately, hydrotherapy can contribute to an improved immune system and thus milder course of the disease progression.
Based on your health goals, your doctor can determine if, and which type of, hydrotherapy is right for you. One type of hydrotherapy treatment called “constitutional hydrotherapy” incorporates the use of a sine wave machine, also known as a muscle stimulator. The sine wave pads are placed on reflex points along the spine that influence the organs of digestion and assimilation, increasing their activity, improving digestion and elimination. Additionally, the sine wave pads are placed on the abdomen in order to encourage white blood cell circulation and regulation of the digestive rhythm, or peristalsis. A constitutional hydrotherapy session will take about 1 hour and most patients find these sessions very relaxing and will fall asleep during them.