Postpartum Blues

    There is no doubt about it – water has a healing quality that restores balance to our souls.

    Besides the effect that water can have on our emotional state, therapists also believe it can influence our physical well-being.

    Whenever I feel blue, my mother always says, “Take a nice, hot bath, and you will feel better.” Although it’s not always that simple, a bath, whether hot in winter or cold in summer, revives and refreshes our inner beings.


    Hydrotherapy (water cure), sometimes referred to as hydropathy, is the treatment of health-related problems with water – with a lot of pressure or none, with hot or cold water, or with a combination of both. It includes a variety of treatments such as saunas, steam baths, hot and cold water compresses, foot baths, body wraps, mud packs, water jet spas, and even a good old scrub at a Turkish bath!

    Hydrotherapy is far more than just a divine treat for a tired body. Professional hydrotherapists use it to treat conditions such as bronchitis, fibromyalgia, muscular weakness, digestive problems, and more.


    The use of hydrotherapy dates back to as early as 2400 BC. Hydrotherapy and hydrothermal therapy (using various temperatures of water) were used by ancient cultures such as those of Rome, Greece, Egypt, China, and Japan. Hippocrates (460 – 375 BC), the father of medicine, who had an excellent understanding of the physiological properties of water, believed in its use, both hot and cold, for the treatment of fever, ulcers, hemorrhage, and other conditions. Water therapy is certainly not something new.

    After wide use of water therapy by ancient cultures, the Middle Ages were marked by a quiet stretch for this method of healing. In the 1800s, however, its use was re-popularized through research done by Vincent Priessnitz in Austria and a Bavarian monk, Father Sebastian Kneipp. Today, more and more people are turning to hydrotherapy as a natural and non-toxic way of treating illness.


    If you’re someone who calls alternative medicine “airy-fairy,” it will probably be hard to believe that water can heal an ailment. Well, here is how it works – and it makes a lot of sense (and if the father of medicine, Hippocrates, believed it, you too should consider its value!).

    Applications of hot and cold water, or massaging the body or a specific area of the body with water, regulate and improve the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid. By enhancing the blood and lymphatic circulation through the major organs of the body, we greatly increase oxygen and nutrient delivery to the body tissues and remove the metabolic wastes and environmental and drug toxins that may have accumulated – just imagine how beneficial this can be for a sports injury or inflammation! Cold water discourages inflammation by means of vasoconstriction (constricting blood vessels) and making the blood vessels less permeable to inflammatory agents, while hot water helps relax and soothe painful (or over-tense) muscles. A hydrotherapist will be able to guide you in the most appropriate use of water for your specific injury or need.

    Hydrotherapy techniques can also be used to “fire up” the immune system and organs (the nerves carry impulses felt on the skin deeper into the body), stimulating the immune system to help it fight acute illnesses such as colds, bronchitis, and other more serious infections.


    The root cause of many health problems, such as high blood pressure, headaches, digestive complaints, insomnia, depression, and a weak immune system, is often stress. Hydrotherapy is very successful in treating stress. Reducing stress through hydrotherapy, whether it’s a mud bath or a swim in the lukewarm waters of Pamukkale, might just take care of those persistent headaches or tummy aches you have been experiencing!

    Many hydrotherapists also believe that hydrotherapy can help with muscular endurance in the elderly, pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with asthma, fibromyalgia, spasticity in brain injury patients, and rehabilitation after ligament surgery. If you are interested in investigating the topic further, consider Andrew Cole’s Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy(2004) and James Wilson’s The Water-Cure: Stomach Complaints & Drug Diseases, Their Causes, Consequences, and Cure by Water (1843).

    There is also a treatment known as colon hydrotherapy for people who suffer from various bowel conditions. You might also be familiar with the use of water therapy in labor and birth and in rehabilitating dogs.

    Do you want a radiant complexion? Hydrotherapy to the rescue! With adjustments to its temperature, hydrotherapists can use water to improve the efficiency of your perspiration glands. This will release toxins from your body, leaving you with a healthy, glowing complexion! The pressure from millions of bubbles on your skin can also increase oxygen flow, which reduces fluid retention and helps with cellulite. Sounds like a great idea!

    If you are uncertain whether hydrotherapy can work for you, speak to a hydrotherapist near you and ask how water therapy can improve your quality of life.


    Considering that hydrotherapy excludes the dangerous toxins often involved in using conventional medicines, it is worth a try. Writer Mark Twain believed that the spring water at Aix-les-Bains in France soothed his rheumatism. He described his experience as follows: “I began to take the baths and found them most enjoyable. So enjoyable that if I hadn’t had a disease I would have borrowed one just to have a pretext for going on.”


    Some people need to take care when considering hydrotherapy. If you have impaired temperature sensation, you run the risk of scalding or frostbite at extreme temperatures.

    If you have diabetes, avoid hot applications to the feet or legs and body-heating treatments such as body wraps. If you have been diagnosed with Raynaud’s disease, avoid cold applications. Hot immersion baths and long, hot saunas are also not recommended for those with multiple sclerosis, women who are pregnant, or anyone with high or low blood pressure or heart disease.

    Long, hot treatments might also be too exhausting for elderly people and children. Avoid cold footbaths if you suffer from bladder or rectal irritation, sciatica, pelvic inflammation, or rheumatism. In general, it is always best to consult a doctor to find out whether hydrotherapy will be good for you.


    There is a wonderful, complex world of healing in hydrotherapy. Explore the restorative powers of water … become purified, replenished, revived, and whole. ‘Water, cold, so cold! You cup your hands and gulp from them the dailiness of life!' (Randall Jarrell)

    Editor's note: This is another good read: Water: More than H2O

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