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Hydrotherapy – sources, health benefits at

Friday, December 15, 2017 by

Hydrotherapy is an alternative medicine that makes use of water to treat and relieve pain. This type of therapy is considered to be an essential component of naturopathy, a medicinal system based on the healing power of nature. In the case of hydrotherapy, the methods and approaches under its name use the physical properties of water, like temperature, to remedy various health complications.

Water-based therapy has been utilized as far back as the times of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Roman and Japanese. Hydrotherapy as it’s known today is believed to have its roots in the 1800s, when it underwent a revival. Many of the techniques used in modern hydrotherapy have been credited to Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest who is considered a forefather of the naturopathic movement. Kneipp claimed that bathing his patients in cold rivers two to three times a week had cured them from disease.

Modern hydrotherapy is divided into two categories:

  • External hydrotherapy: According to, external hydrotherapy involves the application of ice, hot water or cold water to the body. When water is utilized, it will usually call for the patient to sit fully submerged in a bath or pool, with hot water being used to relax muscles and cold water to stimulate muscles instead. Ice-based hydrotherapy, on the other hand, relies on ice packs or cold compresses to sooth pains.
  • Internal hydrotherapy: Steam baths, enemas and colonic irrigation fall under this category. Douching, or directing water stream into the vagina to cleanse it, does as well, but this isn’t recommended by many hydrotherapy practitioners.

Health benefits of hydrotherapy

The following conditions are said to benefit from hydrotherapy sessions:

  • Arthritis
  • Back and shoulder pain
  • Brain or spinal cord injuries
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Fibromyalgia and other rheumatoid conditions
  • Hip, knee or ankle pain
  • Lymphedema
  • Neurological disorders, including stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Prolonged inactivity or immobility
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Sports Injuries

Hydrotherapy is best for conditions involving muscle and joint pains. According to, hydrotherapy with hot water relaxes the muscles, while hydrotherapy with cold water boosts muscle elasticity and metabolism. Hydrotherapy overall can increase circulation, strengthen weak muscles, and enhance joint range of motion. Furthermore, the buoyancy and reduced gravitational force that comes with being in water greatly decreases the stress that weighs down on joints. This means that people who normally have difficulty moving on land are able to do in water.

Although helpful against many health conditions, hydrotherapy is harmful for others. People with heart disease and hypertension, for example, are advised against undergoing hydrotherapy. This is because increasing blood flow throughout the body may place unnecessary strain on the heart. People with fevers shouldn’t undergo hydrotherapy either, as whole-body warming can raise a person’s body temperature.

Body systems supported by hydrotherapy

As was previously mentioned, hydrotherapy is excellent for the muscles and joints. In addition to these, the immune system can benefit from this naturopathic treatment as well. Hydrotherapy is said to boost immune system function by assisting in detoxification processes, which in turn decreases the risk of disease.

Moreover, hydrotherapy can support the majority of the internal organs by improving and increasing blood circulation throughout the body, as well as enhance their immunity.

Where to learn more


Hydrotherapy is a kind of naturopathic treatment that involves using water as a means of pain relief and treatment. This water-based therapy is good for joint and muscle aches and pains, since an aquatic environment removes weight from the joints and can either relax or stimulate the muscles, depending on the temperature of the water. As such, hydrotherapy is a great option for arthritis, fibromyalgia and back pain sufferers. Additionally, hydrotherapy can be useful for boosting immune system function.

However, hydrotherapy is not recommended for all conditions. As it can increase circulation, people with heart disease and vascular conditions may strain their hearts when undergoing hydrotherapy.

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