Naturopathy is a broad system of medicine built on simple and reliable principles. One of these principles is that proper circulation to internal organs and tissues is a necessity for pain relief, optimal metabolic function, repair of damaged or infected tissue, and for general well-being. Hydrotherapy, the use of alternating hot and cold water, is one of the oldest and most effective ways to improve circulation.

Constitutional hydrotherapy is a special technique that greatly improves recovery from many acute and chronic illnesses. Examples of chronic conditions that may benefit from hydrotherapy include asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, constipation, cancer, migraines, and autoimmune conditions such as arthritis, chronic fatigue immunodeficiency syndrome, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. Acute conditions that are treated include bronchitis, acute asthma attacks, colds, flus, coughs, headaches, and sinus infections. It has been used successfully by thousands of naturopathic doctors for over a century and at one time was standard medical treatment for many illnesses in hospitals and clinics.

Hydrotherapy works so well because it acts to stimulate the body’s own healing force. These constitutional treatments stimulate healing by enhancing the oxygenation and circulation of blood and lymph, by promoting better digestion of food and nutrition to the cells, by increasing the oxidation and elimination of toxins, by strengthening the general defense of the body and by assisting in the restoration of nervous equilibrium.

During the treatment the patient lies comfortably on a soft table while hot towels are applied over the upper torso. The person is then wrapped in a sheet and covered with several layers of blankets. Once the skin is warmed, a single cold towel is exchanged for the heated one. The body, well prepared by the preceding warmth, reacts to this temperature change by greatly increasing the blood flow to the skin and the internal organs of the chest and abdomen.

Hydrotherapy researchers have shown that a reflex increase in blood flow occurs in internal organs when the circulation to the overlying skin is stimulated. It is this internal reaction which is responsible for the long lasting and cumulative effects of a series of hydrotherapy treatments. Research has further shown that the beneficial effects on the immune system last for up to 24 hours making this a very effective therapy for any disorder involving immune function.

The benefits of constitutional hydrotherapy include an improvement in sleep, digestion, bowel function, an increase in your energy level and a reduction in chronic pain. I have found that other naturopathic therapies such as herbal medicines, special diets or homeopathy often work better due to concurrent constitutional hydrotherapy treatments.

Constitutional hydrotherapy should be repeated three or four times per week for several weeks. The number of treatments needed is in part determined by your specific illness as well as your provider. Many patients have found it extremely beneficial to combat the early onset of a cold or flu or just as a treatment to make them feel better following a stressful period in their life.

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