Hydrotherapy: The Healing Power of Nature
Hydrotherapy involves the use of water for treatment of different diseases. One of the types of hydrotherapy is “thalassotherapy” which makes use of the sea water for treatment. Hydrotherapy is one of the oldest therapies being used for ages and was formerly called hydropathy. Hippocrates prescribed bathing in spring water for sickness – this alone, defines the age of this treatment.
Hydrotherapy has not only prevailed in humans but it is also used for treating animals. Canine hydropathy is used for treating dogs while cats are also treated with this therapy. The healing property of hydrotherapy is based on its mechanical and/or thermal effects while the contents and minerals present in the bath are equally important for the treatment.The principle is to make use of the body’s reaction to the hot and cold stimuli, the pressure exerted by the water to the body and the sensation of the water itself being felt by the body.
Various therapies are now available these days that’s employs to hydrotherapy, these include; mineral baths (spa), underwater massage, Jacuzzi, cold plunge, hot tub, balneotherapy, whirlpool bath, foot bath etc.All these techniques use the physico-chemical properties of the water for the benefit of individuals. In general, heat is used to relax and soothe the body and to slow down the activity of the organs while in contrast, cold is used to stimulate, rejuvenate and increase the internal activity of the body.Thus the hot bath helps in relaxation of central nervous system as well tensed muscles, while hot bath is used to energize the mind and body.
Alternating the hot and cold water is employed in Sitz bath where two adjacent tubs of hot and cold water are used and you sit in one tub with your feet in another and then in an alternate manner. The therapy is used to treat polyps, cystitis and hemorrhoids.
The plasma of human and sea water is believed to be similar; the trace elements like magnesium, potassium, iodide and sodium present in seawater are therefore believed to be absorbed by the skin.
In another way, thalassotherapy is also done by applying mud of the sea area, algae and weeds and also by inhaling the fog of the sea. The effectiveness is however not accepted scientifically but the therapy is still common in the area of the Dead Sea.Mineral bath (spa) is more common these days specifically for their cosmetic purpose rather than medical benefits. In this treatment, the spring water with minerals is used for therapeutic purpose and for beauty, equally. The treatment is believed to treat arthritis, boost up immune system, relieves pain and inflammation and relaxes the muscles.
Cosmetically these spas keep the skin soft, smooth and subtle. The magnesium, sodium, calcium potassium and bromide salts in the bath are easily absorbed into the pores of the skin and thereby improve the radiance and texture of the skin. Calcium keeps the skin hydrated by the retention of water where potassium balances the level of moisture.Although the practice is not scientifically approved to have medicinal effect but it does soothe and relaxes the nervous system and helps alleviate anxiety and pain.
About the author: Javeria Kamal is a Pharm-D student and is works for human and animal rights. She can be reached at [email protected] .
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