Oftentimes ignorance can lead to all sorts of complications. So, today, let us add to your wellness encyclopedia.
Hot and cold water on the body produce positive effects. While tepid or neutral temperatures can be relaxing, they do not produce as powerful an effect as hot or cold water can.
Water therapy has been around for ages. Ancient spas used water to treat various ailments such as fatigue, exhaustion and depression.
The word “spa” in Latin is an acronym of salus per aquam or “health from water.”
Spa is also the name of a village in Belgium where hot mineral springs were used by Roman soldiers in treating aching muscles and wounds from battle.
Roman citizens bathed daily in the now famous Roman Baths even before the Bath mineral spring was discovered. There were approximately 170 baths in Rome during the reign of Caesar Augustus (27 B.C. to 14 A.D), mostly public baths that were built and used by Roman soldiers.
In 70 A.D., the Romans built a spa around the hot springs in Bath, England, and a temple nearby to honor the goddess Minerva. By the year 300 A.D., there were over 900 baths throughout the Empire.
The oldest Roman spa is still in existence today, located in Merano, Italy.
(Log on to www.stone-waters.com/clinicalwork/historyofspas.)
In Greek medicine, there evolved a healing tradition called the Water Cure (therapy). The Water Cure is the common term for a collection of therapies which make skillful and ingenuous use of the healing virtues of water.
Why should something as ordinary as water be beneficial?
Here are the reasons:
Water is the greatest solvent, which produces a cleansing effect.
The heat and cold of water has healing effects.
Water is easily absorbed by the body.
Moderately hot water stimulates respiration, digestion and blood circulation.
Brief cold water treatments provide a “thermic impression.”
When the body recognizes the cold, it reacts by quickening the circulation, energizing the nerves, improving breathing and stimulating the muscles.
Warning: Prolonged hot water application will eventually depress the body processes.
Good news: Hot-cold remedies, when given in alternating sequence, can jumpstart the body.
The body should be warm before the cold is applied. Exercise or apply a hot compress before cold treatment is given.
Once exposed to the cold, the body must be dried quickly and the body kept covered and warmed.
The result is a removal of congestion in the body, a recharged immune system, antibacterial action and recharged energy levels.
Home remedy: If you are suffering from extreme headaches or migraine, fill a pan with hot water. Place your feet in the pan for five minutes. The blood congested in your head will move toward the body part exposed to the heat (your feet). The result :instant relief
To reduce fevers: Cool applications without friction or rubbing can be applied for 15-20 minutes. Neutral/ tepid baths/ showers can continue for a longer period.
Very cold baths or applications should be for one to five seconds only.
Those who are sleepless, have chronic rheumatism, are anemic, are very thin, weak or under the influence of alcohol should not have prolonged cold treatments.
People with weak hearts or kidney disease can have mildly cold treatments only. This is not recommended for pregnant women.
In general, very hot baths can weaken the body. A maximum immersion of between three and seven minutes for fatigued muscles is ideal.
Emergency treatment for eclampsia, sunstroke, fever, congestive headache:
Ice cravat—This is like an ice pack except that ice is laid out on a towel that is folded and wrapped then placed around the neck like an ice collar (about three inches wide, 12 inches long).
The effect: Contraction of blood vessels (the carotid arteries in the neck) slows down blood circulation and congestion in the head.
Ice bag/ pack—reduces swelling, relieves pain, controls and reduces bleeding and inflammation.
Fill an ice bag halfway with ice. Cover bag with a small towel. Place on affected area. Make sure you do not apply ice directly to the skin to avoid frost bite.
Throat compress—For sore throat, laryngitis and tonsillitis
Needed: A piece of cloth long enough to encircle the neck.
Place the cloth in cold water. Wring it well. Place on the neck. Cover neck with a dry cloth. Use overnight. By the following morning, you will notice that the towel is dry and the inflammation is reduced.
Fomentations with moderate heat can relax muscles and induce sleep, increase the flow of white blood cells and relieve muscle spasms.
The patient must be resting at room temperature (75-80° Fahrenheit) where there is no draft.
Get four beach towels. Boil water in a big pot. Once boiling, turn off the fire. Dip the towel in the pot. Wring all water from the towel. When temperature is bearable, place it on the patient’s body, front and back.
Then with two dry towels, cover the wet towel. At this point the patient is cocooned by the hot towel. This is guaranteed to relax muscles and induce sleep.
While you are soaking in a tub of hot water, remember to drink water, taking little sips at a time. And do not immerse yourself longer than seven minutes. Oversoaking leads to dehydration.