‘Water Cure’ or Hydrotherapy is an ancient form of medicine used to treat conditions including low back pain, arthritis, skin conditions, poor circulation and general immune deficiency. Hydrotherapy can also help to increase tone and reduce cellulite through its impact on circulation and lymphatic flow.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained in a technique called ‘Constitutional Hydrotherapy’. This involves using hot & cold temperatures of water to stimulate the body. It most commonly involves cycles of an extended application of heat, followed by a brief application of cold to the chest and the back.

Constitutional Hydrotherapy helps to promote healing through increased circulation. Alternating hot and cold temperatures cause the superficial blood vessels to dilate and constrict. This creates a “pumping” action that can alter blood circulation, stimulate the immune system, decrease pain and inflammation and increase elimination of released toxins.

The ‘pumping’ action of hydrotherapy also helps to increase lymph flow. Lymphatic congestion is an aggravating factor in decreased tone, cellulite and the build up of fluids (edema) in the body.

How does lymphatic congestion occur?

Fat, or adipose tissue, is rich in blood vessels. When small blood vessels become fragile, they leak excess fluid that accumulates in the compartments between the fat cells. This increases pressure within the tissues, resulting in poor lymphatic drainage. The increased pressure also pushes fat clusters closer together and inhibits venous return. The resulting vascular damage causes decreased collagen synthesis and an inability to repair tissue damage, which increases dermal weakness and vascular damage. Over time, fibrotic collagen deposits around fat cells worsening general tone and cellulite.

The use of hydrotherapy to increase tone is best done in combination with herbal medicine, and dietary and lifestyle modifications but can be quite effective over time. Constitutional Hydrotherapy treatments are typically once a week for 6-12 weeks depending on your health condition.

What to expect

You will be receiving a hot towel application to your chest & abdomen (5-10 minutes depending on comfort level) followed by a cold towel application to your chest (10-15 minutes depending on how long it takes for towel to warm up). This treatment is repeated on the back & legs. Treatment lasts approximately 45 minutes. Towels are applied directly onto the skin. Special attire aside from a bathing suit bottom or additional underwear is not required.

If you are unable to attend naturopathic appointments, there are many at-home hydrotherapy options that can be used to increase circulation. Try these other forms of ‘Water Cure’ to boost your health.

  • Sitz bath – There are two adjacent tubs of water, one hot and one cold. You sit in one tub with your feet in the other tub, and then alternate. Sitz baths are recommended for hemorrhoids, PMS and menstrual problems, cystitis, and polyps.
  • Warm water baths – Soak in warm water for up to 30 minutes, depending on the condition. Epsom salts, mineral mud, aromatherapy oils, ginger, peat and dead sea salts may be added.
  • Sauna – Dry heat alternating with cold showers can help to increase tone, increase vascular efficiency & circulation, boost immunity, reduce stress and increase mood
  • Steam bath – Wet heat alternating with cold showers can have an effect similar to saunas
  • Compresses – Towels are soaked in hot and/or cold water.
  • Wraps – Cold wet flannel sheets are used to cover a person lying down. The person is then covered with dry towels and then blankets. The body warms up in response and dries to wet sheets. This is used for colds, bronchitis, skin disorders, infection, and muscle pain.
  • Wet sock treatment – Used for sore throat, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections. This can also help with circulation and venous return in the legs.