Sunday, 6 May 2012

All About Water. Part 3

Now it is time to learn how water is beneficial for use in hydrotherapy, but first here is a reminder. 

Importance of Drinking Sufficient Water
It is very important that we drink sufficient amount of water in a day to make up for the water lost. Drinking pure, fresh or distilled water is essential to our health and well-being. Our need for water increases as we grow older. As we age, our skin and mucus membranes become thinner and lose more water, and our kidneys function less efficiently. So our need for water increases. You may not feel thirsty. But you should get into the habit of drinking water. 

OK now that is out of the way, let's move on. 

What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is the use of water to heal and ease a variety of ailments, and may be used in many different ways. The healing properties of water have been recognised since the ancient times. Many people know the benefits of a hot bath to relieve aching muscles and stiffness, relax the body and aid a restful sleep. Hot water causes blood vessels to dilate, open skin pores, and relaxes the limbs and muscles. A cols bath acts in the opposite way and is refreshing and invigorating. The cols water causes the blood vessels to constrict and blood is diverted to internal tissues and organs to maintain the core temperature of the body. Applications of ice packs reduces swelling caused by injury and causes the pores to close.

Hydrotherapy for physiotherapy
Today water is used to treat people recovering from injury, problems with the muscles and joints and those with severe physical disabilities. Swimming and floating on water takes the strain off the joints and muscles and people feel more mobile when in water. It is a great form of exercise for those who suffer from the above.

A wrap is for treating fever and local inflammation. A linen cloth is moistened with cold water (warm water for respiratory diseases), well wrung out, and then wrapped tightly around the appropriate part of the body, but not so tightly as to cause constriction.
If the wrap is not felt to be warm after a quarter of an hour, heat should be applied in the form of a hot water bottle or by giving warm tea. The wrap should be removed immediately if the person complains of feeling unwell.

Neck wrap: sore throat

Chest wrap: bronchitis, lung disease, neuralgia

Body wrap: inflammatory disease of the upper abdomen, gastric and duodenal ulcers, cramps, sleeplessness, fever

Trunk wrap: (between pubic bone and armpits): high fever

Calf wrap: (between foot and knee): minor bruising and swelling, oedema, for withdrawing heat in fever and phlebitis

Joint wraps: rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis

Adding beneficial herbs to the water can also assist these ailments. You can use an infusion or a decoction. 
An infusion is just like a cup of tea, herbs are soaked in water for 15 minutes, strained, then a cloth is dipped into the herbal water.
A decoction is herbs that have been boiled in water for 20 minutes then herb material is strained or filtered out. Decoctions are useful for harder parts of herbs such as roots, wood, bark seeds or berries.

Alternatively you can use essential oils mixed with a little oil or glycerine to help disperse throughout the water.

Warm wrap- A wrapping cloth is soaked in a hot herbal infusion or decoction, then wrung out and applied to the patient's body.

Used for: Painful chronic diseases such as arthritis, renal disease, or cystitis, and for stimulating blood flow.
Warning: Always check that the temperature is tolerable before applying a wrap.

Cold wrap- Cooled herbal decoction is spread onto the wrapping cloth and placed on the part of the body. Crushed ice in a plastic bag may also be repeatedly applied for one minute, then removed for four.

Used for: Various inflammatory sprains and strains, pleurisy. Ice packs can also be used for headaches.
Warning: When using ice packs, place a thin cloth between the pack and the skin to prevent frostbite.

Hot and cold sprays
Hot and cold sprays are used for a variety of disorders but mainly used for skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, sunburn and minor wounds.

Having a shower is a good form of hydrotherapy, use for the same following ailments. After you have had a hot-warm shower, let the water run cold for a few minutes and stand under it to refresh and revive yourself. Do not stand under the cold water for too long as it can make your body go into shock. Using a herbal or aromatherapy soap can enhance the benefits you are after.

Most of us are familiar with having a bath, mostly to get ourselves clean. Baths can be used for different ailments, with the addition of herbs, it can give a greater healing effect. If you suffer from blood pressure problems consult your doctor before trying any of the following.

Hot bath- Bath water that is at temperature between 36-40 degrees can be used to ease aches in ligaments and muscles. You can add some Epsom salts or herbs to enhance the benefits. For a general hot bath 5 minutes is sufficient, you can build yourself up to 10 minutes but no longer as it can have the opposite effect. If you start to feel dizzy or get heat rash it is advised to get out immediately. 

Cold bath- Cold baths are used to improve blood flow to internal tissues and organs and to reduce swelling. You may sit for a short time in shallow with additional water being splashed onto exposed skin. An inflamed, painful part can be immersed in cold water to reduce swelling. Do not allow yourself to become chilled. This form of treatment is best suited to people who are able to quickly dry themselves with a warm towel. Not advised for elderly or young people. 

Neutral baths- Which are the same temperature as the body (34-37 degrees) can help alleviate the tension, nervousness, and other symptoms that accompany anxiety. It can also have a relaxing sedative effect on the nervous system. It cannot cure anxiety disorders. Warm baths with or without herbs can help soothe anxious states of mind. Once you are relaxed, you can focus on the issues or conflicts that are causing your anxiety.
Hot moist compresses applied to the spine, hot foot baths, and hot water bottles placed at the feet can be beneficial in relieving anxiety.

When added to your bath, the following herbs can help you relax

German chamomile , elder flowers, jasmine flowers , valerian root,
Lavender, rose petals

When you are feeling fatigued from tension and anxiety, the following herbs will give you a stimulating and rejuvenating bath

basil leaves , bay leaves , lemon peel , lemon verbena , marigold petals , orange leaves and flowers , peppermint leaves , pine needles, rosebuds , rosemary leaves , sage

Herbal baths can be particularly soothing when you are experiencing a period of stress. There are several ways to prepare an herbal bath:

  • Simmer 1/2 cup of herbs in 1 quart of water in a covered pot for fifteen minutes. While the herbs are simmering, take a short shower to cleanse your body, then fill the tub with hot or warm water. Strain the liquid from the decoction into the bath water, and wrap the herbs in a washcloth. Soak in the tub for at least twenty minutes, using the "herbal washcloth" to rub over your body.
  • Fill a thin cloth bag with 1/2 cup of herbs, either placing it in the bath water or tying it to the spigot so that the hot water runs through it as it fills the tub. Again, soak for twenty to thirty minutes.
To enhance the effects of a bath drink a cup of herbal tea (with lemon and honey added, if you wish) when waiting for the bath to fill. While soaking in an herbal bath, you can read, meditate, listen to peaceful music, or just sit quietly, concentrating on relaxing yourself. Prolonged baths have the opposite effect of relaxation so no longer than 15-20 mins maximum. 

To learn more on the benefits of herbs on the skin visit our facial blog where we explain the benefits of herbs on the skin. 

Follow these steps for Effective Hydrotherapy:

Take a cold shower after you step out of the bath. This brings and immediate rush of blood through your system, as well as a rush of energy. (Try alternating cold and hot shower to get a similar effect. 3 minutes of hot water followed by 30 seconds of cold water and the 3 minutes of hot water, etc.)

Stay in the bath no more than 15 to 20 minutes. If you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems, don't stay long enough to raise your body temperature.

Evening is the best time to soak in water we found that if we took a soaking bath before going to bed we slept more readily and deeply.

Sitz bath
Sitz bath are generally used for treatment of painful conditions with broken skin, such as piles, blisters or anal fissure. In cases of chicken pox in the genital area a sitz bath can assist with going to the toilet. A sitz bath is a bowel or bucket of warm water, that may have herbs, that a person sits in to relieve symptoms caused by the above. 

As you can see water is one of the best resources provided by nature and can assist us in many ways. If you missed part 1&2 of our water blog visit here 
Part 1
Part 2

We hope that next time you have aches and pains or are tired and frustrated you turn to water and see if it helps. Stay tuned for our final part of our water blog where you can learn water saving tips and techniques and also how you can reuse water for a variety of activities.

Thank You For Reading

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