The Use and Benefits of Hydrotherapy and Essential Oils

Article Contributed by Nina Wells

At its most basic description, hydrotherapy is the use of water to alleviate the symptoms of a variety of ailments and disease.  The creation of the treatment (as a modern medicinal treatment) is contested depending on who you talk to, but it is known that in the 1820’s, the Hydropathic Institute of Gafenburg was established and offered a wide variety of therapies using water. Sebastian Kneipp, managed to treat his own health conditions with fresh water in the 1850’s and developed the Kneipp Kur which continues to be studied and practised even today.  It wasn’t until 1843 that hydrotherapy made its way into the United States.

Today you can find hydrotherapy in many spas and wellness centers.  The idea is that by using different temperatures of the water, you can stimulate and heal all of your organs, muscles and nerves.  It can also help by increasing blood circulation and touch on all aspects of a healthy digestive system.  By stimulating sweat glands, it can lead toxins and waste to be eliminated from the body.  Heat tends to soothe and calm, while cold water can feel invigorating and create energy. 

The combination of water temperature, pressure from the water applied to different areas of the body, along with the soothing aspect of being in water itself, all combine to create a very effective therapy.  With water pressure on different points of the body, it feels almost as if you’ve been getting a massage, and it’s very helpful for sore and tired or tense muscles.

Hydrotherapy can include several techniques, and you can benefit from just one or a combination of them, depending on your symptoms (which may change from session to session).

 Bath, steam shower sessions, sitz baths, foot baths, steam inhalation, hot or cold compresses (or a combination of both being used alternately), body wraps and cold mitten friction rubs can all be used during a visit to a participating wellness center or spa.  The conditions that can be treated by hydrotherapy include (but are not limited to) arthritis, depression, headaches and migraines, joint pain, sore and knotted muscles, nerve problems, sleep disorders, acne, cold and flu, stress and stomach issues. 

Although hydrotherapy can be used by most people safely, extra care must be taken with regards to small children and the elderly.  Some treatments may not be recommended at all for people in either of these stages of life, and pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor to help determine which therapies are safest.

You may already see, then, how the use of essential oils might be used in conjunction with some of the hydrotherapy cures to boost immune systems and alleviate pain and irritation even more efficiently.  A steam inhalation, for example, might be best boosted with a dose of peppermint or eucalyptus oil so that the patient benefits from not only the heat (it does wonders for skin conditions by opening and cleaning pores and moisturizing skin) but also from the sinus opening effect from peppermint or eucalyptus. 

The application of a hot compress with either peppermint or lavender oil will help not only calm nerves, but also go a long way towards reducing inflammation and even in pain reduction.  Peppermint is a cooling oil and it can leave an almost numbing sensation when applied to skin, and lavender has been shown to have healing properties that can even reduce the effects of a burn. A cold compress applied to the temples for ease of headache or migraine with the addition of rosemary will reduce pain even further – and faster.  Oils can also be used in the shower or bath to help with joint pain, clear sinuses and help with other skin conditions. 

The ability of both hydrotherapy and essential oils to address problems with not only the body but also the mind helps the client or patient to be at ease and relax.  It is very hard for a body to start the healing process when it is tense and the mind is anxious.  When a patient takes in the scent from an oil, it can have an immediate calming effect even before they start whatever hydrotherapy treatment they are best helped by.

This article was written by Nina Wells from Vidalux. Nina has been writing articles for over 10 years and is a commanding voice in the health and fitness community with her articles high in demand.


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