Hydrotherapy and The Swine Flu
A Possible Cure For What Ails You

Article contributed by Dr. Brandie Gowey, NMD
Founder, President, Naturopaths International

There is much fear in the general community about the swine flu, an influenza variant known as H1N1. This viral strain contains a new arrangement of gene segments, arising from assortments of two viruses of swine origin. This strain emerged from North America earlier in 2009 and has been responsible for a pandemic outbreak of the flu across the globe.

H1N1 has caused deaths in addition to a generalized anxiety from the fear of the virus, especially among vulnerable populations (elderly, young, HIV patients). According to press reports, the H1N1 variant is something to be fearful of, but studies of the virus show that the strain is “relatively mild” with “principles of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment” the same as with any other flu strain. The vaccine is being distributed widely, and most studies do show benefit to the elderly, while in the very young two or more administrations are required to adequately build antibody responses.

The vaccine is not a guarantee a patient will not get ill. It also will not help a patient once they do get sick. Naturopathic medicine has an answer to those worried, a treatment known for hundreds of years, called constitutional hydrotherapy (hydro). Hydro was once prescribed in ER’s to treat respiratory infections until the rise of antibiotics, at which time it was dismissed.

I learned hydro during my time in medical school at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, and also from Letitia Watrous, a naturopathic doctor from Spokane, Washington, who was handed the technique from her father, Dr. Harold Dick. Dr. Dick learned it from one of the founders of modern naturopathy, Dr. O.G. Carroll. According to Watrous,

“…water as a healing medium has been used for thousands of years…hydrotherapy was popularized by Father Sebastian Kneipp in the 1800s as the Kneipp water cure. His expertise was passed on to many pioneers of naturopathic medicine including Alex LeDoux, MD, Benedict Lust, NMD, and Henry Lindlahr, MD. In the 1890s a young man stricken with arthritis healed his affliction under the guidance of Dr. LeDoux who has studied with Father Kneipp. This young man was so inspired that he in turn studied with Dr. LeDoux and Dr. Lindlahr in Chicago from 1904 and 1908, at which time he then brought his talents west to Spokane, WA, where he became licensed as a sanipractor. This man was Dr. O.G. Carroll. Dr. Carroll was also an electrician and was intrigued by the emerging field of electrotherapy utilized by John Kellogg, MD. Based on this interest, O.G. decided to combine the applications of hot and cold packs with electrical stimulation and called it a ‘constitutional hydrotherapy’…because it changed the very constitution of the cells of the body."

Hydro employs the use of hot and cold towels coupled with electrical stimulation to the abdomen, bringing blood flow to the adrenal glands, digestive tract. Your gut houses most of your immune system and neurotransmitters such as serotonin: treatments (especially when repeated) will increase both. Clinically, I have seen hydro to cause tremendous shifts in the patients’ Vis—the vital force energy or chi. Patients will present with symptoms of cough, fever, pain, body aches, or fatigue and either leave with dramatically reduced symptoms or symptoms that quickly resolve within the next 24-48 hours. Some require a repeat in treatment over the course of the week or several weeks (especially if you are treating chronic fatigue).

My most favorite recent case was of a seven year old who presented to the clinic with a deep cough and crackles (lung sounds that alert the doctor to the settling of mucus within the lungs—generally an indication of an infection). By the next morning, the crackles had resolved completely. The patient still had a small cough in the morning, but the worry about an upper respiratory infection was gone.

Hydro is a very powerful treatment, one not to be ignored by the modern naturopathic doctor or patient. In the words of Father Kneipp: “According to my present conviction, now fixed for 17 years and tested by innumerable cures, he who knows how to apply the water in the plainest, easiest, and most simple way, will produce the most profitable results.”

Dr. Brandie Gowey, NMD
Founder, President, Naturopaths International
1100 N. San Francisco St, STE F
Flagstaff, AZ 86001


“Annually repeated influenza vaccination improves humoral responses to several influenza virus strains in healthy elderly”, deBruiin, etal, Vaccine. 1997 Aug-Sept; 15(12-13): 1323-9.

“An Update on swine-origin influenza virus A/H1N1: a review”, Schnitzler, etal, Virus Genes. 2009 Oct 7.

“Constitutional Hydrotherapy: from Nature Cure to Advanced Naturopathic Medicine”, Letitia Watrous, NMD, Journal of Naturopathic Medicine. volume 7, number 2

“Differential susceptibility of different cell lines to swine-origin influenza A H1N1, seasonal human influenza A H1N1, and avian influenza A H5N1 viruses,” Li LW, etal, Clin Virol, 2009 Oct 2

“Update on the 2009 pandemic influenze A (H1N1) virus”, Gordon SM, Cleve Clin J Med, 2009 October; 76(10):577-82

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