What is Constitutional Hydrotherapy?
Constitutional hydrotherapy is a special and specific technique that utilizes the healing power of water to greatly improve recovery from countless illnesses, acute and chronic. It serves to improve and normalize circulation, soothe and regulate the nervous system, support detoxifying and eliminative processes, strengthen and heal the digestive system, and stimulate the immune system, all while optimizing the body’s natural ability to heal. This subtle, yet powerful therapeutic treatment is a safe and effective therapy with potential to produce dramatic healing and resolution of symptoms when performed by a qualified Naturopathic Doctor or therapist.
Rich in History
Hydrotherapy is one of the oldest methods of healing and has been utilized in most ancient culture for thousands of years. The modern evolution of Naturopathic Hydrotherapy began with the techniques of Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) of Germany, and Vincent Priessnitz (1799-1852) of Austria. Kneipp and Priessnitz used hydrotherapy to heal themselves from major illnesses; Kneipp from Tuberculosis and Priessnitz from broken ribs. Their clinics became particularly famous when high rates of healing came to their patients during Europe’s most deadly disease epidemics.
In the early 1900’s, Dr. Otis G. Carrol, who was also an electrician, originated the practice of constitutional hydrotherapy, by combining the traditional applications of hot and cold packs with sine wave stimulation. It was this addition of sine wave stimulation that made each treatment twice as effective while shortening the treatment time from 4 hours, to 45-60 minutes, requiring fewer sessions to achieve the same results.
Goals and Principles of Treatment
One of the core principles of Naturopathic Medicine is to support and stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal. Constitutional hydrotherapy achieves this goal by optimizing quantity and quality of the blood to organs that remove waste products from the body (the liver, kidneys, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and skin), while restoring balance to the abdominal organs through the autonomic nervous system. Compromised blood flow to these organs may result in accumulation of toxins, pollutants, and metabolic waste products causing cellular, tissue, and organ dysfunction contributing to chronic disease. Constitutional therapy not only optimizes quantity of blood flow, it also increases delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and immune system elements to major organs of the body, thus optimizing quality of blood as well.
Blood can be viewed as a vehicle delivering life to all cells of the body (oxygen, nutrients, etc.). Naturopathic constitutional hydrotherapy manipulates blood flow, while increasing bloods nutritive quality, to maximize the body’s overall health and healing abilities. Constitutional Hydrotherapy enhances immune response, improves overall nutrition, and promotes the body’s natural detoxification process. Constitutional hydrotherapy’s ability to gently stimulate the autonomic nervous system helps restore equilibrium, reduce overall stress response, and increase one’s resiliency, creating a unique and relaxing way to train the body to maintain a healthy and healing balance.
The overall effects of this gentle treatment to the body are indeed remarkable. In fact, studies recently preformed at the National University of Naturopathic Medicine found that constitutional hydrotherapy temporarily increased white blood cell count by 10,000 circulating cells within 2 to 8 hours after 1 treatment. This appears to be evidence of a powerful immune system response. Yet another study demonstrated constitutional hydrotherapy will boost immune function, remove excess fluid, and reduce the incidence of cold and flu by 50%!
Ernst, E., Pecho, E., Wirz, P., Saradeth, T., “Regular Sauna Bathing and the Incidence of Common Colds,” Annals of Medicine, 22.4 (1990): 225-7
Boyle, Wade, ND and Saine, Andre, ND, Lectures in Naturopathic Hydrotherapy, Sandy: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1988: 17-18
What to Expect during a treatment session
You can expect a session of constitutional hydrotherapy to last between 45-60 minutes. Before the treatment begins, vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature may be taken. Some preliminary health questions may be asked. You will than lay on a treatment table, similar to massage table, while a series of alternating damp hot and cold towels are applied to your chest and back. Two soothing electrodes emitting a gentle sine wave will also be placed on your chest and back during the procedure. At the end of the treatment a gentle friction rub to the skin will revive and awaken you after a relaxing and rejuvenating treatment.
Pricing and Packages
Depending on the condition being treated, as many as 10 (or more) sessions may be recommended. Children may require fewer treatments. For acute conditions, such as a cold or flu, it is suggested to perform constitutional hydrotherapy every day for 3-4 consecutive days. For a chronic condition, therapy is often recommended 2-3 times per week for several weeks.