Most of us have grown up putting an ice pack on a sprained ankle, or a hot pack on sore muscles. We use heating pads to ease menstrual cramps, ice cubes to take the bite out of bee stings, clothes straight out of the dryer for comfort and coziness, and cold wet cloths on our foreheads in fever. There are so many ways that we all use the application of either hot or cold to bring about certain feelings in our bodies.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is a naturopathic medical treatment that involves applying alternating hot and cold to the patient’s body in order to improve the flow of blood and lymph.
Naturopathic constitutional hydrotherapy is a treatment that lasts about an hour, and involves application of gentle electrostimulation, along with alternating hot and cold towels to the abdomen and back to increase blood and lymph flow in the patient’s body.
Blood is the great nourisher in our bodies; it carries nutrients, oxygen, immune cells, inflammatory molecules, and cellular waste, just to name a few things. When we can improve blood flow, we impact its delivery of all of these beneficial things to the cells that make up our internal organs, our skin, our muscles, and the immune system.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is indicated in many different types of ailments, because so many conditions of the body can be improved when we affect blood flow. Colds and flus resolve quickly with constitutional hydrotherapy because of the improved immune function seen when blood and lymph increase circulation. Increased circulation means more bug and virus-fighting immune cells are distributed around the body to do their job fighting disease. The treatment is also very relaxing, and every sick body needs time to rest and rejuvenate in order to heal!
Constitutional hydrotherapy is also helpful in GI complaints because it nourishes the tissue and provides gentle stimulation to the digestive system. Additionally, hydrotherapy is great for patients with stress and fatigue because the increase in blood flow means an increase in delivery of nutrients to all the tissues and organs of the body. Fatigue is also helped due to the clearance of cellular wastes and toxins, which tend to accumulate and in doing so, can make us feel sluggish as our bodies work hard at cleaning up.
Constitutional hydrotherapy addresses chronic inflammation in similar ways to fatigue by increasing clearance of cellular wastes and inflammatory factors by increasing blood flow. Also, the nourishing quality of improved blood flow can help our bodies operate better under the stress of chronic disease by providing nutrients and cofactors to support cellular processes.
Lastly, menstrual irregularities can be helped by constitutional hydrotherapy because increased blood flow means nourishment of the reproductive organs, delivering nutrients and oxygen, and clearing inflammation and cellular wastes that can contribute to painful menses or other reproductive issues. Female patients should note that due to the increase in blood flow created by this treatment, they may not want to receive constitutional hydrotherapy on days with heavy menses.
Constitutional hydrotherapy is often applied in a series, and some patients will see results more clearly when they have more than one treatment. For this reason, at Spring Integrative Health we offer packages for constitutional hydrotherapy sessions, and suggest scheduling one or two treatments per week. We look forward to your visits and the opportunity to improve your health with this traditional naturopathic treatment, long loved by both doctors and patients alike!
Dr. McKenzie Mescon is a first year resident at Spring Integrative Health. She received her medical degree from National University of Health Sciences in Chicago, Illinois.