Hydrotherapy Immune BoosterCold & Flu | Dr. Gibran Ramos | January 25, 2010 at 8:00 am
Dr. Gibran Ramos: We’ve been using water therapeutically for centuries. In Germany and France, there are towns that derive their names from their healing waters. The Norwegians and Swedes are famous for their saunas and some of the Turkish baths in Istanbul are hundreds of years old. The Native Americans used sweats to drive out illness.
Hydrotherapy is derived from the European baths and uses water at specific temperatures to achieve a desired physiologic response. Using Naturopathic principles, hydrotherapy promotes the body’s own ability to heal itself and return it to a state of balance. There are cold whole body rinses, alternating hot and cold baths, wraps, fomentations, sitz baths, steam inhalations, compresses, and many other methods. These techniques are meant to modulate certain white blood cells, change the body’s pH, increase movement and secretion of various metabolites, expand and contract blood vessels to move the blood, help to regulate blood pressure and increase peripheral circulation.
Hydrotherapy at home
During flu season, I tell my patients with a cold about home hydrotherapy. In the evening, take a regular hot shower and warm your body up completely. Then switch the water to cool or cold for 30 seconds. Turn the water back to hot for 3 minutes and then switch it back to cool/cold for 30 seconds. Keep alternating the hot and cold, ending on cold for up to three rounds total. Towel off dry and then climb into bed throwing on an extra blanket or two and even putting on a knit cap. Your body’s immune system will be activated by the shower. Of course, always check with your doctor before performing home hydrotherapy.
Over my recent holiday to chilly Colorado, I had the opportunity to spa as the Nordics do! After three days of intensely working out at the local athletic club I rewarded my sore muscles by stretching out in the sauna. While resting in the steamy room I sat there trying to talk myself into heading outside for a plunge in the pool. Keeping in mind the healing powers of water, I ran outside in my robe and dove in the community pool. Burr! Remembering Dr. Gibran’s suggestions I diligently re-entered the sauna hoping to shed more toxins. After two additional dips in the temperate pool I finished with a soak in the outdoor hot tub to relax.
Want to try it yourself? Head north! Nordic spas are popping up in colder latitudes along the United States Canadian border. If you find yourself in the northeast, try Le Nordik in Quebec, Canada to experience the traditional Finnish spa experience. Traveling east? Visit the Harrison Hot Springs Pools in British Columbia for a resort-like water therapy indulgence!
Dr. Gibran Ramos completed his six year training and internship in Naturopathic and Chinese Medicine at National College of Natural Medicine. Dr. Ramos helps patients transform their lives and optimize their well-being at a private practice in Portland, Oregon.