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Therapeutic Bath
Dr Adrian Kennedy
Neutral baths is where the temperature of the water in which the person is soaked is the same as body temperature, i.e. 95°-98° F (35°-36.6°C).

A half hour in this soak will ensure complete relaxation for the nerves in the surface of the skin and will calm the central nervous system. A similar treatment using sea water in a floatation tank, in a dark room with soothing music is very popular in spas around the world.

Cold baths are used to improve circulation and increase the blood flow to internal organs. The treatment is extreme since the water is ice cold and is not recommended for older people and children, where a cold pack or a cold towel could be used to bring down temperature etc.
Hot fomentations are beneficial to rid the body of toxins through perspiration, to relieve pain in the joints and muscles, and also to relax muscle cramps. Here the person is left to soak in a warm tub at a temperature comfortable to him. Very often, the water is treated with oils of eucalyptus to treat the lungs, or simply lavender to help relaxation. In cases where a child or older person cannot remain in the tub; hot towel packs are used on the affected areas and joints.

Steam therapy
is very popular not only in clearing and opening up skin pores, but also in combating cough, colds, and joint pains. However, persons with high BP and asthma may not feel comfortable in the stream room. Here also essential oils and aromas are released in the room to speed up treatments. The steam bath or ‘Turkish bath‘ goes back thousands of years as one of the earliest forms of medical treatments of many ailments, including insomnia and total body detoxification.
Jacuzzi or water massage is a reasonably modern adaptation of the communal Japanese baths, where entire families soak and relax together in an appropriate sized warm water pool. Just as a steam room can accommodate from two to several dozens, Jacuzzis are also made to order. All these facilities are equipped with jet sprays with various capabilities of massaging various parts of the body including spine, hips, feet, shoulders etc. The water temperature can be set to personal choice, and is excellent for total relaxation. Aqua exercises are done in a swimming pool. They are especially directed at the grossly obese persons with arthritis and joint problems, and for those who find movement difficult and painful. In this treatment a trained therapist will get the person to do various movements of the legs, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, etc, whie in the water. This helps in creating painless movement in arthritis. For the obese, walking in a pool allows for the movement of walking, which otherwise would not be possible.

Hot mineral springs
are found around the world and have been made especially famous by the Germans. In these cases, hot water from sub terrain underground sources bubble to the surface of the earth and gather in pools. The water is heavily saturated with local minerals, especially sulphur, and often times contain radon which is mildly radioactive. While this water is therapeutic for pains and various skin ailments, it must never be drunk. Entire industries in the form of spas and tourist spots have sprung up around hot mineral springs in Europe, the USA
and even in India.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

  1. Pain and swelling can be reduced with an ice pack and cold fomentation
  2. Detoxification of the body is easily achieved by steaming and hot immersions
  3. Joint ailments are helped by hot fomentation
  4. Fever is reduced by cold packs
  5. Aqua exercise is good for obesity and arthritis, for the hips, knees, etc.
  6. Alternate therapists use hydrotherapy for relaxation and stress reduction
Prof Adrian Kennedy is Consultant, WellnessRx, International guru on health, wellness and lifestyle medicine and guest faculty for Harvard Medical School, USA

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