This treatment modality is thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health. Hydrotherapy should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
What does hydrotherapy involve?
Hydrotherapy is the use of water, ice and steam as a medical treatment. It has been used by many cultures throughout human history from Native American "sweat lodges" to early Roman and Turkish therapeutic bath houses. Types of hydrotherapy include whirlpool baths for relaxation, ice packs to reduce swelling, warm water to cleanse wounds, humidifiers and liquids to combat dryness and dehydration, steam baths and colonic irrigation.
How is hydrotherapy thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health?
Hydrotherapy can provide relaxation and symptom relief from a variety of ailments. Heat-based therapies cause dilation of blood vessels and increase circulation, acting to relieve pain. Cold-based therapies constrict blood vessels, reduce circulation and decrease swelling. Whirlpool baths and spas reduce stress and increase relaxation.
What has been proven about the benefit of hydrotherapy?
The American Cancer Society states that "hydrotherapy is an accepted, useful form of symptom treatment for many ailments. The ability to promote relaxation in its many forms is well established." However, internal forms of hydrotherapy should be used with caution. Colonic irrigation can be dangerous and lead to electrolyte imbalance. Claims that it helps treat cancer have never been substantiated.
What is the potential risk or harm of hydrotherapy?
The majority of hydrotherapy treatments are harmless. However, cases of bacterial diseases have been reported from users of contaminated public bathhouses. Excessive hot or cold water can burn the skin. Colonic irrigation can perforate the colon and may be harmful to the body's electrolyte balance.
How much does hydrotherapy cost?
Cost will vary depending on what form of hydrotherapy is chosen and the supplies necessary to participate in the therapy. For example, soaking in a hot bath is very inexpensive while getting away for a weekend at a spa can be extremely expensive.
For additional information:
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Web site: www.naturopathic.org
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.