treatment or 'taking the waters' is probably the oldest and most
natural form of therapy in everyday use -- from showering and
sea-bathing to sitting in a warm bath or taking the waters at a warm
natural spring. Water is known to stimulate blood flow, relax muscles,
ease pain, invigorate the system and help cleanse the body of toxic
Many of the original healing centres in ancient Greece and Rome were
specially sited over naturally occurring waters with special mineral
content. It is the healing effect of this mineral content when used to
bathe arthritic limbs or rheumatic joints that has given spas their
Hydrotherapy techniques include steam baths, jacuzzis, aerated pools,
fine shower sprays or sitz baths (sitting alternately in cold and hot
baths). Cold and hot compresses can be used for painful joints, and at
special spa sites, water is also drunk for its mineral content.
In recent times, water baths have been used successfully in childbirth
to reduce the discomfort and distress to both mother and child.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis or M E, a particularly disabling condition,
has responded well to daily cold baths and showers that stimulate and
'kick start' the hormonal and immune systems which appear to be
non-functioning in this condition.
Some proponents of hydrotherapy also suggest sitting in a tub of cold
water for half an hour each day to tone up the body and immune system
and clear out toxins. Others suggest drinking a few glasses of water
first thing in the morning on an empty stomach in order to cleanse the