Constitutional Hydrotherapy Cho Long Elizabeth Kim, NMD
Constitutional hydrotherapy is a special technique in which alternating hot and cold compresses are applied to the torso and abdomen which greatly improves recovery from various illnesses, both acute and chronic by stimulating our vis medicatrix naturae, our own body’s natural ability to heal itself.
During the treatment, the patient lies comfortably on a soft table while hot towels are applied over the upper torso to warm the body. Once the body is warm, a single cold towel is applied in exchange for the hot one. This process occurs twice: once on the front of the body, and again, on the back.
The hot compress causes local vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), causing blood to be drawn away from the core and to rise toward the blood vessels closer to the skin. Then, the alternating cold compress causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) which drives the blood back into the core of our body. In addition, the cold compress (also called a warming compress) is kept on the torso for 10 minutes, allowing the body to warm it. This process increases circulation and immune function. Some sources state that this warming process increases white blood cell production and lymph flow throughout the body. This increase in circulation is very beneficial for detoxification and excretion of toxins from the body, and increasing tone of the vessels.
At the River Source Treatment Center, we add another dimension to the traditional constitutional hydrotherapy to enhance its benefits. Hydrotherapy researchers have shown that an increase in blood flow is delivered to the underlying organs in response to stimulation of the skin above it. For this reason, electrodes from a sine wave machine are applied to the skin above the adrenal glands and abdomen to deliver a mild, soothing current to those organs. Stimulating the adrenals and intestines increase the body’s ability to recover from stresses at an optimal rate. The adrenal support is vital for our clients because prolonged use and abuse of pharmaceutical and illicit substances have been known to decrease the function of this crucial gland, responsible for the direct production of vital hormones in our body, and linked to our brain’s signaling pathways (via the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis). Long term use of Opiates and other substances have also been known to decrease immune function, especially by disrupting the intestinal flora and its tissue: the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) and Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (MALT), which account for 70% of our body’s immune system. Enhancing the function of the GALT and MALT would allow the body to protect itself from foreign pathogens so that it may divert more of its energy to healing and rebuilding the body during their stay at the River Source.
Patients who receive Constitutional Hydrotherapy report improved sleep, increased vitality, decreased recovery time from colds and flu, and an overall peaceful and serene detoxifying experience. As with all therapies, consult your Naturopathic Physician before receiving constitutional hydrotherapy and receive all treatments under a physician’s supervision for your safety.
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