Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 27.01.2022

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Application of water solid, liquid or vaporous state in the form of pours, full-body or partial baths, treading water for the treatment of acute or chronic diseases and generally roborating to maintain health. Depending on the desired stimulation strength, cold, frozen (ice), warm or hot water can be used. Medical water treatments are recognized as classic treatment methods for various diseases and are covered in whole or in part by some health insurance companies.

Hydrotherapy can be done in many variations: sauna with cold casts, warm and cold wraps, washes, steam applications, rubs, partial or full body baths with and without additives, casts, continuous showers, treading water and dew. Alternating stimuli- alternating warm baths or casts are also frequently used, physical stimuli such as water pressure, temperature or chemical stimuli, as well as electrical stimuli can also be added.

As stimulation therapy there are different stimulation strengths, see also under indication.

Mild stimulation:

- brushing and rubbing, e.g. for -circulatory disorders, striae cutis distensae, urticaria factitia

- rising foot and forearm baths, e.g. for: circulatory disorders, Raynaud's syndrome

- moist compresses, e.g. for: weeping wounds, weeping eczema, dermatitis solaris, erysipelas

medium irritation:

- rising partial baths, e.g. in: circulatory disorders, resistant tinea unguium, Raynaud's syndrome, circulatory disorders, acrocyanosis

- alternating warm baths, roborating effect, e.g. in case of urticaria factitia

- sauna for immune stimulation in case of susceptibility to infections, also in case of collagenosis (only bio sauna)

strong stimulus:

- overheating bath - caution !!!

- Herpothermy, e.g. in case of: herpes simplex (bite away in case of insect bites) or whole body hyperthermia in case of metastasizing tumors

- Local cold therapy: e.g. for: hemangiomas, warts, genital lichen sclerosus et atrophicus; cold chamber: acute arthritis

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Promotes blood circulation, stimulates the immune system, roborates, stimulates the metabolism, relieves pain (cold, ice), relieves cramps (heat).

Thermal factor: supply or withdrawal of heat. Cold can induce reactive hyperemia - production and displacement of heat from the interior to the surface of the body. Thermal factor ranges from ice cold to unbearably hot:

ice cold = 0-6°C; cool = 24-30 °C, warm = 38-40 °C , hot = 48-50 °C.

Mechanical factor: buoyancy in the bath (reduction of the own weight, e.g. with movement restriction), displacement of the blood from the dependent parts - cave: cardiac load with full bath!

Chemical factor: through bath additives, e.g. essential oils, but also carbon dioxide - thereby vasodilatation with subsequent reduction of blood pressure and relief of the heart.

Electricalfactor: electrical stimuli in the partial or full bath intensify the thermal factors, influence the innervation and thus the activity of the sweat glands, for example, see iontopheresis.

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Regulation of the disturbance in different clinical pictures - activation or inhibition: small stimuli activate, medium strong ones strengthen and promote, excessive stimuli inhibit.

Stimulation therapy mild to medium strong

- in the form of rising foot - resp. forearm baths,

circulatory disorders, Raynaud's syndrome

- as moist compresses, compresses,

weeping wounds, weeping eczema, dermatitis solaris, erysipelas, arthritis.

- Alternating warm baths:

roborating in general debility, urticaria factitia.

- Sauna incl. cold showers

General immune stimulation in case of susceptibility to infections, collagenosis (only bio sauna up to 60 °C)

- Overheating bath

Increase of the body's own defences, immune stimulation, relaxation

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- Rising foot - resp. forearm baths

Foot- resp. arm bath starting at 37 ° C, adding warm/hot water up to a temperature of 42 ° C within 15 minutes.

Cave burns due to the incoming water

- Moist overlays/compresses

Dip compresses in water or tea (cold or warm), wring out and apply directly to the skin, in case of acute inflammation over the prescribed cream.

Change after 5-10 minutes, depending on temperature.

- Alternating warm baths

Alternating cold and warm baths, also alternating warm showers with slowly increasing temperature difference between warm and cold.

- sauna

Depending on the desired temperature, stay in the sauna at different heights, sitting or lying down, infusions after 10 minutes. After 10 -15

minutes, carefully cool down by means of cold showers or cold immersion baths.

- Overheating bath, caution- check the cardiovascular system beforehand.

Full body bath starting at 37 ° C, slowly adding warm/hot water up to a temperature of 42 ° C.

Cave- cardiovascular reaction!

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Strong stimuli: cardiac insufficiency, polyneuropathy, pregnancy

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  1. Brenke R. (2020) Classical naturopathic treatments today hydrotherapy. Zaenmagazin 2: 36-40
  2. Cordes JC (1984) Physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy 2nd edition. People and Health