Over 70% of Earth is covered by water. The human body is around 60% water, and our brains are 85% water. If we go more than 3-7 days without drinking water, we die.
I would say water is pretty important, wouldn't you?
Water also has an impressive ability to conduct temperature (less than metals, but that is a good thing - we don't want to burn ourselves). This property is taken advantage of in hydrotherapy, a form of treatment used by naturopathic physicians to treat a wide variety of conditions, both acute and chronic. Best of all, many of these treatments can be done at home for next to nothing in cost or risk.
The general premise with using hot and cold water therapy is to increase circulation of blood and lymph. With good circulation, you get faster recovery and relief. Rather than suppressing symptoms, you are actually helping your body deal with the issue more efficiently. These treatments can prevent you from needing antibiotics to fight infections, and get back to yourself in less time.
These are some of my personal favorite at-home hydrotherapy techniques for throat, chest, and feet. You may remember I mentioned warming socks (aka cold wet socks) in last year's post about cold-care; you can catch up on other ways to help prevent and treat colds there. These home hydrotherapies can be used to speed recovery from sore throats, chest coughs, and colds, as well as help with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and acute mastitis from breastfeeding. (As always, this is not medical advice, just information).
WARMING SOCKS: for head congestion, upper respiratory infections, colds, insomnia, dental pain, teething pain, and ear infections
This hydrotherapy technique was traditionally called the "wet sock treatment," but "warming socks" is just as accurate and far more appealing. These can be great for kids fighting infections or viruses, and they have an added bonus of sound sleep, even with a stuffy nose.
You will need: one pair of cotton socks, cold tap water, one pair of wool socks (at least 60% wool), your bed
First, make sure your feet are warm. Ideally, take a hot epson salt bath (or foot bath) beforehand, but as long as your feet are warm and you don't feel chilled you can skip the bath and the treatment will still be beneficial. Run cold water over the cotton socks, wring them out, and put them on. Put the DRY wool socks on top of the cold wet cotton socks, and then get right under the covers for bed. (Don't worry, it only feels cold for a moment.) Over the course of the night your body will warm and dry the cotton socks, and by morning they will be be completely dry.
THROAT COMPRESS: for sore throat, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, and lymphadenopathy
You will need: two hand towels or dish towels, hot water, a wool scarf (or other fabric) and cold water
Run hot water over the towel, wring it out, and put it around neck your neck. Wrap the wool scarf around your neck on top and leave them both on for 5 min. Run cold water on another towel, wring it out, and put it around your neck. Again, wrap the wool scarf around your neck on top and leave them both on for at least 20 minutes. You can repeat this 2-3x day until your throat is back to normal.
CHEST COMPRESS: for early flu signs, cough, chest cold, asthma, acute mastitis (nursing), chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia (change compress every 30 minutes if temperture is above 103 F)
You will need: a cotton t-shirt, cold water, and a wool sweater (at least 60% wool)
First, make sure you are not chilled. A hot epson salt bath is great to do first. If you do not have time for a bath, before doing the treatment run hot water over a towel and lay with it on your chest for 5 minutes. Then, run cold water over the cotton t-shirt, wring it out, and put it on. Immediately put the DRY wool sweater on top (and preferably go right to bed).
These simple, tried-and-true hydrotherapy treatments can be profoundly helpful. If you try them and they make a difference (or you try and they don't!), please leave a comment and let me know. As I learn these therapies, it is great to hear from people first hand about what they find effective.