In addition to the regimen related to the internal functioning of the body such as diet and exercise, the Naturopathic system of healing makes use of several remedial procedures external to the body. These procedures are designed to achieve two aims: (1) accelerating the process of healing and (2) providing relief to the patient from the painful symptoms of the disorder. Among these external remedies prescribed by Nature Cure, hydrotherapy is of special importance. Water is an integral factor of our life processes. Actually water makes up 70 per cent of the human body.
There are numerous widely accepted methods of hydrotherapeutic treatment, chief among which are enema, hipbath, the full sheet pack, local wet packs, steam-bath, hot foot bath, spinal bath, localized fomentation by steam, jalaneti (in the yogic tradition), and irrigation of the stomach.
Before discussing all these methods in detail, let us consider the two common uses of water. These are (1 ) drinking, and (2) bathing.
Every one must drink at least 5 to 6 glasses of water in a day. Best results are obtained if water is taken on an empty stomach just after getting up and cleaning the teeth, half an hour before each meal, and two hours after each meal. In addition, of course, water can be taken as required when needed. The temperature of the water should preferably be neither too high nor too low. A glass of water with a little lemon juice, taken early in the morning on an empty stomach, is highly beneficial. No more than a mouthful or two of water may be taken during a meal if absolutely necessary. No water should be taken for one and a half to two hours after a meal.
It must also be remembered that drinking water in quantities smaller than those indicated above leads to constipation, and has an adverse effect on the functioning of the kidneys.
Bathing has a unique importance in our daily life. A bath washes away the dirt adhering to the body, the skin is rendered clean and glowing, and its pores are opened up, thus facilitating the elimination of the poisons in the body through perspiration. The friction on the body caused by bathing and by drying the body stimulates circulation, and imparts a blissful feeling of freshness. A good scrubbing relieves fatigue. People who perspire too freely should bathe twice a day, as should all of us in summer.
Everyone should form a habit of using cold or lukewarm water for bathing. A hot-water bath may be pleasant at the time of bathing, but is likely to generate a feeling of lassitude later, whereas a cold-water bath is stimulating. Those who are in the habit of taking hot-water baths would be well advised to reduce the temperature of their bath water progressively till they find cold-water baths acceptable, tolerable and indeed enjoyable. A sparse use of soap while bathing is recommended. Soap washes away the beneficial oils of the skin, rendering the skin, dry and reducing its glow. Frequent baths, with a good scrubbing during baths will be sufficient to keep the skin clean and healthy. Multani clay, cream and turmeric powder may occasionally be used with advantage. A mixture of gram flour and butter milk is also highly beneficial. No one should entertain the (mistaken) notion that the use of expensive perfumed soaps will enhance the beauty of the face and turn us into matinee idols.