Naturopathy is a scientific system of healing stimulating the body’s inherent power to regain health with the help of five great elements of nature – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether. Naturopathy is a call to “Return to Nature” and to resort to simple way of living in harmony with the self, society and environment. In fact, Nature Cure is a way of life of which we find a number of references in the Vedas and other ancient texts. The morbid matter theory, concept of vital force and other concepts upon which Nature Cure is based are already available in old texts.
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The largest constituent of human body is water. About 60 to 70 per cent of the total body weight consists of water. Naturopathy recognises the importance of water and the role it plays in human body. Water therapy is therefore an important part in the methods of treatment in naturopathy.
Enema (rectal irrigation)
In naturopathic Enema, lukewarm water is injected into the rectum for cleaning the bowels. After five to ten minutes, the water can be ejected along with the accumulated morbid matter. A warm water enema helps to clean the rectum of accumulated faucal matter. This is not only the safest system for cleaning the bowels, but also improves the peristaltic movement of the bowels and thereby relieves constipation. A cold water enema is helpful in inflammatory conditions of the colon, especially in cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, ulcerative colitis, haemorrhoids and fever.
Cold Compress Cold Compress is a local application using a cloth which has been spread out in cold water. The cold compress is an effective means of controlling inflammatory conditions of the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, intestines, lungs, brain, and pelvic organs and so on. It is also advantageous in cases of fever and heart disease. The cold compress soothes dermities and inflammations of external portions of the eye. When the eyeball is affected, the cold compress should follow a short fomentation.
Heating Compress This is a cold compress covered in such a manner as to bring warmth. A heating compress consists of three or four folds of linen cloth wrung out in cold water which is then covered completely with dry flannel or blanket to prevent the circulation of air and help accumulation of body heat. It is sometimes applied for several hours. After removing the compress, the area should be rubbed with a wet cloth and then dried with a towel. A throat compress relieves sore throat, hoarseness, tonsillitis, pharyngitis and laryngitis. An abdominal compress helps those suffering from gastritis, hyperacidity, indigestion, jaundice, constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery and other ailments relating to the abdominal organs.
Hip Baths The hip bath is one of the most useful forms of hydrotherapy. As the name suggests, this mode of treatment involves only the hips and the abdominal region below the navel. A special type of tub is used for the purpose. The tub is filled with water in such a way that it covers the hips and reaches up to the navel when the patient sits in it. Generally, four to six gallons of water are required. Hip bath is given in cold, hot, neutral or alternate temperatures.
Cold Hip Bath The water temperature in cold hip bath should be 10 degree C to 18 degree C. The patient should undertake moderate exercise like yogasanas, after the cold hip bath, to warm the body. A cold hip bath is a routine treatment in most diseases. It relieves constipation, indigestion, obesity and helps the eliminative organs to function properly. It is also helpful in uterine problems like irregular menstruation, chronic uterine infections, pelvic inflammation, piles, hepatic congestion, chronic congestion of the prostate gland, seminal weakness, impotency, sterility, uterine and ovarian displacements, dilation of the stomach and colon, diarrhoea, dysentery, hemorrhage of the bladder and so on.
Hot Hip Bath Hot hip bath is generally taken for eight to ten minutes at a water temperature of 40 degree C to 45 degree C. Before entering the tub, the patient should drink one glass of cold water. A cold compress should be placed on the head. A hot hip bath helps to relieve painful menstruation, pain in the pelvic organs, painful urination, inflamed rectum or bladder and painful piles. It also benefits enlarged prostates gland, painful contractions or spasm of the bladder, sciatica, neuralgia of the ovaries and bladder. A cold shower bath should be taken immediately after the hot hip bath.
Neutral Hip Bath The temperature of the water should be 32 degree C to 36 degree C. The neutral hip bath helps to relieve all acute and sub-acute inflammatory conditions such as acute catarrh of the bladder and urethra and sub acute inflammations in the uterus, ovaries and tubes. It also relieves neuralgia of the fallopian tubes or testicles, painful spasms of the vagina and prorates of the anus and vulva. Besides, it is a sedative treatment for erotomanis in both sexes.
Alternate Hip Bath This is also known as revulsive hip bath. The temperature in the hot tub should be 40 degree C to 45 degree C and in the cold tub 10 degree C to 18 degree C. The patient should alternately sit in the hot tub for five minutes and then in the cold tub for three minutes. The duration of the bath is generally ten to twenty minutes. The head and neck should be kept cold with a cold compress. The treatment should end with a dash of cold water to the hips. This bath relieves chronic inflammatory conditions of the pelvic viscera such as salpingitis, ovaritis, cellulitis and various neuralgias of the genito-urinary organs, sciatica and lumbago.
Spinal Bath The spinal bath provides a soothing effect to the spinal column and thereby influences the central nervous system. It is given in a specially designed tub with its back raised so as to provide proper support to the head. It is beneficial in almost all nervous disorders such as hysteria, fits, mental disorders, loss of memory and tension. The neutral spinal bath is a soothing and sedative treatment, especially for the highly strung and irritable patient.
The duration of this bath is twenty to thirty minutes. The hot spinal bath, on the other hand, helps to stimulate the nervous, especially when they are in a depressed state. It also relieves vertebral pain in spondylitis and muscular backache.
Full Wet Sheet Pack
The whole body is wrapped in a wet sheet for regulating evaporation. The head should be covered with a wet cloth so that the scalp remains cold. The feet should be kept warm during the entire treatment. The pack is administered for half an hour to one hour till the patient begins to perspire profusely. He may be given cold or hot water to drink. This pack is useful in cases of fever especially in typhoid and continued fevers, and benefits those suffering from insomnia, epilepsy and infantile convulsions. It is useful in relieving chronic cold and bronchitis and helps in the treatment of rheumatism and obesity.
Cold Foot Bath For cold foot bath, three to four inches of cold water at a temperature of 7.2 degree C to 12.7 degree C should be placed in a small tub or bucket. The feet should be completely immersed in the water for one to five minutes. Friction should be continuously applied to the feet during the bath, by rubbing one foot against the other. A cold foot bath, taken for one or two minutes, relieves cerebral congestion and uterine hemorrhage. It also helps in the treatment of sprains, strains and inflamed bunions when taken for longer periods. It should not be taken in cases of inflammatory conditions of the urinary organs, liver and kidneys.
Hot Foot Baths one should keep his or her legs in a tub or bucket filled with hot water at a temperature of 40 degree C to 45 degree C. Before taking this bath, a glass of water should be taken and the body should be covered with a blanket so that no heat or vapour escapes from the foot bath. The duration of the bath is generally from five to twenty minutes. The patient should take a cold shower immediately after the bath. The hot foot bath stimulates the involuntary muscles of the uterus, intestines, bladder and other pelvic and abdominal organs. It also relieves sprains and ankle joint pains, headaches caused by cerebral congestion and colds.
Steam Bath Steam bath is one of the most important time tested water treatments which induce perspiration in a most natural way. The patient, clad in minimum loin cloth or underwear, is made to sit on a stool inside a specially designed cabinet. The duration of the steam bath is generally ten to twenty minutes or until perspiration takes place. A cold shower should be taken immediately after the bath. The steam bath helps to eliminate morbid matter from the surface of the skin. It also improves circulation of the blood and tissue activity. It relieves rheumatism, gout, uric acid problems, and obesity. The steam bath is helpful in all forms of chronic toxemias. It also relieves neuralgias, chronic nephritis, infections, tetanus and migraine.
Immersion Bath (full bath) It is administered in a bath tub which should be properly fitted with hot and cold water connections. The bath can be taken at cold, neutral, hot, graduated and alternate temperatures.
Cold Immersion Bath This may be taken for four seconds to twenty minutes at a temperature ranging from 100 degree C to 23.80 degree C. Before entering the bath, cold water should be poured on the patient`s head, chest and neck and the head should be protected with a cold moist towel. During the bath, the patient should vigorously rub his or her body. After the bath the body should be quickly dried and wrapped up in a blanket. This bath helps to bring down fever. It also improves the skin when taken for five to fifteen seconds after a prolonged hot bath, by exhilarating circulation and stimulating the nervous system.
Graduated Bath The patient should enter the bath at a temperature of 31 degree C. The water temperature should be lowered gradually at the rate of 1 degree C per minute until it reaches 25 degree C. The bath should continue until the patient starts shivering. The graduated bath is intended to avoid nervous shock by sudden plunge into the cold water. This bath is often administered every three hours in cases of fever. It effectively brings down the temperature except in malarial fever. Besides, it also produces a general tonic effect, increases vital resistances and energises the heart.
Neutral Immersion Bath This bath can be given from fifteen to sixty minutes at a temperature ranging from 26degree C to 28 degree C. It can be given for long duration, without any ill-effects, as the water temperature is akin to the body temperature. The neutral bath diminishes the pulse rate without modifying respiration. It is also beneficial for cases of organic diseases of the brain and spinal cord, including chronic inflammatory conditions such as meningitis, rheumatism and arthritis. It also helps those suffering from multiple neuritis, alcoholism and other narcotic habits, chronic diarrhoea, peritonitis and chronic affections of the abdomen. The neutral bath should not be prescribed in certain cases of eczema and other forms of skin diseases where water aggravates the symptoms, nor in cases of extreme cardiac weakness.
Hot Immersion Bath This bath can be taken from two to fifteen minutes at a temperature from 36.6 degree C to 40 degree C. Generally this bath is started at 37 degree C and the temperature is then gradually raised to the required level by adding hot water. Before entering the bath, the patient should drink cold water and also wet the head, neck and shoulders with cold water. This bath can be advantageously employed in dropsy when there is excessive loss of tone of the heart and blood. This bath relieves congestation of the lungs and activates the blood vessels of the skin muscles. This bath should be given when the menstruation is due and may be repeated for two to three days in succession. The hot bath is a valuable treatment in chronic rheumatism and obesity. It gives immediate relief when there is pain due to stones in the gall bladder and the kidneys.
Epsom Salt Bath The immersion bath tub should be filled with about 135 liters of hot water at 40 degree C. with dissolved Epsom salt. This is useful in cases of sciatica, lumbago, rheumatism, diabetes, neuritis, cold and catarrh, kidney disorders and other uric acid and skin affections.
Mud therapy Mud therapy is effective remedy to several diseases in Naturopathy. Soil refreshes, vitalizes and enlivens the human body. It is believed that for wounds and skin diseases, application of clay or moistened earth was the only true natural cure. The body is thus repaired with the element from which it is assumed to be made. All diseases, especially the serious nervous troubles would lose their terrors, by sleeping or lying on the earth at night.
Walking barefoot is regarded as a valuable step in achieving good health. Going barefoot draws vital energy and strength out of the earth. The significance of earth has become well-known around the world today. It is presumed that the body draws unto itself the therapeutic minerals and some of the earth`s magnetism. Mud Therapy includes Mud bath, mud pack and others.
Mud Pack The use of mud packs has been found highly beneficial and effective in the treatment of chronic inflammation caused by internal diseases, bruises, sprains, boils and wounds. This mud treatment helps to retain moisture and coolness for longer time span then compared to water packs or compresses. The mud pack relaxes the pores of the skin, draws the blood into the surface, relieves inner blockage and pain, and promotes heat radiation and removal of morbid matter.
Mud packs have been found to be a valuable treatment of diseases relating to general weakness or nervous disorders. It can also bring down fever and is beneficial in the treatment of scarlet fever, measles and influenza. The mud pack is prescribed for swellings, eye and ear troubles, gout, rheumatism, stomach troubles, kidney and liver malfunctions, diphtheria, neuralgia, sexual disorders, headache, toothache and general aches and pains.
Mud Bath Mud or clay bath is another mode of treatment in mud therapy. The application is in same way as packs, but only on a larger scale on the entire body. In this, mud or clay is made into a smooth paste mixed with hot water. The paste is then spread on a sheet which in turn is wrapped round the body. One or two blankets are then wrapped over this, depending on the temperature of the room and that of the pack.
The mud bath is found to tone up the skin by increasing the movement and energising the skin tissues. Frequent mud baths help to improve the complexion, clear spots and patches on the skin following skin disorders or due to smallpox. It is very beneficial in the treatment of skin diseases like psoriasis, leucoderma and even leprosy.
This bath is also valuable in getting relief from rheumatic pain or pain in the joints caused by injuries. The duration of the bath should be from thirty minutes to one hour. Mud applications also form a vital part of natural beauty treatment.
Massage can be used with advantage as a method of treatment for many common ailments. The various forms of massage and their usefulness in various diseases are described here in brief.