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Alternative and Complementary Therapies



Bath therapy


Water is the most valuable therapeutic agent. Bathing was considered an important measure for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease because of its remedial properties. The ancient Vedic literature shows various efficacy of water in the treatment of disease.

Water has some beneficial effects on the human system. It enhances circulation,boosts muscular tone,helps digestion and nutrition.It helps to eliminate the damaged cells and toxic matter from the system.Water is cold from 100c to 180c, neutral from 320c to 360c, hot from 400c to 450c. Above this temperature water loses its therapeutic value and is destructive.


This involves the injection of fluid into the rectum and is also known as rectal irrigation. This treatment involves the use of lukewarm water.The patient is made to lie on his left side extending his left leg and bending the right leg slightly. The enema nozzle,lubricated with oil or vaseline, is inserted in the rectum. The enema can containing the lukewarm water is then slowly raised and water is allowed to enter into the rectum. One to two litres of water is injected. The patient may either lie down on his back or walk a little while retaining the water. After five to 10 minutes, the water can be ejected along with the accumulated morbid matter.

This method is used to clean the rectum which is accumulated with faecal matter. This not only helps to clean bowels, also helps to improve the peristaltic movement of the bowels and also relieves constipation.A cold water enema is used for colon inflammation like dysentery, diarrhoea, ulcerative colitis,haemorrhoids and fever. A hot water enema is used to releive rectum irritation and inflammation.It also benefits women in leucorrhoea.

Cold Compress

This can be done with using a cloth wrung out in cold water. The cloth should be folded into a broad strip and dipped in cold water or ice water.This can be applied to head,neck, chest, abdomen and back. This mailnly controls the inflammatory onditions of the liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, intestines, lungs,brain, pelvic organs, fever and heart diseases. This can also used to soothe dermities and inflammations of external portions of the eye.

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 can be applied for several hours.This duration is dependentent on the the nature and thickness of the coverings and the water temperature.After the compress, rub the area with a wet cloth and then dried with a towel.This can be applied to the following:
  • 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.
  • The chest compress also known as chest pack, relieves cold, bronchitis, pleurisy, pneumonia, fever, cough and so on, while the joints compress is helpful for inflamed joints, rheumatism, rheumatic fever and sprains.

Hip Baths

This is one of the most useful forms of hydrotherapy.This treatment involves only the hips and the abdomen region below the navel.A special type of tub can be used for this purpose and this tub is filled with water in a way that when the sits, it covers the hips and reaches upto the navel.Four to six gallons of water may be required for this.An ordinary tub can also be used, if a special tub is not available. Hip bath is given in cold, hot, neutral or alternate temperatures.

Cold Hip Bath

For this the water temperature should be 100c to 180c and the duration is normally 10 minutes and it may vary depending on the conditions. If the patient feels cold or is very weak, a hot foot immersion should be given with the cold hip bath.The abdomen from the navel downwards and across the body should be rubbed with a coarse wet cloth. The legs, feet and upper part of the body should remain completely dry during and after the bath. A moderate exercise like yogasanas can be done after this bath to warm up.It helps to releive:
  • constipation
  • indigestion
  • obesity
  • helps the eliminative organs to function properly
  • irregular menstruation
  • chronic uterine infections
  • pelvic inflammation
  • piles
  • hepatic 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

Shoul not employed in,
  • acute inflammations of the pelvic and abdominal organs
  • ovaries
  • in painful contractions of the bladder
  • rectum or vagina.

Hot Hip bath

For this the temperature of water can be from 400c to 450c and it shpuld start at 400c and the temperature should be gradually increased to 450C.It is generally taken for 8 to 10 minutes.There should not be any abdominal friction and drink one glass of cold water before entering.Place a cold compress on the head.It helps to releive,
  • painful menstruation
  • pain in the pelvic organs
  • painful urination
  • inflamed rectum or bladder
  • painful piles
  • enlarged prostatic gland
  • painful contractions or spasm of the bladder
  • sciatica
  • neuralgia of the ovaries and bladder.
After the hot hip bath immediately take a cold shower bath. The bath should be terminated if the patient feels giddy or complains of excessive pain.

Neutral Hip Bath

The temperaure should be 320C to 360C and abdominal frictions should be avoided.This can be taken for about 20 minutes to an hour.Helps to releive,
  • acute and sub-acute inflammatory conditions such as acute catarrh of the bladder and urethra and subacute inflammations in the uterus
  • ovaries and tubes
  • neuralgia of the fallopian tubes or testicles
  • painful spasms of the vagina and prorates of the anus and vulva.
  • sedative treatment for erotomanis in both sexes.

Alternate Hip Bath

This can also be referred as revulsive hip bath and the temperature in hot tub should be 400C to 450C and then in cold tub 100C to 180C.One should alternately sit in the hot tub for five minutes and then in the cold tub for three minutes and the duration is normally 10 to 20 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 releives,
  • chronic inflammatory conditions of the pelvic viscera such as salpingitis
  • ovaritis
  • cellulitis
  • various neuralgias of the genito-urinary organs
  • sciatica and lumbago.

Spinal Bath

This bath is used to provide a soothing effect to the spinal column and influences the central nervous system.The tub used for this is raised at its back to provide proper support to the head.The water level in the tub should be an inch and a half to two inches and the duration for this bath is 3 to 10 minutes.It can be of cold spinal bath or hot spinal bath or neutral spinal bath.The cold bath helps to releive,
  • irritation
  • fatigue
  • hypertension
  • hysteria
  • fits
  • mental disorders
  • loss of memory
  • tension
The hot spinal bath helps and releives,
  • to stimulate the nervous
  • especially when in a depressed state.
  • relieves vertebral pain in spondylitis
  • muscular backache
  • sciatic pain
  • gastrointestinal disturbances of gastric origin.
The neutral spinal bath is a soothing and sedative treatment, especially for the highly strung and irritable patient. It is the ideal treatment for insomnia and also relieves tension of the vertebral column.

Full Wet Sheet Pack

In this the whole body is wrapped in a wet sheet, which in turn is wrapped in a dry blanket for regulating evaporation.The blanket should be spread on the bed with its edges hanging over the edge of the bed. The upper end should be about eight inches from the head of the bed. Then spread a linen sheet wrung out in cold water over the blanket so that its end is slightly below the upper end of the blanket.The patient is made to lie on the bedsheet with his shoulders about three inches below the upper edge. The wet sheet should be weekly wrapped round the body of the patient, drawn in, tightly tucked between the legs and also between the body and the arms. The sheet should be folded over the shoulders and across the neck.The blanket should be drawn tightly around the body and tucked in along the side in a similar manner, pulling it tightly. The ends should be doubled up at the feet. A turkish towel should be placed below the chin to protect the face and neck from coming into contact with the blanket and to exclude outside air more effectively. The head should be covered with a wet cloth so that the sculp remains cold. The feet should be kept warm during the entire treatment. If the patientís feet are cold, place hot water bottles near them to hasten reaction. 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 is useful in cases of,
  • fever especially in typhoid
  • continued fevers
  • those suffering from insomnia
  • epilepsy
  • infantile convulsions
  • relieving chronic cold
  • bronchitis
  • helps in the treatment of rheumatism and obesity.

Hot Foot Baths

The temperature for this bath is of 400C to 450C and the patient should keep his or her legs in a tub or bucket filled with hot water.The duration of the bath is 5 to 20 minutes.It is advised to take a glass of water before taking this bath and body should be covered with a blanket so that no heat or vapour escapes.The head should be protected with a cold compress. The patient should take a cold shower immediately after the bath.It stimulates,
  • the involuntary muscles of the uterus
  • intestines
  • bladder and other pelvic and abdominal organs.
  • It helps to releive,
  • sprains and ankle joint pains
  • headaches caused by cerebral congestion and colds.
  • it helps restore menstruation
  • increase the supply of blood especially to the uterus and ovaries.

Cold foot bath

Three to four inches of cold water at a temperature of 7.20C to 12.70C should be placed in a small tub or bucket. The feet should be completely immersed in the water for one to five minutes. Apply friction to the feet during the bath.It can be taken for 1 to 2 minutes.It helps to releive,
  • cerebral congestion and uterine
  • hemorrhage
  • treatment of sprains, strains and inflamed bunions
It should not be taken in cases of inflammatory conditions of the genito-urinary organs, liver and kidneys.

Steam Bath

The duration of this bath is 10 to 20 minutes.The patient, clad in minimum loin cloth or underwear, is made to sit on a stool inside a specially designed cabinet. Before entering the cabinet, the patient should drink one or two glasses of cold water and protect the head with a cold towel. cold shower should be taken immediately after the bath. If the patient feels giddy or uneasy during the steam bath, he or she should be immediately taken out and given a glasss of cold water and the face washed with cold water.Helps in
  • inducing perspiration in natural way
  • to eliminate morbid matter from the surface of the skin
  • improves circulation of the blood and tissue activity
  • relieves rheumatism, gout, uric acid problems, and obesity
  • neuralgias,
  • chronic nephritis
  • infections
  • tetanus
  • migraine.
It should be avoided for,
  • very weak patient
  • pregnant women
  • cardiac patients
  • those suffering from high blood pressure

Immersion Baths

This is also called as full bath and the tub used for this should be properly fitted with hot and cold water connections. This can be cold,hot,neutral and gratuated.

Cold Immersion Bath

The temperature for this type of bath is from 100C to 23.80C and the time duration is for 4 to 20 minutes.Before applying the bath, pour cold water on head, chest and neck and the head should be protected with a cold moist towel and rub the body vogorously. Helps to,
  • bring down fever
  • improves the skin
  • exhilarating circulation and stimulating the nervous system
Should not appply to
  • young children
  • Very elderly person
  • acute peritonitis
  • gastritis
  • enteritis
  • inflammatory conditions of uterus and ovaries

Graduated Bath
The temperature here is 310c and it should be reduced at the rate of 10c per minute until the temperature reaches 250c.This bath should be continued until shivering.The graduated bath is intended to avoid nervous shock by sudden plunge into the cold water. This bath is often dministered every three hours in cases of fever.It also produces a general tonic effect, increases vital resistances and energises the heart.It effectively brings down the temperature except in malarial fever.

Neutral Immersion bath

The temperature should be from 260C to 280C and duration is 15 to 60 minutes.The neutral bath diminishes the pulse rate without modifying respiration.

This treatment is the best sedative. Since the neutral bath excites activity of both the skin and the kidneys, it is recommended in cases relating to these organs. 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.Also helps to,
  • those suffering from multiple neuritis
  • alcoholism and
  • other narcotic habits
  • chronic diarrhoea
  • peritonitis
  • chronic affections of the abdomen
  • toxemic conditions caused by dyspepsia and pruritus
The neutral bath should not be prescribed,
  • in certain cases of eczema
  • skin diseases where water aggravates the symptoms
  • in cases of extreme cardiac weakness.

Hot Immersion Bath

For this bath the temperature is from 36.60C to 400C.It is started at 370c and then gradually raised by adding hot water and the duration is 2 to 15 minutes.Dring cold water before this bath and head, neck,shoulders should made wet with cold water.Cold compress should be applied during the bath.The bath should be stopped if the skin becomes reddish. This helps in,
  • in dropsy when there is excessive loss of tone of the heart and blood
  • relieves capillary bronchitis and bronchial pneumonia in children
  • relieves congestation of the lungs
  • activates the blood vessels of the skin muscles
  • pneumonia
  • In dysmenorrhoea
  • chronic rheumatism and obesity
  • pain due to stones in the gall bladder and the kidneys
  • suppressed menstruation
This bath should be given when the menstruation is due and may be repeated for two to three days in succession. In chronic bronchitis a very hot bath taken for 5 to 7 minutes should be accompanied with rubbing and friction. This relieves congestion of the mucous membrane and provides immediate relief and apply oil after the bath. This is not advised in
  • cases of organic diseases of the brain or spinal cord
  • cases of cardiac weakness
  • cardiac hypertrophy

Epsom Salt Bath

One to one-and-half kg of epsom salt is added to about 135 litres of hot water in a immersion water tub at a temperature of 400c.Before applying the bath drink a glass of cold water and cover the head witha cold towel.This bath can be taken from 15 to 20 minutes.The best time to take this bath is just before retiring to bed. Helps in,
  • sciatica
  • lumbago
  • rheumatism
  • diabetes
  • neuritis
  • cold and catarrh
  • kidney disorders and other uric acid
  • skin affections.


Full baths should be avoided within three hours after a meal and one hour before it. Local baths like the hip bath and foot bath may, however, be taken two hours after a meal. Clean and pure water must be used for baths and water once used should not be used again. While taking baths, temperature and duration should be strictly observed to obtain the desired effects. A thermometer should always be used to measure the temperature of the body. Women should not take any of the baths during menstruation. They can take only hip baths during pregnancy till the completion of the third month.


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