Amazing Health

Hydrotherapy at Home

Article by:

Joe and Elsa Willis |

11 min read

Hydrotherapy at Home

Contrast therapy, sometimes referred to as hydrotherapy, is the use of hot and cold water for health and healing. A contrast bath or contrast shower can relieve headaches, stimulate the immune system, improve circulation, speed recovery from infection, and relieve cold symptoms and assist the healing process. Best of all, it’s easy and you don’t need special equipment to do hydrotherapy at home. Continue reading to learn more.


What is hydrotherapy or contrast therapy?

Hydrotherapy, also known as contrast therapy, is a powerful healing tool that has been used by many cultures throughout history. Hippocrates used and recommended hydrotherapy to provide relief from ailments.1 Hydrotherapy saw a resurgence in popularity in Europe during the 18th century and was also used during the 19th century in America.2 


In his book, Depression: The Way Out, Dr. Neil Nedley describes some conditions that can benefit from hydrotherapy:


“For more than 100 years, mental illness has occasionally been treated with warm baths utilizing natural hot springs or other sources. Before the 1950s, special showers, baths, wet sheet wraps, and other forms of hydrotherapy were routinely used in psychiatric hospitals throughout the United States and Europe. These approaches were not only used to treat depression, but were also used to treat delirium, agitation, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbances, and pain syndromes.”3


Hydrotherapy can use hot or cold water, often both, and can involve the whole body or only part of it. 


Hydrotherapy can help provide relief from pain, aid in healing, strengthen the immune system, and encourage better overall health. 



Physiology of Hydrotherapy or Contrast Therapy

Hydrotherapy has a powerful effect on your body. 


Hot/cold therapy, using very hot and very cold water, encourages circulation. Heat dilates blood vessels and cold causes the vessels to constrict. This helps bring inflammation down, encourages healing, and improves mobility. Hot and cold treatments also stimulate the immune system and increase your body’s white blood cell count.4 



How to do hydrotherapy at home

You can benefit from hydrotherapy! You don’t need special equipment or mineral/hot springs water. Regular water and common household items are all that’s necessary for effective hydrotherapy treatments. 


Below are some of the common hydrotherapy treatments that you can easily do at home. In certain cases, these treatments may not be right for everyone. Babies, small children, frail or elderly persons, and those with certain diseases may not benefit from these treatments. Please exercise caution. However, don’t be afraid! When used properly, water is an incredible tool for healing and can help you reclaim your health. 





Contrast Bath

Contrast baths are the immersion of a body part alternately in cold and hot water. This causes alternate contraction and dilation of blood vessels, which increases blood flow, white blood cell activity, and the oxidation process to speed up healing.


This treatment is based on the principle that by alternate contraction and dilation of the blood vessels, brought about by the contrasting application of heat and cold, the circulation is improved and the removal of waste products is hastened.5


Indications (Conditions appropriate to be treated with contrast bath)

  1. Congestive headaches
  2. Infections (give treatment 2-6 times per day to stimulate local defense against infection)
  3. Sprains, strains, and other traumas
  4. Poor circulation, congestion, indolent ulcers
  5. Osteoarthritis



Contraindications (Conditions that should not be treated with contrast bath)

 Contrast bath treatment is dangerous if you have the following health conditions:


Contrast Bath How-To


Want to try a contrast bath? Here’s what you’ll need:








Important Considerations





Assemble the necessary materials



Ensure treatment room is warm and free of drafts



Explain the procedure to the patient



Check the patient’s pulse



Assist the patient as necessary



Place area to be treated in hot water (about 103° to 105° F or 39°C to 41°C) and quickly increase temperature to the highest you intend to use for that treatment, keeping submerged for three minutes. Be careful not to burn the patient.



Place part in cold water for 30 seconds to one minute



Check the patient’s pulse every five minutes; apply cold compress to neck and ice bag to heart if needed



Change the water six to eight times. Always end with cold water except when treating rheumatoid arthritis, in which case finish with hot water. Total treatment time should be 20 to 30 minutes.



Dry the patient thoroughly and give cooling measures if needed. Encourage  the patient to rest for at least half an hour.



Contrast Shower

Another way to achieve the benefits of hot-cold contrast treatment is by taking a hot-cold shower, also known as a contrast shower. Alternate 1-2 minutes of very hot water with about 15-30 seconds of cold. Repeat this process two to three times and finish with cold. Dry thoroughly with a towel. Having a hot-cold shower daily can help strengthen your immune system.6



Cold Sheet Bath (Adapted from Dr. Richard Schulze) 

The cold sheet bath is a very powerful treatment. Do not do this alone - be sure to have a close friend or family member stay with you. Follow the procedure instructions and have faith that God will bless your efforts. 





Ensure an easily-accessible bed is covered with plastic. Lay a clean sheet or two atop the plastic. Have extra blankets nearby.



Fill the large bowl or basin with ice and ice water. Fully submerge a cotton sheet in the bowl. Let it soak. 



Fill a bathtub with hot water. It must be as hot as you can stand it. You don’t want to burn, but you want to be very hot.



Remove all your clothes and submerge yourself in the water. 



Soak in the tub for 20-30 minutes. Your assistant should be on standby with plenty of fluids (water or herbal tea) for you to drink. It’s best if they can stay in the room with you.



Get out of the bath. Your assistant will help. They will also wrap you in the sheet you had soaking in ice water. 



Get into the bed you’ve prepared with plastic. Have your assistant cover you well with blankets. 



Try to stay wrapped up for a few hours. 



Doing hydrotherapy at home is easy, requires no special equipment, and has many health benefits. A contrast bath or shower is a great way to stimulate your body’s natural defense system and in some instances, provide relief from pain. Be sure to check with a healthcare practitioner before using a hydrotherapy treatment to be certain it’s right for you. 





Recommended Resources

Learn more about hydrotherapy and discover hot and cold fomentations and view a live demonstration of how to use these powerful healing tools.

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