An Analysis of Hydrotherapy

Essay by TianyafaithUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2007

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The awareness of the healing potential of water as a therapeutic resource is aged. The ancient Romans understood its value to heal, hydrate and sustain life and created many public bathhouses for therapeutic use. By the time the ancient Greek civilization was established, the use of water as a healing resource was well known (Bettman, 1956). The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, promoted the healthful effects of taking a bath and the Roman regimen also acknowledged its value for good health and hygiene (Schiff, 2001). The ancestors of many cultures used Hydrotherapy techniques, also called Hydrotherapeutics or Hydropathy (Beamon & Falkenbach, 2004) and its value became better known with the first textbook on hydrotherapy, written by an English physician named John Floyer in 1697 (Schiff, 2001). In Germany during the nineteenth century, Vincenz Priessnitz (1799-1851) and a Bavarian monk, Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) established independent Hydrotherapy Centres declaring that water would "dissolve, remove and strengthen"; that water could dissolve matter suppressing disease, remove the disease from the body while strengthening the body by restoring clean blood to the tissues and maximizing circulation (Griffin, 2003).

In 1900, Hydrotherapy gained some scientific acceptance when J. H. Kellogg, a medical doctor, published his book, Rational Hydrotherapy, which became the definitive work on the subject (Barron, 2003). He documented numerous research experiments on the therapeutic effects of water, capturing the interest of incalculable readers, promoting and signifying its value in the medical field. His book is still used today by many practitioners who are learning the rudiments of Hydrotherapy as part of their training.

The practitioners most often associated with hydrotherapy today are naturopaths. The education of naturopathic doctors (NDs) follows a path similar to that of medical doctors (MDs). Applicants enter naturopathic medical school after receiving a baccalaureate degree (usually pre-med) where they complete...