Sometimes we forget what ancient cultures had very clear: water purifies, heals, detoxifies and releases.
By Walter Raymond
Something as simple and pleasant as walking by the sea, barefoot, and with water below the knees for five minutes, can change our reality, in the same way that the morning ritual of washing the face with cold water benefits our body. The secret to these simple actions lies in the controlled activation of our skin’s thermal receptors, which produce a cascade effect on the circulatory and neurohormonal systems.
Walking by the sea, barefoot, and with water below the knees, for five minutes, can change our reality.
The magical interaction of human beings with water
Virtually, all ancient civilizations were aware of the beneficial effects of water on the organism. Mesopotamian cultures as well as the Persian, Indian and Chinese civilizations, and especially Scandinavian, Celtic and Germanic cultures, attributed mystical and healing properties to water.
In ancient Greece, purifying rituals with water were practiced in honor of Asclepius (Aesculapius to the Romans), the god of medicine. Hippocrates recommended hydrotherapy and the poet Homer mentions water several times in his famous works. In Roman civilization, water therapy took on a very prominent place.
The impressive facilities and bas-reliefs in the Diocletian and Trajan Baths reveal the importance of hydrotherapy as a healthy preventive practice. Later, while Arab cultures maintained their high regard for water, in medieval Europe, the liquid element lost momentum until the 18th century.
The resurgence of treatments based on water at different temperatures was centered in eastern Germany, where the small towns of the region took advantage of their thermal resources. The abbot Sebastian Kneipp, known as "water doctor" was inspired by writings and previous experiences to develop the Kneipp Method, a pillar of modern hydrotherapy.
Illustration from Sebastian Kneipp's book.
The basics of the Kneipp Method
The Kneipp Method argues that disease occurs when humans are weakened by a poor nutrition and a way of life away from the natural rhythms. It points out harmful elements such as the inability to adapt to the environment (pollution and stress), physical inactivity, processed foods, the state of constant anxiety and drug or medication abuse. The action of hydrotherapy and movement therapy, along with elements of herbal medicine, dietary and general treatments provides mental and physical equilibrium.
Hydrotherapy involves localized or total body applications alternating hot or cold water. Cold water has the function of stripping the superfluous body heat, forcing the body to restore its natural order and rid itself of unhealthy elements as fats and toxins, as well as noxious mental states.
Relaxing walk on the beach.
Meditation complements the Kneipp Method.
The Kneipp Method includes the activation of temperature contrasts (cold - heat), which contracts and dilates blood vessels, thus stimulating the neuro-vegetative, hormonal and immune systems. It also incorporates some properties of plants through teas, juices, and compresses, emphasizing the importance of an adequate and moderate diet. And let us not forget the pleasure of movement through active exercises or walks. Finally, meditation helps to achieve the much-desired balance between body and mind.
Active exercises or walks enhance the benefits of the Kneipp Method.
The science behind it
Scientists believe that the benefits obtained through hydrotherapy reside in the systematic application of various thermal, mechanical and even chemical stimuli on the body. They note that stimulating the expansion/constriction reaction of the blood vessels increases the circulation. This, in turn, promotes the elimination of harmful substances, enhances hormone secretion and strengthens the immune and nervous systems, thus improving a mental state of relaxation and wellbeing.