Hydrotherapy is a well-known and ancient form of therapy. Many books have been written on the subject, but in my opinion the form of hydrotherapy suggested by Kuhne is simple and effective. Kuhneís book on nature cure is very popular in India. Andhra has the greatest number of Kuhneís followers. He has written a good deal about diet as well, but here I wish to confine myself to his experiments in hydrotherapy.
Hip bath and sitz bath are the most
important of Kuhneís contribution to hydrotherapy. He has devised a
special tub for use though one can do without it. Any tub thirty to
thirty six inches long according to the patientís height generally
serves the purpose. Experience will indicate the proper size. The tub
should be filled with fresh cold water so that it dose not overflow when
the patient sits in it. In summer the water may be iced, if it is not
cold enough, to give a gentle shock to the patient. Generally, water
kept in earthen jars overnight answers the purpose. Water can also be
cooled by putting a piece of cloth on the surface of the water and then
fanning it vigorously. The tub should be kept against the bathroom wall
and a plank put in the tub to serve as back rest. The patient should sit
in the tub keeping his feet outside. Portions of the body outside the
water should be kept well covered so that the patient does not feel
cold. After the patient is comfortably seated in the tub, gentle
friction should be taken for live to thirty minutes. When it is over,
the body should be rubbed dry and the patient put to bed.
Hip bath brings down the temperature in
high fever and given in the manner described above it never does any
harm, and may do much good. It relieves constipation and improves
digestion. The patient feels fresh and active after it. In cases of
constipation, Kuhne advises a brisk walk for half an hour immediately
after the bath. It should never be given on a full stomach.
I have tried hip baths on a fairly large
scale. They have proved efficacious in more than 75 cases out of 100. In
case of hyperpyrexia, if the patientís condition permits of his being
seated in the tub, the temperature immediately invariably falls at least
by two to three degrees and, the onset of delirium is averted.
The rationale of the hip bath according to
Kuhne is this. What ever the apparent cause of fever, the real cause in
every case is one and the same, i.e. accumulation of waste matter in the
intestines. The heat generated by the putrefaction of this waste matter
is manifested in the form of fever and several other ailments. Hip bath
brings down this internal fever so that fever and other ailments which
are the external manifestations there of subside automatically. How far
this reasoning is correct, I cannot say. It is for experts to do so.
Although the medical profession have taken up some things from nature
cure methods, on the whole they have given cold shoulder to naturopathy.
In my opinion both the parties are to be blamed for this state of
affairs. The medical professions have got into the habit of confining
themselves to whatever is included in their own curriculum. They present
an attitude of indifference, if not that of contempt, for anything that
lies outside their groove. On the other hand, the nature curists nurse a
feeling of grievance against the medicos and, in spite of their very
limited scientific knowledge they make tall claims. They lake the spirit
of organization. Each one is self-satisfied and works by himself instead
of all pooling their recourses for the advancement of their system. No
one tries to work out in a scientific spirit all the implications and
possibilities of the system. No one tries to cultivate humility, (if it
is possible to cultivate humility).
I have not said all this in order to
belittle the work of the naturopaths. As a lay co-worker I wish them to
see things in their true colour so that they may make improvements
wherever possible. It is my conviction that so long as some dynamic
personality, from among the naturopaths themselves, does not come
forward with the zeal of missionary, things will continue as they are.
Orthodox medicine has its own science, medical unions and teaching
institutions. It has too a certain measure of success. The medical
profession should not be expected to put faith, all of a sudden, in
things which are yet to be fully tested and scientifically proved.
In the meantime the public should know
that the specialty of nature cure methods lies in the fact that being
natural, they can be safety practiced by laymen. If a man, suffering
from headache, wets a piece of cloth in cold water and wraps it round
his head, it can do no harm. The addition of earth to cold water
enhances the utility of the cold pack.
Now about the size or friction bath. The
organ of reproduction is one of the most sensitive parts of the body.
There is something illusive about the sensitiveness of the glans penis
and the foreskin. Anyone, I know not how to describe it. Kuhne has made
use of this knowledge for therapeutic purposes. He advises application
of gentle friction to the outer end of the external sexual organ by
means of a soft wet piece of cloth, while cold water is being poured. In
the case of colour. The sheet used for these patients, should afterwards
be sterilized by soaking it in boiling water leaving it in it till It
cools down sufficiently and then washed with soap and water.
In cases where circulation has become
sluggish, the leg muscles feel sore and there is a peculiar ache and
feeling of discomfort in the legs, an ice massage does a lot of good.
This treatment is more effective in summer months. Massaging a weak
patient with ice in winter might prove a risky affair.
Now a few words about the therapeutics of
hot water. An intelligent use of hot water gives relief in many cases.
Application of iodine is a very popular remedy for all injuries and the
like. Application of hot water will prove equally effective in most of
these cases. Tincture of iodine is applied on swollen and bruised areas.
Hot water fomentations are likely to give equal relief, if not more.
Again, iodine drops are used in cases of earache. Irrigation of the ear
with warm water is likely to relieve the pain in most of these cases.
The use of iodine is attended with certain risks. The patient may have
allergy towards the drug. Iodine mistaken for something else and taken
internally might prove disastrous. But there is no risk whatsoever in
using hot water. Boiling water is as good a disinfectant as tincture of
iodine. I do not mean to belittle the usefulness of iodine is one of he
few drugs which I regard most useful and necessary, but if is an
expensive thing. The poor cannot afford to buy it and moreover its use
cannot be safely entrusted to everybody. But water is available
everywhere. We may not despise its therapeutic value because it is
obtained so easily. Knowledge of common household remedies often proves
a godsend in many crisis.
In cases of scorpion bite where all
remedies have failed, immersion of the part in hot water has been found
to relieve the pain to a certain extent.
A shivering fit or a rigor can be made to
subside by putting buckets of hot boiling water all round the patient
who is well wrapped up or by saturating the atmosphere of the room with
steam by some other device. A rubber hot water bag is a most useful
thing, but it is not to found in every household. A glass bottle with a
well fitting cork, filled with hot water and wrapped in a piece of
cloth, serves the same purpose. Care should be taken to choose bottles
that will not crack on hot water being poured into them.
Stream is a more valuable therapeutic
agent. It can be used to make the patient sweat. Steam bath are most
useful incases of rheumatism and other joint-pains. The easiest as well
as the oldest method of taking steam bath is this. Spread a blanket or
two on a sparsely but tightly woven cot and put one or two covered
vessels full with boiling water under it. Make the patient lie flat on
the cot and cove him up in such away that ends of the covering blankets
touch the ground and thus prevent the steam from escaping and the
outside air from getting in. After arranging everything as above, the
lid from the vessels containing boiling water is removed and steam soon
gets on to the patient lying between the blankets. It may necessary to
change the water once or twice. Usually in India people keep an angithi
under the pots to keep the water boiling. This ensures continuous
discharge of steam, but is attended with risk of accidents. A single
spark might set fire to the blankets or to the cot and endanger the
patientís life. Therefore, it is advisable to use the method described
by me even though it might seem slow and tedious.
Some people add neem leaves or other herbs
to the water used for generating steam. I do not know If such an
addition increases the efficiency of steam. I do not know if such an
addition increases the efficiency of steam. The object is to induce
sweat and that is attained by mere steam.
In cases of cold feet and legs, the
patient should be made to sit with his fit and legs immersed up to the
knees in as hot water as he can bear. A little mustard powder can be
added to the water. The foot bath should not last for more than fifteen
minutes. This treatment improves the local circulation and gives
In cases of common cold and sore throat a
steam kettle which is very much like an ordinary tea kettle with a long
nozzle can be used for applying steam to the nose or throat. A rubber
tube of required length can be attached to any ordinary kettle for this