water dropsThe restorative powers of hydrotherapy may not be well known outside the spa environment in our time, but the use of hydrotherapy is well documented throughout history in Egyptian, Roman, Chinese, Japanese, and many other cultures. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, prescribed bathing in spring water as a medical treatment. These traditions have continued and can be found in the practice of bathing in hot springs and cold water baths around the world today.

Constitutional hydrotherapy, a technique developed by Dr. O.G. Carroll, is particularly effective at stimulating the immune system, achieving total body detoxification, and stimulating the body’s own innate capacity to heal itself. The word “constitutional” refers to the whole-body effects of this treatment. Although useful in almost any condition, it has been found specifically well suited for the treatment of digestive concerns, respiratory diseases, female reproductive problems, immune system balancing, circulatory conditions, neurological conditions, and environmental toxicity.

What to Expect

The treatment of constitutional hydrotherapy involves the placement of alternating hot and cold moist towels over the upper torso. The person is then wrapped in a sheet and covered with blankets. Gentle electrical muscle stimulation is applied to the back and stomach to enhance the circulatory effects.

How it Works

Hydrotherapy works so well because it acts to stimulate the body’s own healing force. The combination of alternating hot and cold applications with the use of physiotherapy devices enhances the immune response, improves the body’s capacity to absorb and utilize nutrients, encourages the removal of cellular and environmental wastes. It also promotes a healthy balance between the two parts of our autonomic nervous system, the “fight or flight” or sympathetic system and the “rest and digest” or parasympathetic systems, which regulate all our bodily processes. As such it both detoxifies and tonifies at the same time.

A lymphatic and circulatory pump is created by successively dilating and constricting blood vessels in response to the alternating application of hot and cold water. A reflexive increase in blood flow occurs in internal organs when the circulation to the overlying skin is stimulated in this manner. This process increases circulation through the liver, skin, kidneys, lungs, abdominal, and pelvic organs. It is this internal response to the alternating towels which is responsible for the long lasting and cumulative effects of a series of hydrotherapy treatments.

Research studies conducted at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and Windrose Naturopathic Clinic have shown that constitutional hydrotherapy can raise a low basal body temperature, moderate low or high blood sugar, and moderate high or low blood pressure. Remarkably, a significant increase in white blood cell counts is seen within 2 to 8 hours after only 1 hydrotherapy session. This is a rapid and natural way to boost your immune function.


Please consult your naturopathic doctor to see if this type of treatment is an appropriate part of your health treatment plan. During a course of hydrotherapy, some people may experience fever, aches, pains, fatigue, and/or other discomforts as part of their healing process. If any of these symptoms occur, please inform your naturopathic doctor immediately so that they may adjust your treatments as necessary.