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Could this really wash away asthma and back pain?

  • Why good health has a wet history
  • Discover how water can help an asthma sufferer
  • The 19th Century monk who had a major influence on modern medicine

Previously I have written about the possibility that cold water swimming could help prevent dementia. If you missed it click here

I was pleased with your responses.

Many of you wrote in to tell me of other ways that this kind of water therapy can help with a range of problems.

Using water to treat health conditions is nothing new, even though it is now widely available in mainstream medicine as hydrotherapy, the practice can be traced back to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, even described immersing those with fever into freezing cold water then wrapping them tightly in blankets.

Mind you this practice is still widely used and claimed to be very effective.

I find all of this fascinating especially when you look at how water can be used in numerous ways to offer health benefits.

My interest in this therapy was reawakened by a request from a friend after last week's letter.

He suffers with asthma and challenged me to find something 'genuinely weird, useful and interesting' that they could try to relieve their problems.


Weird, useful, and interesting?


That's hardly a challenge for an information obsessive like myself.

My search led me to several descriptions of how to treat the condition naturally which I have summarised below;



Drink hot water and lemon juice each morning. Inhale steam and use tepid, fan shower sprays, directed to the areas below the ribs, to the pit of the stomach (midline), to the midline of the back, and the sides of the chest.



Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of warm water. Sponge the child with this solution, starting with the back and the chest. Expose only one part of the body at a time. Completely envelop the child in the light flannel blanket and put him to bed under light covers. The blanket 'compress' will help the body produce warmth, and the spasm will lessen. Follow these procedures for a week following the attack.


During an attack


There are several water treatments which have been shown to ease the constricting spasm.

A herbal vapour tent will relieve the problem, but an even more effective treatment is a series of water treatments that act to draw blood away from the troubled area into another region of the body.

Several applications will accomplish this rerouting of the blood.

  • Apply an ice compress to the back of the head. Also, take a hot footbath. Add mustard powder for additional effect.
  • Immerse hands in hot water for several seconds.
  • Apply a hot moist compress, an apple cider vinegar compress, or a hot hayflower compress over the entire bronchial area. When the compress loses its heat, wash the body with bricks sectional sponging. Replace the cloths ever 15 minutes, or whenever cool.
  • If you cannot lie down for the chest application, apply the hot vinegar compress on the stomach and walk around. As soon as the warmth is generate in the stomach, it warms the chest and diverts the blood downwards.

Modern Hydrotherapy

Far from being used purely by alternative therapists it appears that using water based treatment is now widely practiced.

Particularly for dealing with musculo-skeletal problems like bad backs, hips and knees.

Simply getting into a swimming pool, wading out to the point that the water supports your weight and then trying to run will help all of the joints in the back, pelvis, hips, knees and ankles.

This is because you are using all of the muscles and actions you would if you were on dry land, but without any impact on the joints or compression from the body.

If you don’t fancy a trip to the local baths (assuming the COVID restrictions locally allow it!) then you can help lower back pain by using your own bathtub.

Agatha Thrash, M.D., a medical pathologist and co-founder and co-director of Uchee Pines Institute in Alabama, suggests that a simple shallow bath can work wonders on the pain - but you MUST use a certain sequence.


Fill your bathtub with enough warm water to cover the lower part of your back, then soak for 20 minutes. After the bath, get in the shower and douse yourself with the warm temperature water, gradually turning it cool. The muscles in your lower body will expand and contract and the nerve could loosen up.

This alternation of warm and cool water is often attributed to Father Sebastian Kneipp, a 19th-century Bavarian monk, and he is widely regarded as the father of modern hydrotherapy. Kneipp's use of alternating hot and cold water, called contrast hydrotherapy is recommended by many physiotherapist and osteopaths.

According to proponents of hydrotherapy, hot and cold water induce physiologic changes that are beneficial to human health. Among them:

  • Hot water causes superficial blood vessels to dilate, activating sweat glands, loosening joints, and removing toxic wastes from tissues.
  • Cold water causes superficial blood vessels to constrict, moving blood flow away from an affected area to relieve inflammation.

It is all really interesting stuff.

By the way for anyone who was worried that I was about to dip Dad in the Bristol Channel please be assured that he is perfectly safe and well... for now!

Yours, as always



P.S. We’ve just had a fresh delivery of our vitamin C & vitamin D six month packs, so if you want to ensure that you have everything you need for this autumn and winter and save money too – click here