Hydrotherapy Hub

Science • Education • Networking • Tools


Frequently Asked Questions

What is hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is the therapeutic use of water to aid in the health and healing of the body. Hydrotherapy uses water in all forms – steam, ice, hot and cold – to cause physiological reactions which help to enhance the immune system, improve circulation, detoxify the body, and promote healing. Some examples of hydrotherapy treatments include hot foot bath, fomentations for the chest (hot and moist compress) followed by cold mitten friction, hot and cold packs, steam inhalation, sitz baths, and alternate hot and cold contrast showers.


How does hydrothermal therapy differ from hydrotherapy?

The terms hydrothermal therapy and hydrotherapy are often used interchangeably by health care professionals. Hydrothermal therapy specifically refers to the use of steam and hot water temperature to achieve certain physiological effects, such as raising the body temperature. For example, heat causes vasodilation and increases blood flow to the skin and muscles and cold stimulates vasoconstriction and sends blood away from the surface of the skin. The result is an improvement in circulation, alleviation of pain and discomfort, and boosting of the immune system. There are other sources which describe in greater detail the physiological effects of hydrothermal therapy. Please refer to Hydrothermal Therapy Resources for these.

What are some of the benefits of hydrotherapy or hydrothermal therapy?
  • Improves circulation
  • Soothes aches and pains
  • Generates a deeper sleep
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Relieves sinus congestion
  • Aids in muscle recovery
  • Increases metabolism
  • Results in long-term pain relief
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Reinforces natural defenses
  • Releases endorphins

Hydrothermal therapy can be used for many different conditions, including: anxiety, back pain, circulatory problems,, fever, infectious respiratory diseases, to improve circulation and as a general tonic, and for many other conditions.  

How has hydrotherapy been used in the past?

The use of the external application of water in the treatment of disease has been recorded during ancient Rome and the time of Hippocrates. Over 140 years ago, the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan was known world-wide for its expertise in providing hydrotherapy treatments. Under the leadership of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, hydrotherapy was developed and utilized extensively during the early 1900s. 

During the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, multiple Seventh-day Adventist sanitariums provided hydrotherapy treatments. Anecdotal reports from Seventh-day Adventist campus academies and colleges, sanitariums, and records from Douglas County, Georgia indicated that patients suffering from the Spanish flu who were treated with chest fomentations (a type of hydrotherapy) were more likely to survive as compared with patients who did not receive these treatments. See the article: “Concerned About Covid-19? Hydrotherapy May Play a Role!https://www.adventistworld.org/concerned-hydrotherapy-may-play-a-role/

With the advent of antibiotics, the use of hydrotherapy to treat disease is currently very limited in most hospital settings. However, hydrotherapy is used extensively in lifestyle centers such as Uchee Pines Institute, Wildwood Lifestyle Center, Weimar Institute, and other centers as a routine part of the care provided.


Who should enroll?

Our online courses are designed for those with a prerequisite knowledge of the Seventh-day Adventist health and gospel message and who desire to be equipped to be a medical missionary in service to others. We invite healthcare professionals across all disciplines as well as church members who do not have a healthcare background to enroll. 

Do I need special education and training to administer hydrothermal therapy?

Yes, there are safety issues that need to be considered before administering hydrothermal therapy. Additionally, there are indications and contraindications for using hydrothermal therapy and these should be considered before treatments. Hydrotherapy or hydrothermal therapy should be administered by persons trained and skilled in providing these treatments. 

There are uses of steam, ice, hot and cold water that may be carefully and safely done at home for basic concerns such as coughs, colds, and pain relief. But just like you would not put a Band-Aid on a fracture, you should not use hydrotherapy for serious health conditions without consulting a health professional. There are certain indications and contraindications for which hydrotherapy should not be used or should be used in conjunction with other medical treatments by a trained healthcare professional. In our courses, we focus on simple hydrotherapy modalities that you may use for basic concerns at home. More advanced hydrotherapy or hydrothermal therapy should be administered by persons trained and skilled in providing these treatments. Hydrotherapy Hub and other ministries are working to make this more advanced training available.


Is hydrothermal therapy being used in the treatment of COVID-19?

Yes. Hydrothermal therapy is being used by some groups in the treatment of acute COVID-19 infection. It is also being used preventatively (prior to infection) to attempt to reduce the risk of developing a severe case should COVID-19 infection be caught. As of January 2021, there was as yet no standard for the treatment of COVID-19 infection and many treatments are based on a theoretical understanding and remain experimental. While the body of research for hydrothermal therapy and COVID-19 infection is currently limited, hydrothermal therapy is likely most effective early in the course of COVID-19 before the onset of severe COVID-19 infection. It may also be helpful as a preventive strategy. 


As Prevention: The onset of an acute respiratory infection was significantly less likely in those assigned to sauna use during a 6 month trial as opposed to those who weren’t. (E. Ernst, E. Pecho, P. Wirz & T. Saradeth (1990) Regular Sauna Bathing and the Incidence of Common Colds, Annals of Medicine, 22:4, 225-227). Regular sauna bathing  is very common in Scandinavian countries and may have contributed to the reduced incidence of COVID-19 infection in Finland, for example, during the pandemic. Contrast showers also serve to stimulate the immune system in a similar way and both sauna use and contrast showers are thought to be helpful by “exercising” the immune system in preparation for exposure to an actual infection. 


Mild-Moderate COVID-19: Hydrothermal therapy is most often used for mild to moderate COVID-19 infection. Initiating treatment as soon as symptoms develop that are suggestive of a flu-like illness or upper respiratory infection is the most likely to be effective. Treatment should not be delayed in order to seek out confirmation of a diagnosis of COVID-19; though while the pandemic is active, a diagnosis should be sought if available. 


Severe COVID-19: Patients with severe COVID-19 infection in the ICU who had acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and reported a fever >= 39 degrees C were 60% less likely to die than those who did not develop a fever, although those with a fever were 75% more likely to develop ARDS (Wu, Chaomin, et al. “Risk factors associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome and death in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 pneumonia in Wuhan, China.” JAMA internal medicine (2020)). The benefit of hydrothermal therapy in the severe stage of the disease is uncertain, and further research is needed in this area.    

Note: If you or your family member have COVID-19, and develop shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, persistent or uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea, excessive sleepiness, or other symptoms of concern, please do not delay seeking medical attention…https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html


How can I spread the word about Hydrotherapy Hub in my area?

If you would like to receive a promotional kit containing email template, poster, bulletin inserts, and social media graphics to promote our upcoming courses in your local area, contact us at [email protected].