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Water and Good Health
(Part 3 of 6)
WATER'S EFFECTS AND USE IN TREATMENT
Water benefits the body in many different ways. When taken by mouth, some of it is absorbed from the intestines and enters the bloodstream to increase its volume. The size of the blood vessels is thus increased (although they are never expanded to their fullest extent), due to an increase in the volume of their contents. The blood becomes more fluid, and as a result the circulation is quickened.
Except for air, water is the most transient substance taken into the body. It is eliminated in four ways: through the lungs, skin, kidneys, and intestines. By its solvent action, the poisons that have been eliminated by the tissue cells are dissolved and then excreted. When the volume of blood is increased, more water comes in contact with the waste matter in every part of the body. Thus, undesirable waste is removed. This is shown by an increase in urinary output and increased activity of the skin (perspiration).
Abundant water drinking increases elimination by the mucous membrane lining of the intestinal tract, an important organ of excretion. The result of this increased activity is that the contents of the intestines become more fluid, thus helping to correct the common problem of constipation. It also removes from the blood some of its poisonous waste material, rendering the blood cleaner for the building up of tissues. In this way both elimination and repair are aided.
The use of water assists in all the vital processes by increasing the renewal of tissues. It is a false idea that bathing renders a person more susceptible to colds. Colds are caused by a disturbance of the circulation. Frequent bathing makes the skin more active, thereby increasing the circulation. A person who takes a daily cold morning bath increases his immunity against colds and is not nearly so susceptible to changes in temperature. Colds contracted after bathing result from not taking proper precautions during and after the bath.
Disease does not exist without some disturbance in the circulation. In health, each part of the body receives its necessary share of blood. Therefore, in any disease, one of the first things to do is to balance the circulation. Prolonged applications of cold water contract the tiny blood vessels and thus the amount of blood in the part is lessened. The same may sometimes be accomplished by applying hot water to some distant part of the body so that the surplus blood will be drawn there and thus relieve the diseased organ.
Applications of heat may be applied to a part where there is not enough blood. At the same time you can apply a cold application to some other part of the body. This will help to send more blood to the deficient area. Very often hot and cold applications can be combined advantageously, because one part of the body cannot contain too much blood without some other part being deprived of its due portion.
Regulation of body temperature is closely associated with circulation, and the two are controlled by the same remedies given in the same way. A part that becomes inflamed and contains to much blood usually causes a fever. A cold application will relieve this.
When you wish to reduce the temperature of any part, the water must not be extremely cold. Use warm or tepid water just a few degrees below body temperature. This can be continued for some time without injury, until the temperature is reduced to normal. Many times one or more organs become torpid or inactive, the skin and liver in particular. When the blood vessels become inactive and distended, congestion results. Alternate hot and cold applications, continued for thirty minutes, will relieve congestion more quickly than any other remedy. Fomentation's given as hot as can be tolerated, with cold sponging and drying between each fomentation, is the best method for giving hot and cold treatments.
Pain may be caused by a disturbance of the circulation because the overfilled blood vessels exert pressure upon the nerves. Relief will be obtained from hot applications, which relax the tissues. The nerve fibers will be relieved of pressure, and the circulation will then be stimulated so as to relieve the congestion. In some conditions, such as acute sprains and strains and acute bursitis, a local application of cold may give more relief from pain than applying heat.
A large number of diseases are caused by obstruction of the various organs. Usually the obstruction is due to the accumulation of natural waste products from the tissues or the ingestion of foreign materials, such as one absorbs in hard or indigestible food. A warm bath opens the pores and removes external obstruction, while water taken by mouth will relieve internal obstruction, because it is the best solvent that we have. Obstruction in the stomach may be removed by emetics. Obstruction in the bowels may be removed by enemas.
With fever, cholera, etc., the blood is usually abnormally thick. This causes slow circulation and the tissues do not obtain proper nourishment. There is nothing as good as water to remedy this condition. If water will not stay in the stomach when taken by mouth, some can be absorbed through the skin by lying in a tub of water of the proper temperature, depending on the difficulty. Hot and cold fomentation's applied to the abdomen, with a hot foot-bath and a cold compress to the head, will often relieve headache. They seem to affect the whole system. Fomentation's applied to the abdomen and spine will relieve general nervousness and numerous other ailments. A full, warm bath may be given with equal success.
Water is one of the most powerful means of causing a reaction throughout the entire body in either health or disease. The blood vessels to each organ of the body can be controlled through a reflex arc by the stimulation of a certain area on the skin. For example, the blood vessels overlying the brain can be contracted by taking a hot foot-bath or dilated by placing a cold pack on the lower part of the spine.
EFFECTS OF COLD WATER
The application of cold water to the skin for a short period of time (one to three minutes) will cause the small blood vessels in the area where the cold is applied to contract and the skin will therefore appear pale. The colder the application, the more raped and complete the contraction will be. Within a few minutes after the cold is removed a reaction will set in and the vessels will dilate, bringing more blood to the area, producing a feeling of warmth and a health blush to the skin. Rubbing the skin while the cold is being applied, as in a cold mitten friction rub, will enhance the effects of the cold water. If cold is applied at a more moderate temperature (70* F. To 80* F.) for a longer period of time (over five to eight minutes), the vessels in the skin will dilate, while those supplying the internal organs will contract.
When the blood vessels in the skin contract, the blood is forced deep into the internal organs. Just the opposite effect takes place when the surface vessels relax and dilate. The blood is then drawn from the internal organs to the skin. If any of the organs are congested or inflamed, more blood is removed from them than from the healthy organs, in this way relieving the congestion. In any application of cold, the organ nearest the point of application will be affected to the greatest extent.
Prolonged exposure of the body to cold depresses all of the normal physiological reactions in the body, while a short contact of the entire body with cold acts as a general stimulant to all the vital functions, through the action of the central nervous system. Digestive processes, elimination, urine production, respiration, muscle tone, pulse rate, and even some of the endocrine glands such as the thyroid, are all stimulated to greater activity. There is also and increase in the red and white blood corpuscles and in the hemoglobin. It is better to make the application warmer at first and then decrease the temperature gradually so that there will not be a shock or a chilly feeling, and the same results will be obtained. This applies especially to nervous persons, as the sudden application of cold is always a shock. A great many times the body temperature is reduced even though the skin glows and feels warmer. The only accurate way to determine temperature is with a thermometer. It is probably best not to use cold applications at all in persons who are very ill or tired, or in those who dislike or dread cold treatments, or in those who have severe kidney or heart trouble. Before starting any cold treatment, the person should feel warm and not cold or even chilly.
It is important to remember that some people may react poorly to cold, especially if extreme cold is used. In such cases, it is better to stop the treatment or use water at a more moderate temperature.
EFFECTS OF HOT WATER
Hot baths or applications should be given above a temperature of 98* F. A short local application of heat causes dilatation of the blood vessels with increased circulation to the part. As with cold water, the effects differ according to the length of the application.
Intense heat acts at first to stimulate the body, but if it is continued a definite depressive reaction occurs. A full hot bath causes an increased pulse rate. A bath given from 106* F. to 108* F. will increase the pulse from normal to between 100 to 120 beats per minute in a short time. A bath several degrees hotter, up to 112*F., will increase the pulse to more than 150 beats per minute. When the pulse increases to between 80 and 85 beats per minute during the treatment, an ice bag should be placed over the heart. When giving an extremely hot bath, always apply a cold compress to the head, and sponge the entire body with cool water every fifteen or twenty minutes. This will avert faintness. Extremely hot baths are seldom required. It is better, as a rule, to have the water temperature around 102* F. Don't forget to end each hot treatment with some kind of a cool or cold application, in order to close the pores in the skin and reduce the chance of chilling. This will also help to restore the normal alkaline reaction of the blood that applications of heat tend to lower.
There are very few agents that will so rapidly and powerfully excite and stimulate the body metabolism as a short hot bath. The undesirable results of hot baths are due to irrational or incautious use. But these same results are proof of their power.
EFFECTS OF WARM WATER
The temperature of a warm bath is between 92* and 98* F. A warm bath never exceeds the temperature of the body. Warm baths decrease the temperature and pulse as do cold baths, but they differ in that there is no shock when taking a warm bath. Therefore, it is not followed by any undesirable reaction. The blood pressure is also decreased.
Warm baths greatly increase the activity of the skin, through perspiration and absorption. When a warm bath is continued for two or three hours, the body weight will be increased as the skin absorbs some of the water. The general effects of a warm bath are mild and soothing, doubtless because of the close approximation to the normal body temperature. It provides favorable conditions for the performance of the natural bodily functions.
Thus, we see that when water is applied at the proper temperature, it is the most natural and powerful means of either depressing or increasing the vital activities of the body. Water applications are wholly of a sympathetic character, and all parts of the body are closely connected by the sympathetic nerves. The skin and mucous membranes are also closely connected, as has been described.
There are many ways of administering water at any temperature, and each different temperature will produce some modification or general effect in the body.
SOURCE: "Back to Eden" by Jethro Kloss
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