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Title: Hydrotherapy  
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Hubbard Tub with wooden patient lift.
ICD-9-CM 93.31-93.33

Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy, is a part of medicine and alternative medicine, in particular of naturopathy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. The term encompasses a broad range of approaches and therapeutic methods that take advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.[1]

Various therapies used in the present-day hydrotherapy employ water jets, underwater massage and mineral baths (e.g. balneotherapy, Iodine-Grine therapy, Kneipp treatments, Scotch hose, Swiss shower, thalassotherapy) and/or whirlpool bath, hot Roman bath, hot tub, Jacuzzi, cold plunge and mineral bath.


  • Uses 1
  • Reasons to avoid 2
  • Technique 3
  • Society and culture 4
  • History 5
    • Modern revival of hydrotherapy 5.1
    • Spread of hydrotherapy 5.2
    • Hot baths 5.3
    • Spread to the United States 5.4
    • Recent techniques 5.5
  • For animals 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10


Water therapy may be restricted to use in physical therapy, and as a cleansing agent. However, it is also used as a medium for delivery of heat and cold to the body, which has long been the basis for its application. Hydrotherapy involves a range of methods and techniques, many of which use water as a medium to facilitate thermoregulatory reactions for therapeutic benefit.

Practitioners of hydrotherapy may seek use it to produce vasodilation and vasoconstriction.[2] These cause changes in blood flow and associated metabolic functions, via physiological mechanisms, including those of thermoregulation,[3] that are these days fairly well understood, and which underpin the contemporary use of hydrotherapy.[4][5]

When removal of tissue is necessary for the treatment of wounds, hydrotherapy which performs selective mechanical debridement can be used.[6] Examples of this include directed wound irrigation and therapeutic irrigation with suction.[6]

It continues to be used as an adjunct to therapy, including in nursing, where its use is now long established.[5][7][8] It continues to be widely used for burn treatment,[9][10] although shower-based hydrotherapy techniques have been increasingly used in preference to full-immersion methods,[10] partly for the ease of cleaning the equipment and reducing infections due to contamination.[11]

Hydrotherapy is used today in alternative medicine.[12]

Reasons to avoid

Baths with whirlpool water flow should not be used to manage wounds because a whirlpool will not selectively target the tissue to be removed and can damage all tissue.[6] Whirlpools also create an unwanted risk of bacterial infection, can damage fragile body tissue, and in the case of treating arms and legs, bring risk of complications from edema.[6]


The appliances and arrangements by means of which heat and cold are brought to bear are (a) packings, hot and cold, general and local, sweating and cooling; (b) hot air and steam baths; (c) general baths, of hot water and cold; (d) sitz (sitting), spinal, head and foot baths; (e) bandages (or compresses), wet and dry; also (f) fomentations and poultices, hot and cold, sinapisms, stupes, rubbings and water potations, hot and cold.[4][13][14]

Hydrotherapy which involves submerging all or part of the body in water can involve several types of equipment:

  • Full body immersion tanks (a "Hubbard tank" is a large size)
  • Arm, hip, and leg whirlpool

Whirling water movement, provided by mechanical pumps, has been used in water tanks since at least the 1940s. Similar technologies have been marketed for recreational use under the terms "hot tub" or "spa".

Society and culture

Modern medicine's successes, particularly with drug therapy, removed or replaced many water-related therapies during the mid-20th century.

While the physiological mechanisms were initially poorly understood, the therapeutic benefits have long been recognised, even if the reason for the therapeutic benefit was in dispute. For example, in November 1881, the British Medical Journal noted that hydropathy was a specific instance, or "particular case", of general principles of thermodynamics. That is, "the application of heat and cold in general", as it applies to physiology, mediated by hydropathy.[15] In 1883, another writer stated "Not, be it observed, that hydropathy is a water treatment after all, but that water is the medium for the application of heat and cold to the body".[16] Thus, the "active agents in the treatment (are) heat and cold", of which water is little more than the vehicle, and not the only one".[14]

Although standard anatomy and physiology textbooks make only passing reference, if any, to hydrotherapy, some of the best descriptions of the underlying physiology upon which hydrotherapy relies, are to be found in such textbooks. For example, one of the best succinct descriptions of blood redistribution (which is fundamental to the above-mentioned reflex reaction), quoted below, is from a standard textbook. constricting or dilating arterioles in specific areas of the body, such as skeletal muscles, the skin, and the abdominal region, it is possible not only to regulate the blood pressure but also to alter the distribution of blood in various parts of the body.[17]

British and other hydrotherapy establishments are discussed from another standpoint in a recent history of psychiatry.[18]

Before World War II, various forms of hydrotherapy were used to treat alcoholism.[19][20][21][22][23] The basic text of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship, Alcoholics Anonymous, reports that A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson was treated by hydrotherapy for his alcoholism in the early 1930s.[24]

The use of water to treat rheumatic diseases has a long history.

The growth of hydrotherapy, and various forms of hydropathic establishments, resulted in a form of tourism, both in the UK,[25][26] and in Europe. At least one book listed English, Scottish, Irish and European establishments suitable for each specific malady,[27] while another focused primarily on German spas and hydropathic establishments, but including other areas.[28] While many bathing establishments were open all year round, doctors advised patients not to go before May, "nor to remain after October. English visitors rather prefer cold weather, and they often arrive for the baths in May, and return again in September. Americans come during the whole season, but prefer summer. The most fashionable and crowded time is during July and August".[29] In Europe, interest in various forms of hydrotherapy and spa tourism continued unabated through the 19th century and into the 20th century,[30][31] where "in France, Italy and Germany, several million people spend time each year at a spa."[32] In 1891, when Mark Twain toured Europe and discovered that a bath of spring water at Aix-les-Bains soothed his rheumatism, he described the experience as "so enjoyable that if I hadn't had a disease I would have borrowed one just to have a pretext for going on".[31]

This was not the first time such forms of spa tourism had been popular in Europe and the U.K. Indeed,

in Europe, the application of water in the treatment of fevers and other maladies had, since the seventeenth century, been consistently promoted by a number of medical writers. In the eighteenth century, taking to the waters became a fashionable pastime for the wealthy classes who decamped to resorts around Britain and Europe to cure the ills of over-consumption. In the main, treatment in the heyday of the British spa consisted of sense and sociability: promenading, bathing, and the repetitive quaffing of foul-tasting mineral waters.[33]

A hydropathic establishment is a place where people receive hydropathic treatment. They are commonly built in spa towns, where mineral-rich or hot water occurs naturally.

Several hydropathic institutions wholly transferred their operations away from therapeutic purposes to become tourist hotels in the late 20th century whilst retaining the name 'Hydro'. There are several prominent examples in Scotland at Crieff, Peebles and Seamill amongst others.


Various forms of hydrotherapy have been recorded in ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Roman civilizations.[34][35][36][37][38] Egyptian royalty bathed with essential oils and flowers, while Romans had communal public baths for their citizens. Hippocrates prescribed bathing in spring water for sickness. Other cultures noted for a long history of hydrotherapy include China and Japan,[35] this latter being centred primarily around Japanese hot springs, or (onsen). Many such histories predate the Roman thermae.

Modern revival of hydrotherapy

James Currie, who, according to Captain R. T. Claridge discovered "...the merit of settling the use of cold water...[and who established] the scientific base of Hydropathy"

Two English works on the medical uses of water were published in the 18th century that inaugurated the new fashion for hydrotherapy. One of these was by Sir John Floyer, a physician of Lichfield, who, struck by the remedial use of certain springs by the neighbouring peasantry, investigated the history of cold bathing and published a book on the subject in 1702.[34] The book ran through six editions within a few years and the translation of this book into German was largely drawn upon by Dr J. S. Hahn of Silesia as the basis for his book called On the Healing Virtues of Cold Water, Inwardly and Outwardly Applied, as Proved by Experience, published in 1738.[39]

The other work was a 1797 publication by Dr James Currie of Liverpool on the use of hot and cold water in the treatment of fever and other illness, with a fourth edition published in 1805, not long before his death.[40] It was also translated into German by Michaelis (1801) and Hegewisch (1807). It was highly popular and first placed the subject on a scientific basis. Hahn's writings had meanwhile created much enthusiasm among his countrymen, societies having been everywhere formed to promote the medicinal and dietetic use of water; and in 1804 Professor E.F.C. Oertel of Anspach republished them and quickened the popular movement by unqualified commendation of water drinking as a remedy for all diseases.[41][42]

Vincenz Priessnitz, who initiated the popular revival of hydrotherapy at Gräfenberg

In the 19th century, a popular revival followed the application of hydrotherapy around 1829, by Vincenz Priessnitz, a peasant farmer in Gräfenberg, then part of the Austrian Empire.[13][36][43][44] This revival was continued by a Bavarian priest, Sebastian Kneipp (1821–1897), "an able and enthusiastic follower" of Priessnitz, "whose work he took up where Priessnitz left it",[45] after he read a treatise on the cold water cure.[46][47] In Wörishofen (south Germany), Kneipp developed the systematic and controlled application of hydrotherapy for the support of medical treatment that was delivered only by doctors at that time. Kneipp's own book My Water Cure was published in 1886 with many subsequent editions, and translated into many languages.

A significant factor in the popular revival of hydrotherapy was that it could be practised relatively cheaply at home. The growth of hydrotherapy (or 'hydropathy' to use the name of the time), was thus partly derived from two interacting spheres: "the hydro and the home".[48]

Hydrotherapy as a formal medical tool dates from about 1829 when Vincenz Priessnitz (1799–1851), a farmer of Gräfenberg in Silesia, then part of the Austrian Empire, began his public career in the paternal homestead, extended so as to accommodate the increasing numbers attracted by the fame of his cures.

At Gräfenberg, to which the fame of Priessnitz drew people of every rank and many countries, medical men were conspicuous by their numbers, some being attracted by curiosity, others by the desire of knowledge, but the majority by the hope of cure for ailments which had as yet proved incurable. Many records of experiences at Gräfenberg were published, all more or less favorable to the claims of Priessnitz, and some enthusiastic in their estimate of his genius and penetration.

Spread of hydrotherapy

Hydropathic applications according to Claridge's Hydropathy book.

Captain R. T. Claridge was responsible for introducing and promoting hydropathy in Britain, first in London in 1842, then with lecture tours in Ireland and Scotland in 1843. His 10-week tour in Ireland included Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Dublin and Belfast,[49] over June, July and August 1843, with two subsequent lectures in Glasgow.[50]

Some other Englishmen preceded Claridge to Graefenberg, although not many. One of these was Dr. James Wilson, who himself, along with Dr James Manby Gully, established and operated a water cure establishment at Malvern in 1842.[51][52] In 1843, Wilson and Gully published a comparison of the efficacy of the water-cure with drug treatments, including accounts of some cases treated at Malvern, combined with a prospectus of their Water Cure Establishment.[53][54] Then in 1846 Gully published The Water Cure in Chronic Disease, further describing the treatments available at the clinic.[55]

The fame of the water-cure establishment grew, and Gully and Wilson became well-known national figures. Two more clinics were opened at Malvern.[56] Famous patients included Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, Florence Nightingale, Lord Tennyson and Samuel Wilberforce.[53] With his fame he also attracted criticism: Sir Charles Hastings, a physician and founder of the British Medical Association, was a forthright critic of hydropathy, and Dr Gully in particular.[57]

From the 1840s, hydropathics were established across Britain. Initially, many of these were small institutions, catering to at most dozens of patients. By the later nineteenth century the typical hydropathic establishment had evolved into a more substantial undertaking, with thousands of patients treated annually for weeks at a time in a large purpose-built building with lavish facilities – baths, recreation rooms and the like – under the supervision of fully trained and qualified medical practitioners and staff.[58]

In Germany, France and America, and in Malvern, England, hydropathic establishments multiplied with great rapidity. Antagonism ran high between the old practice and the new. Unsparing condemnation was heaped by each on the other; and a legal prosecution, leading to a royal commission of inquiry, served but to make Priessnitz and his system stand higher in public estimation.

Increasing popularity soon diminished caution whether the new method would help minor ailments and be of benefit to the more seriously injured. Hydropathists occupied themselves mainly with studying chronic invalids well able to bear a rigorous regimen and the severities of unrestricted crisis. The need of a radical adaptation to the former class was first adequately recognized by John Smedley, a manufacturer of Derbyshire, who, impressed in his own person with the severities as well as the benefits of the cold water cure, practised among his workpeople a milder form of hydropathy, and began about 1852 a new era in its history, founding at Matlock a counterpart of the establishment at Gräfenberg.

Ernst Brand (1826–1897) of Berlin, Raljen and Theodor von Jürgensen of Kiel, and Karl Liebermeister of Basel, between 1860 and 1870, employed the cooling bath in abdominal typhus with striking results, and led to its introduction to England by Dr Wilson Fox. In the Franco-German War the cooling bath was largely employed, in conjunction frequently with quinine; and it was used in the treatment of hyperpyrexia.

Hot baths

Baigneuses, oil on canvas, Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)

Hydrotherapy, especially as promoted during the height of its Victorian revival, has often been associated with the use of cold water, as evidenced by many titles from that era. However, not all therapists limited their practice of hydrotherapy to cold water, even during the height of this popular revival.[14][59]

The specific use of heat was however often associated with the Turkish bath. This was introduced by David Urquhart into England on his return from the East in the 1850s,[60] and ardently adopted by Richard Barter.[61][62] The Turkish bath became a public institution, and, with the morning tub and the general practice of water drinking, is the most noteworthy of the many contributions by hydropathy to public health.

Spread to the United States

The first U.S. hydropathic facilities were established by Joel Shew[63] and R.T Trall in the 1840s.[64][65][66][67] Dr Charles Munde also established early hydrotherapy facilities in the 1850s.[68][69][70][71] Trall also co-edited the Water Cure Journal.[72]

By 1850, it was said that "there are probably more than one hundred" facilities, along with numerous books and periodicals, including the New York Water Cure Journal, which had "attained an extent of circulation equalled by few monthlies in the world".[72] By 1855, there were attempts by some to weigh the evidence of treatments in vogue at that time.[73]

Following the introduction of hydrotherapy to the U.S.,

  • Abbott, George Knapp (2007). Elements of Hydrotherapy for Nurses. Brushton, New York: Teach Services, Inc.  
  • Campion, Margaret Reid, ed. (2001. First published 1997). Hydrotherapy: Principles and Practice. Woburn, Massachusetts: Butterworth=Heineman.  
  • Cayleff, Susan E (1991). Wash and Be Healed: The Water-Cure Movement and Women's Health. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.  
  • Dail, Clarence; Thomas, Charles (1989). Hydrotherapy: Simple Treatments for Common Ailments. Brushton, New York: Teach Services, Inc.  
  • Grüber, C; Riesberg, A; Mansmann, U; Knipschild, P; Wahn, U; Bühring, M (Mar 2003). "The effect of hydrotherapy on the incidence of common cold episodes in children: a randomised clinical trial". European journal of pediatrics 162 (3): 168–76.  
  • Landewé, Rb; Peeters, R; Verreussel, Rl; Masek, Ba; Goei, The, Hs (Jan 1992). "No difference in effectiveness measured between treatment in a thermal bath and in an exercise bath in patients with rheumatoid arthritis" (Free full text). Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde 136 (4): 173–6.  
  • Sinclair, Marybetts (2008). Modern Hydrotherapy for the Massage Therapist. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  • Thrash, Agatha; Calvin Thrash (1981). Home Remedies: Hydrotherapy, Massage, Charcoal and Other Simple Treatments. Seale, Alabama: Thrash Publications.  
  • Unsigned article (1910). "Hydropathy". In …. Encyclopædia Britannica XIV. London. pp. 165–166. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 

Further reading


  1. ^ "Hydrotherapy – What is it and why aren't we doing it?". International SPA Association. Kansas. 3 October 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Kellogg, J.H., M.D., Superintendent (1908). The Battle Creek Sanitarium System. History, Organisation, Methods. Michigan: Battle Creek. Retrieved 2009-10-30.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  3. ^  
  4. ^ a b Thrash, Agatha; Calvin Thrash (1981). Home Remedies: Hydrotherapy, Massage, Charcoal and Other Simple Treatments. Seale, Alabama: Thrash Publications.  
  5. ^ a b Kozier, Barbara; Erb, Glenora; Olivieri, Rita (1991). Fundamentals of Nursing: Concepts, Process and Practice (4th ed.). Redwood City, California: Addison-Wesley. pp. 1335–1336.  
  6. ^ a b c d  
  7. ^ Pugh, W.T. Gordon; Pugh, P.D. Gordon; Pugh, Margaret S. (1962). Practical Nursing, including Hygiene, Elementary Psychology and Dietetics. Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons. 
  8. ^ Miller, Benjamin; Keane, Claire (1987).  
  9. ^ Gruber, Ronald; Laub, Donald; Vistnes, Lars (February 1975). "The effect of hydrotherapy on the clinical course and pH of experimental cutaneous chemical burns". Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 55 (2): 200–2004.  
  10. ^ a b Davison, Peter G; Loiselle, Frederick B; Nickerson, Duncan (May–June 2010). "Survey on current hydrotherapy use among North American Burn Centers". Journal of Burn Care & Research 31 (3): 393–399.  
  11. ^ Rode, H; Vale, I. Do; Millar, A.J.W (January 2009). "Burn wound infection". CME 27 (1): 26–30. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  12. ^ Trivieri, L, & Anderson, J. W. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts, 2002
  13. ^ a b Claridge, Capt. R.T. (1843). Hydropathy; or The Cold Water Cure, as practiced by Vincent Priessnitz, at Graefenberg, Silesia, Austria. (8th ed.). London: James Madden and Co. Retrieved 2009-10-29.  Full text at Internet Archive ( Note: The "Advertisement", pp.v-xi, appears from the 5th ed onwards, so references to time pertain to time as at 5th edition.
  14. ^ a b c d Unsigned article (1910). "Hydropathy". In …. Encyclopædia Britannica XIV. London. pp. 165–166. Retrieved 2009-10-29.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  15. ^ "Medicine at the Congress". British Medical Journal 2 (1089): 784–785. 12 November 1881.  . Note: Registration to review articles is free.
  16. ^ Crofts, H. Baptist (July–October 1883). "The Relation of Drugs to Medicine". in The British Quarterly Review. Vol. 78, American Edition. Philadelphia: The Leonard Scott Publishing Co. pp. 1–16 (n301–n316 in online page field). Retrieved 2009-11-05.  Full text at Internet Archive ( Quotations from p.9
  17. ^ Jacob, Stanley Wallace; Francone, Clarice Ashworth; Lossow, Walter J (1978). Structure and Function in Man. Philadelphia: Saunders. p. 364.  
  18. ^ , Wiley, 1997. p.120.A history of psychiatry: from the era of the asylum to the age of ProzacEdward Shorter,
  19. ^ Stedman, T.L. Twentieth Century Practice: An Inrternational Encyclopedia of Medical Science, New York: William Wood & Co., 1895–1903
  20. ^ Baruch, S. The Principles and Practices of Hydrotherapy, New York: William Wood & Co., 1908
  21. ^ Hinsdale, G. Hydrotherapy: A Work on Hydrotherapy in General, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Saunders, 1910
  22. ^ Abbott, G.K. Hydrotherapy for Students and Practitioners of Medicine. Loma Linda, California: College Press, 1911
  23. ^ Urse V.G. (1937). "Alcoholic mental disorders". American Journal of Nursing 37 (3): 225–243.  
  24. ^ Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous, New York City: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001, p.7
  25. ^ Durie, Alastair J. (2006). Water is Best: The Hydros and Health Tourism in Scotland, 1840–1940. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers Ltd.   (Snippet views via Google Books).
  26. ^ Bradley, James; Dupree, Mageurite; Durie, Alastair (1997), pp.426–437
  27. ^ Linn, Dr. Thomas (1894). Where to Send Patients Abroad, for Mineral and other Water Cures and Climactic Treatment. Detroit, Michigan: George S. Davis. Retrieved 5 December 2009.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  28. ^ Sutro (M.D.), Sigismund (1865). Lectures on the German Mineral Waters, and on their rational employment. With appendix on principal European spas and climatic health-resorts (2nd ed.). London: Longmans, Green & Co. p. 340. Retrieved 13 December 2009.  Cites doctors practicing at Ilmenau's hydropathic establishment.
  29. ^ Linn, Dr. Thomas (1894), p.7 (n17 in electronic page field).
  30. ^ "The Cult of Water Cures in Germany". British Medical Journal 2 (3476): 320–322. 20 August 1927.  . Note: Registration to review articles is free.
  31. ^ a b "Medicine: Gurgle, Gargle, Guggle". British Medical Journal. 8 July 1957. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  32. ^ Weisz, George (1995). The Medical Mandarins: The French Academy of Medicine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 138.  
  33. ^ Bradley, James; Dupree, Mageurite; Durie, Alastair (1997), p.427
  34. ^ a b John Floyer & Edward Batnard (1715. First version published 1702). Psychrolousia. Or, the History of Cold Bathing: Both Ancient and Modern. In Two Parts. The First, written by Sir John Floyer, of Litchfield. The Second, treating the genuine life of Hot and Cold Baths..(exceedingly long subtitles) by Dr. Edward Batnard. London: William Innys. Fourth Edition, with Appendix. Retrieved 2009-10-22.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  35. ^ a b Metcalfe, Richard (1877). Sanitus Sanitum et omnia Sanitus. Vol.1. London: The Co-operative Printing Co. Retrieved 2009-11-04.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  36. ^ a b c d Metcalfe, Richard (1898). Life of Vincent Priessnitz, Founder of Hydropathy. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd. Retrieved 3 December 2009.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  37. ^ Wilson, Erasmus (1861). The Eastern or Turkish Bath; Its History, Rebirth in Britain, and Application to the Purposes of Health. London: John Churchill. Retrieved 2009-11-08. . Full text at Internet Archive (
  38. ^ "Baths". 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-11-05. 
  39. ^ Hahn, J.S. (1738). On the Power and Effect of Cold Water. Cited in Richard Metcalfe (1898), pp.5–6. Per Encyclopædia Britannica, this was also titled On the Healing Virtues of Cold Water, Inwardly and Outwardly applied, as proved by Experience
  40. ^ Currie, James (1805). "Medical Reports, on the Effects of Water, Cold and Warm, as a remedy in Fever and Other Diseases, Whether applied to the Surface of the Body, or used Internally". Including an Inquiry into the Circumstances that render Cold Drink, or the Cold Bath, Dangerous in Health, to which are added; Observations on the Nature of Fever; and on the effects of Opium, Alcohol, and Inanition. Vol.1 (4th, Corrected and Enlarged ed.). London: T. Cadell and W. Davies. Retrieved 2 December 2009.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  41. ^ Metcalfe, Richard (1898), pp.8, 77, 121, 128, 191, 206, 208, 210. Note: Type "Oertel" into search field to find citations.
  42. ^ Claridge, Capt. R.T. (1843, 8th ed), pp.14 49, 54, 57, 68, 322, 335. Note: Pagination in online field does not match book pagination. Type "Oertel" into search field to find citations.
  43. ^ Claridge, Capt. R.T. (1843). Hydropathy; or The Cold Water Cure, as practiced by Vincent Priessnitz, at Graefenberg, Silesia, Austria. (5th ed.). London: James Madden and Co. 
  44. ^ Bradley, James (2003). Cold cure: Hydrotherapy had exotic origins, but became a firm favourite of the Victorian elite. Wellcome Trust: News and Features. Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  45. ^ Metcalfe, Richard (1898), p.117
  46. ^ Metcalfe, Richard (1898), p.120
  47. ^ Kneipp, Sebastian (1891). My Water Cure, As Tested Through More than Thirty Years, and Described for the Healing of Diseases and the Preservation of Health. Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons. Retrieved 3 December 2009.  translation from the 30th German edition. Full text at Internet Archive (
  48. ^ Marland, Hilary & Adams, Jane (2009). "Hydropathy at Home: : The Water Cure and Domestic Healing in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Britain". Bulletin of the History of Medicine 83 (3): 499–529.  
  49. ^ Beirne, Peter. The Ennis Turkish Baths 1869–1878. County Cork Library. p. see note 11. Retrieved 30 October 2009.  Originally published in The Other Clare vol. 32 (2008) pp 12-17
  50. ^ Anon. (1843). Hydropathy, or the Cold Water Cure. The Substance of Two Lectures, delivered by Captain Claridge, F.S.A., at the Queens Concert Rooms, Glasgow. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  51. ^ Wilson, James (1843). The Water-Cure. Stomach Complaints and Drug Diseases, their Causes, Con- sequences and Cure by Water, Air, Exercise and Diet...To which is Appended two Letters to Dr. Hastings, of Worcester, on the Results of the Water-Cure at Malvern (2nd ed.). London: J. Churchill. Retrieved 2009-11-04.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  52. ^ Price, Robin (July 1981). "Hydropathy in England 1840-70". Medical History 25 (3): 269–280.  
  53. ^ a b Swinton, William E 1980The hydrotherapy and infamy of Dr James Gully,, Canadian Medical Association Journal. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
  54. ^ Wilson, M.D., James; & James M. Gully, M.D. (1843). in The Dangers of the Water Cure, and its Efficacy Examined and Compared with those of the Drug Treatment of Diseases; and an Explanation of its Principles and Practice; with an account of Cases Treated at Malvern, and a Prospectus of the Water Cure Establishment at That Place. London: Cunningham & Mortimer. Retrieved 2009-11-02.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  55. ^ Gully, James Manby (1850. First published 1846). The Water-Cure in Chronic Disease; An Exposition of the causes, progress, and termination of various chronic diseases of the digestive organs, lungs, nerves, limbs, and skin; and of their treatment by water, and other hygienic means (3rd ed.). London: John Churchill. Retrieved 2009-11-03.  Full text at Internet Archive (
  56. ^ History of Water Cures at malvern
  57. ^ Bradley, J., and Depree, M. A Shadow of Orthodoxy? An Epistemology of British Hydropathy, 1840–1858, Medical History, 2003, 47:173–194
  58. ^ Bradley, James; Dupree, Mageurite & Durie, Alastair (1997). p.429
  59. ^ Gully, James Manby (1856). The Water-Cure in Chronic Disease; An Exposition of the causes, progress, and termination of various chronic diseases of the digestive organs, lungs, nerves, limbs, and skin; and of their treatment by water, and other hygienic means (5th English ed.). London: John Churchill. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  60. ^ Sidney Lee (Editor) (1899). "Urquhart, David". entry in Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 58 (Ubaldini – Wakefield). London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 43–45 (n42–44 in page field). Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  61. ^ Shifrin, Malcolm (3 October 2008). "Dr Curtin's Hydropathic Establishment: Glenbrook, Co.Cork". Victorian Turkish Baths: Their origin, development, and gradual decline. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  62. ^ Shifrin, Malcolm (3 October 2008). "St Ann's Hydropathic Establishment, Blarney, Co.Cork". Victorian Turkish Baths: Their origin, development, and gradual decline. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  63. ^  Kelly, Howard A.; Burrage, Walter L., eds. (1920). "Shew, Joel". American Medical Biographies. Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company. 
  64. ^ Whorton, James C; Karen Iacobbo (2002). Nature cures: The history of alternative medicine in America. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 89, 90.  
  65. ^ Wilson, James Grant, & John Fiske, eds. (1888). "Shew, Joel (biographical sketch)". Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography. V. Pickering-Sumter. New York: Appleton & Co. pp. 508–509. 
  66. ^ Iacobbo, Michael; Karen Iacobbo (2004). Vegetarian America: A History. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. p. 74.  
  67. ^ Trall, R.T., M.D. (1956). Drug Medicines (orig. 1862), The Hygienic System (1875) & Health Catechism (1875) (reprint ed.). Mokelumne Hill, California: Reprint by Health Research. p. 4.  
  68. ^ Metcalfe, R. (1898), p.170
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a. ^ While the second sense, of water as a form of torture is documented back to at least the 15th century,[80] the first use of the term water cure as a torture is indirectly dated to around 1898, by U.S. soldiers in the Spanish–American War,[81] after the term had been introduced to America in the mid-19th century in the therapeutic sense, which was in widespread use.[36] Indeed, while the torture sense of water cure was by 1900–1902 established in the American army,[82][83] with a conscious sense of irony,[84][85] this sense was not in widespread use. Webster's 1913 dictionary cited only the therapeutic sense, water cure being synonymous with hydropathy,[86] the term by which hydrotherapy was known in the 19th century and early 20th century.[14][36]

The late 19th century expropriation of the term water cure, already in use in the therapeutic sense, to denote the polar opposite of therapy, namely torture, has the hallmark of arising in the sense of irony. This would be in keeping with some of the reactions to water cure therapy and its promotion, which included not only criticism, but also parody and satire.[87][88]


See also

Canine hydrotherapy is a form of hydrotherapy directed at the treatment of chronic conditions, post-operative recovery, and pre-operative or general fitness in dogs.

A Beagle swimming in a harness in a hydrotherapy pool

For animals

Alternating the temperatures, either in a shower or complementary tanks, combines the use of hot and cold in the same session. Proponents claim improvement in circulatory system and lymphatic drainage.[78] Experimental evidence suggests that contrast hydrotherapy helps to reduce injury in the acute stages by stimulating blood flow and reducing swelling.[79]

Cryotherapy, cold water immersion or ice bath is a new form of hydrotherapy used by physical therapists, sports medicine facilities and rehab clinics. Proponents claim improved return of blood flow and byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymphatic system and more efficient recycling.[77]

Recent techniques

At its height, there were over 200 water-cure establishments in the United States, most located in the northeast. Few of these lasted into the postbellum years, although some survived into the 20th century including institutions in Scott (Cortland County), Elmira, Clifton Springs and Dansville. While none were located in Jefferson County, the Oswego Water Cure operated in the city of Oswego.[76]


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