Contrast Showers

As a follow up to my article on hydrotherapy I wanted to share with you some great home techniques to keep your immune system healthy during the fall and winter months. Naturopathic medicine has its roots in the Nature Cure movement of the mid 19th century. The Nature Cure movement focused on fresh air, good food, exercise, and bathing (a somewhat old term which included hot and cold water treatments).

My last post discussed some of the mechanisms of hot and cold hydrotherapy. Contrast showers are a quick and easy way to apply those techniques at home.

As always, check out my disclaimer. Hot and cold treatments with severe temperature changes are especially concerning for people with circulatory problems or those with peripheral neuropathy (insensitivity to the hot or cold can cause burns or frostbite). Keep in mind that warm and cool water will give you a milder form of the treatment than hot and cold water.

Directions:

  • Take your normal shower. At the end of your shower slightly increase the hot water up to your tolerance. Stand in the warmer water for about three minutes to thoroughly heat up your body. This relaxes and opens up the blood vessels near the surface of your skin, bringing nutrient rich blood to all areas of the body.
  • Turn the water down to cool for about 30 seconds to a minute. This tones and tightens the blood vessels, shunting the blood back to the heart and lungs for recirculation.
  • Repeat this cycle several times. One is good. Three is better. The trick is to find a habit where you take the time to do it on a regular basis. Health is all about the slow and steady, not the quick fix.
  • Turn off the water and dry yourself off.
  • As your body gets used to it you can increase the hot and decrease the cold water temperatures for a more vigorous effect.

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