Hydrotherapy Baths and Poultices

Hydrotherapy Baths

The baths can be a part of your session if you have the equipment at the office to do so or send the directions home with your client for continued relief.

Full Bath: Warm baths ( 90-95 F) are calming and soothing to the nerves, help relieve bladder and urinary problems, mild colds.

Hot Baths (100-113 F) – shocks the system; causes increased circulation especially when followed by bundling in blankets causes profuse sweating to detoxify the body wastes.  Caution: Hot baths can dehydrate the body and can be exhausting.  It can also lower blood pressure and result in fainting.
Cold baths (55-65 F)- shocks the system initially and then slows the heart down

Half Bath: between the full bath and the sitz bath; sit in water up to the navel with the legs and feet under water but the upper body out of the water.
Warm half baths : 95 F for 10 minutes can be used for low blood pressure and menopausal problems.  Can be accompanied by vigorous brushing of the skin and end with a cool shower.
Cold half bath- 5- 15 seconds can be used to treat headaches, insomnia, nervous problems, overactive thyroid, flatulence and constipation.

Sitz bath – A partial bath covering only the pelvic region: water reaches your navel. Prop your feet up on a the edge or keep your knees up and splash water onto abdomen (keep feet and knees out of water).  Cover top half of body accordingly for warmth.  Beneficial for the genito-urinary tract, lower abdominal area and  rectum.
   Effects and Indications:
      1.  Hot Sitz bath – Temperature: 105 F to 115 F for 2-10 minutes.  Analgesic and stimulant to pelvic circulation. Used for dysmennorrhea, other menstrual problems, hemorrhoids.
       2.  Cold Sitz bath – Temperature : 55 F to 75 F for 2-10 minutes.  Increases the tone of smooth muscle of the uterus, lower bowel and rectum reducing tendency to bleed in these areas.  Used in subinvoultion of the uterus, metrorrhagia (profuse bleeding from the uterus at any other time other than menstruation) atonic constipation and as a general tonic.
      3.  Contrast Sitz bath- Alternating hot and cold water.  Hot phase 105 F to 115 F for 3 minutes; Cold phase 55 F to 85 F for 30 seconds. Increases pelvic circulation and tone of smooth muscle of the pelvic region.  Used in chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic prostatitis, atonic constipation and fistula following rectal surgery.
      Procedure: Prepare the bath at the desired temperature. Assist the patient into the bath and drape to avoid exposure.  Increase and maintain temperature of water for length of time desired.  Conclude hot sitz bath by cooling the bath to neutral for 3 minutes.  Herbs can be added for treatment.

Medicated Baths:
  1.  Saline Bath –  Add 3-5 pounds of magnesium sulfate (salt or Epsom salt)  to a full tub of water (30 gallons).  Temperature – 95-97 F.  10-20 minutes.  Used to relax.  Cooler water and shorter time is more of a tonic.
     2.  Soda bath – Add 1 pound of baking soda to full tub of water (30 gallons).  Temperature – 95-97 F 10-20 minutes. Alkaline.  Acts as a mild antiseptic, opens pores, relieves itching and skin irritation.  Good for skin conditions such as eczema, hives or insect bites.
     3.  Starch Bath – Add 1 pound of dry corn starch to full tub of water (30 gallons).  Temperature – 95-97 F.  Acts as a cooling agent relieving skin irritations, itchiness from such conditions as poison ivy, poison oak, eczema and prickly heat.
     4.  Epsom salt Bath – Add 1 cup to 1 pound of Epsom salt to full tub of water (30 gallons).  Temperature- as hot as can be tolerated for 10-20 minutes.  Increases perspiration, relieves muscular fatigue, aches and pains. Used to relieve pain of arthritis, sciatica. Also used to deter cold, flu, or other infection. Contraindicated for patients in weakened conditions such as heart trouble, arteriosclerosis, diabetes.
     5.  Detox Bath –  1-2 cups each of Epsom salt, sea salt, baking soda.  Temperature – as hot as can be tolerated for 20-30 minutes.  Used to detoxify body after deep tissue work.  Used to neutralize energy picked up from doing bodywork.  Practitioners will benefit from a bath every night after work!
     6. Sulfur Bath –  Add 1-2 ounces of potassium sulfate to a full tub of water (30 gallons).  (or go to sulfur hot springs) Temperature – 95-102 F 10-20 minutes.  Can be relaxing or refreshing; increases perspiration, relieves breathing problems in asthma or bronchitis.
     7. Oatmeal Bath – 1-2 cups finely ground oatmeal to a full tub of water (30 gallons). Temperature – 95-97 F 15- 30 minutes.  Used to relieve skin irritations, relieves sunburn, chafing and windburn.
     8.  Apple cider vinegar Bath – Use organic, raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized  with “mother” in bottle from health food store.  Most  regular store bought vinegar is made from wood and flavored with apples.  1-4 cups added to full bath (30 gallons).  Effective in detoxifying the body and treating vaginal yeast infections.

Hot Foot Bath- A local immersion bath covering the feet and ankles at temperatures ranging from 100- 110 F
     Uses: to decongest internal organs, relieve headaches, relieve chest congestion, relieve pelvic congestion, recommended for bladder, kidney, throat and ear inflammations;  for general warming of body, to produce sweating, to help stop or treat a cold; relaxation, treat tired, sore feet.  Helpful for chronically cold feet
     Equipment:  foot tub or large container to cover feet and ankles with water, thermometer.
     Procedure : Have enough water to cover feet and ankles.  Add water as needed to keep temperature between 100 F – 110 F . Watch temperature and modify for desired treatment. Watch for reactions such as perspiration.   Pour cold water over feet to end treatment.  Cool client if needed.
     Contraindications:  Insulin dependent diabetic, frost bite, Arteriosclerosis of lower legs, loss of feeling in feet or legs.
Cold Foot Bath – Used for tired feet, constipation, insomnia, headache, nosebleed and colds.  Immerse feet in cold water until the cold becomes too uncomfortable of the feet feel warm.
Contrast Foot Bath -alternate 1-2 minutes in hot bath, 30 seconds in cold lasting for 15 minutes ending in cold; promotes circulation in the legs, prevents varicose veins, helpful for insomnia, headache, high blood pressure, and chronically cold feet. 


Poultices are used to apply remedies to a skin area using moist heat. Poultices can be kept warm by replacing it entirely or

 using a hot water bottle on top of pack. Do not allow poultice to become cold.  Do not reuse poultices.  Do not use a poultice on an open wound or burn.

Preparation : Bruise or crush the medicinal parts of the plant to a pulpy mass and heat.  If using dried herbs moisten the materials by mixing with a hot, soft, adhesive substance such as moist flour, corn meal, or flaxseed meal.  Cleanse skin first with chamomile or mugwort tea or hydrogen peroxide.  Apply directly on the skin or wrap the paste or pulp in a wet, hot cloth and wrap the cloth around to retain moisture and heat.  If using an irritant herb such as mustard, keep the paste between two pieces of cloth to prevent direct contact with the skin. Use muslin or thin cotton towel to wrap herbs in and cover with towel or plastic to retain heat.  Remove before poultice gets cold. A second one can be applied. After removing poultice wash the area with water or herb tea such as chamomile or mugwort.

Bran Poultice: Make a paste with hot water and bran, apply as hot as can be tolerated.  Used for inflammations, strains, sprains, bruises.

Bread and Milk Poultice:  mix together to make a paste.  Used for bringing boils and abscesses to a head.

Cabbage Poultice :  Use raw or cooked cabbage.  Can use whole leaves layered over area and covered with a hot towel. Has a warming, detoxifying and stimulating effect.  Used for ulcers, varicose veins, shingles, eczema, gout, rheumatism, infection. Apply to lower abdomen to promote pelvic circulation and dissolve small fibroids and cysts in pelvic cavity.  Used over the liver it will assist in breaking up congestion and detoxify (use only 10 minutes first time and work up to more as it can cause a strong detoxification reaction).

Carrot Poultice: Boil carrots until soft or use raw and mash to a pulp.  Mix with small amount of vegetable oil.  Used for cysts, tumors, boils, cold sores, impetigo

Clay Poultice: Use clay that has been cleaned of impurities. Mix with water or apple cider vinegar to make a paste. Allow to dry before removing with warm water.  Use on inflammatory skin diseases, bruises, sprains, acne, drawing toxins from the skin.

Mustard Poultice: Use powdered mustard and mix with water to make a paste. May need to add flour to hold paste together.  Do not apply directly on skin.  Wrap in muslin or cheesecloth or cotton towel between skin and paste.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Remove immediately if stinging or burning occurs.  Use with caution. Do not use on sensitive or broken skin.  Good for arthritic joints and any condition requiring increased circulation.  Used to help relieve congestion, aid asthma, relieve coughs and assists in getting rid of colds and flu  when used on the chest.

Onion Poultice – Sautee chopped onion in oil add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and wrap in cheese cloth.  Apply to area.  Excellent for drawing out impurities.  High sulfur content makes it good for inflamed areas.

Potato Poultice :  Grate raw potato, mix with boiling water.  Used to reduce inflammation as in arthritis. Has soothing and cooling effect. Can be applied to boils or carbuncles.