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Hydrotherapy has been used for many years to assist in the treatment of medical complaints. The addition of herbal decoctions or infusions to a bath will enhance the natural healing power of the water. Depending on the plant used, and the temperature and depth of the water, a bath can have a wide variety of effects. It can calm or stimulate the mind or body, open or close pores, or relieve inflammation, itching and pain.

When making a decoction for a bath, place a quantity of fresh herb in a cloth bag and boil in water. For a partial bath, use less herbs (usually about a third as much as for a full bath). Add the decoction to the bath water, and use the bag with the herbs in it as a washcloth for added benefit.

Full bath. A warm bath of 90 - 95 degrees Fahrenheit will be soothing and calming to the nerves, and may be helpful for bladder problems, urinary problems, mild colds and low fever. A hot bath of 100 - 113 degrees will shock the system, increasing heart action. Follow the hot bath by bundling the patient in blankets to induce sweating. This can be helpful for colds and fevers, and for eliminating body wastes. Cold baths of 55 - 65 degrees Fahrenheit will have the same heart-increasing effect as the hot bath, but the heart will slow down after the intial shock. By adding the right herb, or combination of herbs, a full bath can be created for just about any purpose.

Half bath For this method, the bath should be just full enough to cover the legs and the body up to the navel. At this level, a cold bath of 5 to 15 seconds once a day can be used for headache, insomnia, nervous problems, flatulence and constipation. A warm half bath may be helpful for low blood pressure and menopausal symptoms. As with the full bath, add herbal decoctions to enhance the effect.

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