DR. LEPISTO: Water — a natural healing source
Free Press Health Columnist
There are few things as healing as water. In a less sensible time in my life, I once put on the flood-stage Skykomish River in Western Washington in my kayak. In exactly 0.1 seconds, I found myself hanging on for the wildest whitewater stretch of my life. I couldn’t even recognize the river, until minutes later I heaved myself into a safe eddy to cry my brains out, probably because I just survived something I shouldn’t have. I was in medical school at the time, mega-stressed and I remember how cathartic that run was. Without having realized it at the time, I had immersed myself in an element that was generating massive amounts of negatively-charged electrons, those little particles acting in a deeply stimulating and regenerative way on the atoms within my body.
Being in swiftly-moving and powerful water is hardly necessary to achieve a therapeutic effect. Have you ever noticed the calming and soothing sounds of trickling snowmelt? Beyond such quietude, the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Japanese and Chinese all have their own well-developed hydro-therapeutic techniques on which my own naturopathic training is based. In an ever-increasing cycle of expensive medications and procedures, we could all use the inexpensive and effective home remedy of water therapy.
There are steam saunas, whirlpools, therapeutic contrast showers that support your hormone and nervous systems, hot fomentation (towel) packs to speed detoxification, sitz baths to increase pelvic circulation, magic sock treatments to clear a cold or flu quickly and more. For juicy details, please refer to my previous Free Press articles “Hydrotherapy for Colds and Flus” and “The Lost Art of Hydrotherapy.” Even simpler, perhaps you hadn’t even thought about how much or little water you are taking into your body, or how much you require.
HOW MUCH WATER?
A good rule of intake is one-half your body weight in ounces of water/day. For example, if you weight 140 pounds, you should be drinking 70 ounces, or just over two liters/day. If you are more mathematically inclined, drink one-third your body weight in ounces, plus an extra 8 ounces for each cup of coffee or tea or for each half-hour of exercise, especially as we move into warmer Grand Valley temperatures. If you are one of many who need to be drinking more, begin with a very large glass warm water first thing upon arising, waiting at least 30 minutes to eat so as not to decrease your digestive fire. Throughout the day, I recommend a stainless steel bottle and “spice water” containing lemon, fennel or ginger for variety and gastric stimulation. Drink little to none after dinner, save perhaps a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea. This way you are not giving your bladder a marathon of overnight patience.
Every once in a while I hear a warning from some health professional or the other about the dangers of drinking too much water. The much-hyped condition of water intoxication, also known as water poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia (literally “low-sodium”), is actually a condition of electrolyte imbalance when the body sweats out too much sodium without replacing it.
While some people such as ultra-endurance athletes running 100+ miles/day need to be very careful about water intake along with calcium, chloride and potassium, the rest of us could probably use more (a lot more?) water to support the hundreds of functions in the body that are water-dependent. While the intake of water is very important, the following is one example of a home application for recovery and restoration.
HYDROTHERAPY FOR HEADACHES
Naturopathic doctors often use the application of hot and cold water to change blood flow and release muscle tension in a nagging headache. The following can provide significant relief, whether they are of muscular or vascular origin.
• Migraine headache
Fill one basin with ice water and the other with hot tap water (no greater than 114 degrees F). Soak one towel in the ice water. Wring out the towel from the ice water and place on the back of the neck while soaking the feet in the basin of hot tap water. Leave for 20 minutes.
If this does not bring relief, then soak one towel in the hot water and place the hot wrung towel on the back of the neck while soaking the feet in the basin of iced water for 10-20 minutes.
• Tension headache
Fill one basin with ice water and one basin with hot tap water (no greater than 114 degrees F). Soak one towel in each basin. Wring out hot towel and place on the back of the neck for 3 minutes. Remove this towel and replace it with the iced towel for 30 seconds. Repeat the alternating hot and cold applications, three times each, finishing cold.
• Sinus headache
Use the same process as for tension headache, but place the wrung towels over the sinuses, rather than on the back of the neck.
Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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