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Graduated Hip Bath and Hydrotherapy

by Laurence Layne, LMT, Herbalist

Why Hip Baths and Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy (hydro + therapy) means water therapy. A hip bath is to sit in a hot, cold, or tepid bath, so that only the hips are pelvis are in contact with the water. A hip bath is sometimes called a sitz bath. This stimulates circulation to the spine, pelvis, legs, and pelvic organs such as bladder, colon, prostate, and sexual organs. Improved or equalized circulation to the pelvis can help circulation to the legs, chronic pelvic inflammation, lethargy, libido, and renal (kidney) function. Conditions as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related inflammatory or immune dysfunction can be helped by hydrotherapy such as hips baths and constitutional hydrotherapy.


These measures are generally successful, if actually used. The biggest obstacle to using hydrotherapy is aversion to cold. While the water is only cool or neutral temperature in this hip bath, many people perceive levels of slightly cool as very cold. This is due to individual constitutional nature. Some people are more cold natured or hot natured based on their underlying constitution. Many people with Fibromyalgia /CFIDS/ chronic inflammation/immune suppression are cold natured. Another way of saying this is immune suppression is usually accompanied by low metabolic function, low vitality and poor digestion. With a little practice and patience and a willingness to get better almost anyone can use graduated hydrotherapy with excellent results. Patients report increased vitality, better overall energy, less pain, less depression, less anxiety and better sleep.


Fill bathtub from the cold tap only, with enough water to cover the hips. Start by placing your feet in the water only. Leave your feet in the water for up to five minutes the first day. If this is too uncomfortable leave your feet in for only a minute at a time until you are able to build up to five minutes and beyond. Each day you will leave your feet in the water a little longer.

After you feel comfortable leaving your feet in the water up to ten minutes each day, then you can begin to immerse your pelvis in the water. Like the feet, you take this one step at a time. Begin by splashing water on your lower legs and calves. Then splash water on your thighs and gently rub your legs. You will soon become acclimated to the cool or neutral water and can lower your pelvis into the water.

Initially you will find it cool and want to remove yourself from the tub. A few seconds may be all you can stand. This is OK as long as each day you try to leave your pelvis immersed a little bit longer. Eventually you can sit in the bath for minutes at a time. Work the amount of time up from ten to twenty minutes.

Long before you reach the point of actually sitting in the tub you should feel some improvement in how you feel. Generally most patients say they feel better with less pain and that they have more energy.

This hip bath regimen may also be applied as part of an overall program for those with low vitality, manic depression and insomnia. Patients with prostate conditions will also find it beneficial.

Important: After you sit in the hip bath you should dry and dress warmly. This will increase the tonic benefits of the cool hip bath.

Warning: If you are frail, have heart disease or high blood pressure or some other medical condition, please consult your physician to determine if this therapy will be appropriate for you.

FAQS: Frequently Asked Questions:

Why does it have to be cold water? Can't I use hot instead?

Sometimes we recommend hot or warm water hip baths, but for raising whole body function (metabolic tone), we like cold hip baths. Sometimes hot and cold are alternated. This is determined by the practitioner or hydrotherapist at our office. Hot water draws circulation to the pelvis, but cold water encourages circulatory exchange; cold "washes" the pelvis with new blood, and lymph, and encourages nervous system tone.

I really don't like cold!

Give it a try. As described above, the cold water is first applied to the feet, and then the pelvis for short periods of time. You will be surprised that you will build up tolerance in a few days and weeks and look forward to how good it makes you feel.

Copyright © 2000. 2012, Laurence Layne, LMT, Herbalist & Healing Waters Clinic and Herb Shop, 26 Clark St., St. Augustine, Florida, 32084

This handout may be distributed to others as long as this copyright and distribution notice is included and the text is not edited in any fashion. If you are a health professional and would like to distribute our patient handouts in your practice you may do so after paying a small shareware fee. Please contact us at 904-826-1965 or e-mail us.


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