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June 20, 2018  |  Login
History of Hydrotherapy
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

The use of water as a healing tool has been recorded since ancient times. Records found from the Egyptians and the Babylonians are filled with descriptions about various forms of hydrotherapy. Ancient Greeks and Romans placed a high priority on baths for healing and disease prevention.

Vincent Priessnitz, who lived from 1799 to 1852, was one of the most influential people in the hydrotherapy movement. As a boy, he observed how injured animals instinctively went to a nearby creek to let the cold, flowing water heal their injuries. Priessnitz experimented with various forms of hydrotherapy as a boy growing up on a farm in Europe. At age seventeen, he was run over by a wagon and pronounced untreatable by a local surgeon. Using hydrotherapy, he was able to recover from his broken ribs. From that point on, people came from around the country for his famed hydrotherapy treatments. Later in life, the Austrian emperor gave him a gold medal for civic merit.

Father Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) was also a famous advocate of hydrotherapy, devising approximately 120 different uses of water for healing. His hydrotherapy treatments are still used by spas and clinics in Europe today.
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