Contrast hydrotherapy is a quick and easy at-home technique beneficial for enhancing the immune system. It consists of alternating with hot and cold temperatures when showering in order to alter blood flow. The hot water causes blood vessels to dilate thereby shunting the blood to the surface, and cold water causes blood vessels to constrict, causing the blood to go deeper into organs. By alternating between hot and cold, a very energizing sensation results.
Contrast showers have been shown to boost the immune system to help prevent and fight off common illnesses like colds and flu. All you need is a shower with the ability to rapidly switch temperatures between hot and cold, and a dry towel. It's best to alternate between hot and cold for three to four cycles:
HOT phase: turn the temperature up as hot as tolerable for two to three minutes
COLD phase: turn the temperature down very cold for 15 seconds
Always end on COLD, and briskly dry off with a towel when finished.
Ending on cold can feel shocking, but it's important to do so because it provides quick vasoconstriction of the superficial blood vessels, and your body will adapt by warming up afterwards.
This therapy is customizable to your individual preferences and needs. During or acute injury/illness, or if you feel chilled, you can decrease the length of time as well as make the temperature changes less dramatic. Day by day as you increase your tolerance to the temperature change, feel free to make the hot and cold temperatures more extreme and increase the length of time during the cold cycle.
About the Author
I'm a naturopathic medical student at NUHS. I started the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program in January 2014. I was born and raised in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a beautiful town on Lake Michigan. My experiences interpreting (Spanish to English) in nearly all medical specialties solidified my decision to study naturopathic medicine, as I saw a deep need for treating the body as a whole, getting to the root causes of symptoms, and using minimally invasive low-cost therapies to restore health.