By Mihaela Chirhei, 2nd year BINM student

Hydrotherapy: “the application of water in any form, either externally or internally, in the treatment of disease and the maintenance of health”

If you already suffer from cold feet, the thought of stepping into a basin of cold water probably has you running for your coziest pair of socks. Despite seeming counterintuitive, cold water treading is one of the most simple, effective and inexpensive methods for treating chronic cold feet and improving circulation in the lower extremity.

Benefits of hydrotherapy:

  • Promotes circulation of blood and lymph
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces headaches
  • Prevents varicose veins
  • Improves sleep
  • Enhances general wellbeing

The term for this therapy can be a misnomer, and perhaps “thermotherapy” is a better description of the effects of a hydrotherapy treatment. Water is the perfect medium for carrying hot and cold temperatures. The alternation between hot and cold mechanically pushes blood and lymph around the body, mobilizes white blood cells, flushes out toxins and delivers nutrients and oxygen to tissues.

So how does stepping into a basin of cold water warm you up? Exposing an area of the body to cold for a short period of time initially causes constriction of the superficial blood vessels, while simultaneously dilating the deeper blood vessels. Thus, the warming sensation felt after cold water treading is generated from the inside out and sustained!

One of the main principles of naturopathic medicine is the belief that the body has the ability to heal itself, given the right support and care. Hydrotherapy does not directly heal any condition, but rather enhances the body’s capacity to return to balance.

Although hydrotherapy is generally safe, consult with your ND to confirm that it is right for you. The length and intensity of hydrotherapy treatments should be monitored by a health professional.


Boyle, W., Saine, A. (1988) Lectures in naturopathic hydrotherapy. East Palestine, OH: Buckeye Naturopathic Press.

Czeranko, S. (2014) Cold Feet and Water-Treading . Naturopathic Doctor News & Review. Retrieved from

Michalsen, A., Lüdtke, R., Bühring, M., Spahn, G., Langhorst, J., Dobos, G. J. (2003) Thermal hydrotherapy improves quality of life and hemodynamic function in patients with chronic heart failure. American Heart Journal,146(4), 728-733.

Mooventhan, A., Nivethitha, L. (2014) Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body. North American Journal of Medical Sciences, 6(5), 199–209.

Nagaich, U. (2016). Hydrotherapy: Tool for preventing illness. Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, 7(3), 69.

Vingelen,, J. (2016) What do cold feet and hands have to do with the heart? Retrieved from

Water Treading. (2016) Retrieved from