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Article water Su B
No, it’s not about drinking two litres of water every day; I hope that myth has now been thoroughly busted.

But did you know that water can help with rheumatic problems, recovery from injuries, depression and maybe more?

It’s well understood in sport physiology that an ice bath after physical exercise helps to heal injuries faster. But you don’t have to go to that extreme. A quick cold splash or shower after a hot soak will work in the same way. When you’re hot, the blood vessels under your skin dilate, to help keep your core at a constant temperature. The cold water causes them to contract quickly, and then there is a surge of blood through as they open up again.

If there’s any inflammation due to injury, rheumatism, or dermatitis, the products of inflammation tend to build up in the area, and this contributes to pain and restriction of movement. The surge of blood following the cold water will flush them out and get things moving again. If rheumatic pain wakes you in the night, the hot and cold treatment will help you to sleep longer and more easily.

And if you follow the water treatment with an application of essential oils like lavender, juniper, black pepper, or wintergreen (products like Deep Heat are basically composed of essential oils in a carrier), it will be even more effective.

Over time, if you do this regularly, your circulation will improve, and injuries will heal more quickly. And there’s been a lot of excitement recently about the benefits of cold water swimming to help lift depression. It’s basically the same process, with the added benefit of getting out into a natural environment (much better than a swimming pool, although that is better than nothing) and, if you go with friends, spending time socialising and having fun.

But even if you can’t get out of the house, and even if you can only manage holding your hands under a cold tap after doing the washing up, it will be better than nothing.

EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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