Undoubtedly, the invigorating and stimulating influence of cold sprays, ablutions, sitz baths, barefoot walking in the dewy grass or on wet stones and all other cold-water applications depends largely upon their electromagnetic effects upon the system. This has been explained in Chapter Ten, “Natural Treatment of Acute Diseases.”
(2) Elimination of Impurities. As the cold water drives the blood with increased force through the system, it flushes the capillaries in the tissues and cleanses them from the accumulations of morbid matter and poisons which are one of the primary causes of acute and chronic diseases.
As the blood rushes back to the surface it suffuses the skin, opens and relaxes the pores and the minute blood vessels or capillaries and thus unloads its impurities through the skin.
Why We Favor Cold Water
In the treatment of chronic diseases some advocates of natural methods of healing still favor warm or hot applications in the form of hot-water baths, different kinds of steam or sweat baths, electric light baths, hot compresses, fomentations, etc.
However, the great majority of Nature Cure practitioners in Germany have abandoned hot applications of any kind almost entirely because of their weakening and enervating aftereffects and because in many instances they have not only failed to produce the expected results, but aggravated the disease conditions.
We can explain the different effects of hot and cold water as well as of all other therapeutic agents upon the system by the Law of Action and Reaction. Applied to physics, this law reads: “Action and reaction are equal but opposite.” I have adapted the Law of Action and Reaction to therapeutics in a somewhat circumscribed way as follows: “Every therapeutic agent affecting the human organism has a primary, temporary, and a secondary, permanent effect. The secondary, lasting effect is contrary to the primary, transient effect.”
The first, temporary effect of warmth above the body temperature, whether it be applied in the form of hot air or water, steam or light, is to draw the blood into the surface. Immediately after such an application the skin will be red and hot.
The secondary and lasting effect, however (in accordance with the Law of Action and Reaction), is that the blood recedes into the interior of the body and leaves the skin in a bloodless and enervated condition subject to chills and predisposed to “catching cold.”
On the other hand, the first, transient effect of cold-water applications upon the body as a whole or any particular part is to chill the surface and send the blood scurrying inward, leaving the skin in a chilled, bloodless condition. This lack of blood and sensation of cold are at once telegraphed over the afferent nerves to headquarters in the brain, and from there the command goes forth to the nerve centers regulating the circulation: “Send blood into the surface!”