Hot and cold Bath or Contrast Bath
hot and cold bath or contrast bath
Hot and cold bath or contrast bath
hot and cold bath or contrast bath
Hot and cold bath or contrast bath


One of the effective and easy to apply water treatments (Hydrotherapy) is called the hot and cold bath or contrast bath. This treatment may be used for a part of the body, like an arm or a leg, or the whole body, which is immersed into hot and then, cold water, in repeated turns.

Definition of Hot and cold bath

    Definition of Contrast Bath: The immersion of a body part alternately in hot and cold water, this you may do in  repeated tunes (Note: the hot and cold water may be applied with cloths to body areas that cannot be easily immersed in water, or for some conditions that may prove  difficult to do so)

   Why hot and cold?  Here is what happens to the body when hot and cold water is applied to the skin.

Hot water pulls the blood to the skin, as the pipes carrying blood (blood vessels) get larger with heat.

Then cold water takes the blood away, as the blood pipes get narrower from the cold. When we do this treatment a few times it makes more blood go to that part of the body.

You can try this for yourself! Just put your hand first in some hot water and then cold water a few times. Notice that the color of your skin will change. It will become pink or red. That is because there is more blood going to your hand.

The blood vessels expand (dilate) with heat and contract (constrict) with cold. This increases the flow of blood to the region being treated. The increased blood flow helps to:

  1. Enhance the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the body cells,
  2. 2. Hasten removal of the cell’s waste products, and
  3. 3. Increase white blood cell activity. Then increased local cell metabolism, and immune system mobilization results, which aids in the more rapid healing of the treated body part.

When there is more blood moving in a sick part of the body, healing can happen quick. There will be more oxygen and nutrients, and waste products will be quickly removed.

Condition relived by the use of the Hot and Cold Bath are numerus, including:

  • Infections on the hands and feet (and other areas of the body.)
  • Injuries to the muscles or joints
  • Joint pains (Arthritis)
  • Broken bones (often heal quicker) (and)
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Sprains
  • strains, and other injuries to the muscles and joints (however, treat injury only with ice—water for first 24-48 hours, depending on severity)
  • for a lasting healing of fractures (wait for a few days after the fracture occurred before beginning hydrotherapy)
  • Headaches (contrast bath to the extremities-esp. the feet and legs)
  • Edema (swelling of a body part due to fluid retention)

Materials needed for a Hot and Cold bath. 

All the materials are probably in your home, all that is needed is to gather them and make them usable for the treatment.

  • Two Water containers, large basins, two.-1 for hot and 1 for cold water (or buckets-large enough to dip the feet or the body part in it.)
  • A pot with hot water (pot or heat retaining container)
  • A pot with cold water (or ice) (and)
  • A towel (to dry the area after completing the treatment.)
  • Optional equipment: Sheet or light blanket (as needed for modesty or warmth—depending on the part being treated), small basin with ice water and 2 washcloths (for cool compress if sweating occurs). Disinfectant for cleaning equipment after the treatment


  • Before each treatment, put all the equipment near you and have the room warm. There should not be any cold air coming into the room from open windows or doors so that you have a more stable area (room) temperature.
  • It is good to start the treatment with a prayer for God’s healing mercies.
  • Begin with the hot water bath. First, test the water temperature with your elbow; to be sure it is not too hot. Start with milder heat; increase the temperature as tolerated (do NOT increase over 102° F (39° C) in peripheral vascular disease or diabetes). After 3 minutes or the specified time for the
  • Then dip the body part completely in the hot water for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Place a cold compress on the head if sweating occurs.
  • After 3 to 4 minutes in the hot water bath, quickly put the body part in the cold water for about 1 minute. After 1 minute, put it back into hot water for 3 minutes. (You may need to add some hot water to the hot bath or cold water to the cold bath, to keep the temperature right.)
  • For a full treatment, you must change from hot to cold 3 to 5 times, always finishing with cold.
  • If the treatment is to be followed by a massage of the body part or when treating rheumatoid arthritis patient, end the treatment with hot. Otherwise, end it with cold.

After each treatment, to receive the maximum benefit, it is good to rest for 30 minutes after any hydrotherapy treatment before returning to your regular activities.

This helps the body to recover and healing is quicker.   The hot and cold bath treatment may be given a few times a day, as it is needed.


When you do a hot and cold bath, you must be careful with the following:

  • Poor circulation. If a person has poor circulation or loss of feeling in their hands or feet, you must use warm water instead of hot. Test the temperature of the water with your elbow. If you can leave your elbow comfortably in the water, you may give the treatment.
  • Don’t spread infection. Be careful not to spread infection. Clean the buckets very well after treating an open sore or infected wound. You may need to use strong soap or even bleach to clean the buckets.
  • In the loss of sensation. Instead of hot and cold, use only warm and cool baths if there is a loss of feeling. This is especially common in diabetes. For these people, it’s very important to test the water temperature. As a general rule, when using your elbow, if you can leave your elbow comfortably in the water, you may proceed with the treatment.
  • For emphasis Do NOT use very hot or very cold water in cases of loss of feeling (numbness) or blood vessel disease of the leg and feet.
  • In Hemorrhage. Avoid treating any area where there is a tendency to bleed or hemorrhage.
  • In Malignancy. In cases of malignancies, do not use this treatment unless under the guidance of a physician skilled in hydrotherapy


God made all nature to work with order. Our bodies are also made to work well and in order. If we care for our bodies, we will be much healthier, and when we need natural treatments (like water treatments), they will work much better.

What makes our bodies work well and stay healthy? We need to;

  • Eat good food (especially fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans)
  • Drink plenty of (pure) water.
  • Work or exercise outdoors (in the sunshine and fresh air.)
  • Use water on the outside of our bodies (to stay clean and for treatments when sick.)
  • Don’t drink alcohol, tea or coffee.
  • Don’t use tobacco or other drugs.
  • Get proper rest. (and)
  • Trust in God. (He has the answers for all of life’s problems!)

In the Bible, we can find beautiful stories about how God healed people from their diseases. Sometimes God asked the people to show their faith in Him by using water. Here is one of those stories: you can read the story here (2 Kings 5)

When we are sick, like Naaman in the Bible story recorded in 2 Kings 5, we often want a very quick miraculous healing. But many times, God chooses to work in another way – through simple natural remedies, that may appear slow but always so thorough and complete.

By taking care of our bodies, and making a wise use of Heaven’s remedies, we too may experience the blessings of very good health.

Specific Treatment Recommendations

Localized Infections, Muscle, and Joint Injuries

Treat acute muscle and joint injuries with ice water or cold packs, elevate the affected part, rest and keep the  immobilization for the first 24—48 hours (depending on severity). A supportive bandage (such as an ice bandage) may be helpful. See your physician if the injury is severe or does not improve as would be expected.

  • After 24-48 hours, begin the contrast bath treatment with water as hot as can be tolerated.

Hot and Cold bath the Treatment of Arthritis

  • Begin the treatment with warm water (3 to 5 minutes); then change to cool water for 1 minute. Gradually increase the hot water temperature and reduce the cold water temperature as tolerated.
  • Alternate from hot to cold water 5 to 7 times. End with the hot water bath.
  • Repeat the above treatment I to 2 times per day.

Decreased Circulation (Blood Flow) to the Extremities

  • Treat with mild heat for 3 minutes and cool water (no ice) for 60 seconds.
  • Test the hot water with your elbow to be certain that it is not too hot.
  • Alternate from warm to cool water 5 to 7 times. End with the warm water bath.
  • Repeat the above treatment I to 2 times per day.


Training Material; Lay Institute for Global Health Training (LIGHT)

Loma Linda/ Health and Healing Seminar Series,

Wild-wood Lifestyle Center research reports


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