Naturopathic Hydrotherapy is frequently recommended as it is a safe and effective method of self treatment for muscular and lymphatic problems. Using either cold or hot applications, and occasionally contrast hydrotherapy helps to promote vascular circulation.

How to use an ice pack or cold compress

These are used in acute or sub-acute situations. Ice should normally be applied in the form of an ice pack wrapped in a cotton protective cover. Use a pillowcase or thin cloth to ensure that you don't burn the skin by exposure to ice directly.

Cold compressing is obtained by soaking a small hand towel in cold water, wringing it almost dry and then applying it to the appropriate area. The compress should be left in place for approximately 45 minutes until dry.

Heat packs or warm water applications

A hot water bottle with a protective cotton cover can be applied to to the appropriate area for 45 minutes, to vasodilate local blood vessels and promote increased local heat to a specific area. Foot baths, hand emersions, sauna or full body emersions, are frequently recommended for general rheumatic complaints, such as polymyalgia or arthritis.

Adding magnesium sulphate, (Epsom salts), in the ratio 2 - 3 cups of crystals to a pint of boiling water, and then adding this to the bath can be a useful addition to these techniques

Castor Oil Packs

A castor oil pack is an external application of castor oil placed onto the skin to enhance circulation. It promotes the healing of tissues and organs underneath the skin. It can be used to improve liver function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and to improve digestion.
The history of Castor Oil Packing goes back to Edgar Cayce who was a medical intuitive. He would go into deep hypnotic trances and prescribe medical treatments for people with all types of illnesses, some of them life-threatening. The Edgar Cayce readings recommend castor oil packs to improve assimilation, elimination and circulation–especially of the lymphatic system. Although this therapy seems unusual at first glance, it is one of the best documented of the Cayce therapies and can offer profound results. Castor oil packs are both soothing and healing as they magnify energy straight into vital organs in the nervous system, gut and digestive system, muscular and immune systems.
The function of the pack improves blood flow. The most popular of the packs is where it is applied to the liver and or lower abdomen. This would be performed twice or three times per week for one hour each application. This regimen should be followed for several months and then can be reduced to once or twice monthly. Packs should not be used in certain conditions–please ask your practitioner for advice on contra-indications. The castor oil and flannel can be purchased at health food stores, chemists, Internet or supermarkets.
How to make a Castor Oil pack
Take the cloth or flannel you intend to use as the pack. Put it in a warming pan (like a large disposable baking pan) and pour castor oil over it. Saturate the whole flannel, and leave it until it is well saturated. When you use it, you want it saturated, but not dripping. The size you want for use is about 12 x 18 inches (or the same as your hot water bottle or heating pad). To warm it up place in a warm oven or heated oven plate until at body temperature. Ensure you don’t burn yourself as castor oil can scald. After each use, you will probably need to add a little more castor oil. You can re-use the pack several times before eventually the oil will oxidise and become rancid. After each use, you should store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Where to Place the Castor Oil Pack
This will depend on what the problem is. Please ask your practitioner for guidance.

When and How to use a Castor Oil Pack
Use the pack in the evening, as you are resting before bed. Spread some cling film or plastic sheeting around the pack to ensure the castor oil doesn’t seep into clothing or fabric, as it’s hard to remove. Fold a thick towel that you will use only for castor oil packs, and cover. Then put a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of the towel.
Then just relax, pick up on your favourite read, fix a drink, watch TV or a film, listen to the radio or meditate. For all of an hour.

After the pack has been used always have a large glass of water. Try some cranberry juice, cider vinegar or lemon juice with your drink.