So you’re looking to take your detox one step further? Welcome to the wet and wild world of hydrotherapy!

Hydrotherapy, or water-therapy, is an ancient practice dating back hundreds of years used all over the world. It’s a pretty broad category and can include everything from icing your sprained ankle, to using a sauna or taking an ice bath. Since most people don’t have access to their own saunas, we are going to talk about a very easy way you can incorporate hydrotherapy in the comfort of your own home!

Many cultures celebrate the wonders of water therapy not just because of its healing ability, but because it makes you feel amazing. It’s no wonder when the benefits can include:

  • Increased circulation
  • Increased lymphatic movement
  • Promote the release of endorphins (ie feel-good hormones!)
  • Improved healing and immune response
  • Stimulate the nervous system
  • Improve energy and detoxification

Sounds like magic right? Here’s how it works:

Although there still needs to be more research on the subject it’s understood that contrast showers act by dilating and then constricting your blood vessels and skin pores. The hot water opens your blood vessels while the cold water tightens them up again. This alternating opening and closing of the blood vessels results in a pumping action that improves the removal of waste and cellular debris.

Although you can use contrast showers anytime of the year, a perfect time to start is during the fall when the temperature starts dropping and your immune system is the most vulnerable to infection. I also find that my temperature regulation in general and my ability to withstand changes in temperature is greatly improved when I’ve been doing contrast showers regularly.

Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps:

  1. At the end of your normal shower routine, gradually lower the water temperature until you reach a tolerable level of cold. Stay under the cold water for about 30 seconds. Make sure you get your back and front!
  2. After 30 seconds gradually increase the temperature up to a tolerable hot, and rewarm your body (back and front!) for about 90 seconds.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a total of 3-5 cycles. Always make sure you finish your shower with cold water.

Not everyone has a clock or timer in their shower, so the two most important things to keep in mind are a 3:1 ratio of hot/cold, and to always end on cold. I recommend starting with once or twice a week and then upping it to three to five times once you get in the groove.

I know what you’re thinking: “No one wants to take a cold shower in the morning!” Trust me, once you go through the cycle a couple of times your tolerance for the cold water will increase and afterwards you will feel super energized. Then, after a few contrast showers you can play with colder/hotter water to increase the intensity. The greater the temperature difference between hot and cold, the greater the therapeutic effects.

One of my other favorite contrast hydrotherapy treatments is is going to a hydrotherapy spa with friends or solo. Usually Hydrotherapy spas have a variety of hot springs, cold pools, saunas, and steam baths that can be used in the same 3:1 hot/cold cycle. It’s VERY relaxing and a great self-care option especially if you are feeling really rundown.

Enjoy and showering!

Dr. Nadia Kumentas ND

** PS. Unfortunately contrast showers may not be for everybody. If you have any of the following conditions, consult your healthcare provider before trying contrast showers:

Any heart or vascular condition
Raynaud’s syndrome
Cold urticaria or cold induced thrombosis
Difficulty feeling temperature changes
Autoimmune disease


Dr. Nadia Kumentas is a Toronto based naturopathic doctor, tea drinker, yoga doer, and plant enthusiast. She is also the co-founder of Affect Health, a professionally formulated medicinal tea company. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.