General Principles of Steam Therapy

This section includes presentations on:

  • General Principles of Steam Therapy (see below)
  • Steam Therapy & the Respiratory System Respiratory System 
  • Steam Therapy & Detoxification, Sweating & Hyperthermia  Detoxification


Steam therapy is an essential therapeutic transformational option as a modality for holistic health & wellness. From the most ancient traditions of holistic health & wellness to modern times, steam therapy has been an essential element of integrated and multiple approaches in the pursuit of optimal health & wellness. The following is a brief summary of ideas on steam therapy. A complete description of these key concepts can be found in the textbook on hydrotherapy that I authored, published by Milady Publishing. The book will be available in Jan, 2008. 

During a steam therapy treatment, a therapist brings steam into contact with client's body to create a therapeutic health & wellness transformation. The first step of the process is that the therapist prepares the steam to be used in the treatment in various ways by including heating the water and adding products to the steam. The steam is then brought into contact with the client's body to produce a desired therapeutic transformation. All water used for steam therapy, as well as any other form of hydrotherapy, comes from some source in the hydrosphere. The following is an brief explanation of what is meant by the hydrosphere.

Steam Therapy & the Human Body

Steam therapy is such a powerful transformational tool because the human body is a dynamic fluid system. The essence of steam therapy is that we use water to transform the behavior of water inside the human body and in doing so, we can produce therapeutic transformations at every levels of the anatomy & physiology of the human body. Water is an essential dynamic component of every element of human physiology. The following are some of the elements of the human body from the paradigm of the body as a dynamic fluid cellular system:

Human Body A&P 

  • 60% H2O (water). This means that a person that weighs 140 lbs. has 10 gallons of water (84 lbs. of water)
  • 66% of the water inside the cells (6.6 gallons), 27% (2.7 gallons) of the water is in the interstitial fluid which is the fluid matrix cells live in, 7% (.7 gallons) of water is in the blood plasma. Illustration of Human Body Fluid Elements  Link
  • The heart pumps 3,600 gallons of blood a day through a vascular system of arteries, veins and capillaries that is greater than 60,000 miles long.  Illustration of Human Body Circulation  Link
  • The main purpose of the circulatory system is bring a continual supply of nutrients and oxygen to each of the 100 trillion cells of the human body.
  • Each day, 5 gallons of blood plasma will flow through the capillaries into the interstitial fluid (to bring nutrients to the cells) and each day 4.25 gallons of interstitial fluid will flow back into the blood plasma in the capillaries and .75 gallons will flow through the lymphatic system back to the blood plasma. This allows the removal of the by-products of cell metabolism and purification of the interstitial fluid.
  • Each day, 45 gallons of blood plasma will be removed and processed by the kidneys. About 44.5 gallons will be returned to the blood plasma and about 2 quarts/liters will be removed from the body in the form of urine.
  • Each day, on average the human body naturally loses 2.5 quarts of water, mainly in the form of urine, sweat and evaporation from the skin and lungs. More will be lost if there is sweating due to the body being heated. The amount of water lost each day must be replaced to stay optimally hydrated. Every 20 days, a person will lose more than 12 gallons of water!

Water can be used in steam therapy to produce significant positive therapeutic changes in the A&P of the body which can produce holistic benefits to attain all health & wellness goals 

  • Increases the metabolic activity of the cells of the body. For every degree centigrade increase in the core temperature, there is a 12% increase in the metabolic activity of the cells.
  • Increase of the core temperature of the body has a stimulating influence of the immune functions of the body.
  • Circulation to cells can be increased as increased cellular metabolism increases circulation to the cells to provide more oxygen and nutrients. 
  • General circulation, including lymphatic circulation can be stimulated.
  • Improvements can be produced in vascular and cellular alignment. All cells have a natural alignment relative to every other cell in the body and no cell is more than 5 cells from a capillary (exceptions are the epidermis and cartilage disks)
  • Heating the core temperature of the body allows the body's fascial matrix, ligament, tendons and muscles to stretch with less resistance. This allows for greater alignment when using therapeutic alignment approaches.
  • Steam therapy treatments, when properly done, create unique and profound states of relaxation. Deep states of relaxation helps balance the autonomic nervous system, which is general over-stimulated. Greater autonomic balance can have a beneficial influence on most physiological activities of the body.

Deepest Connections with Water

Another important element of hydrotherapy is that every person has a natural connection with water and our deepest connections with water come from our first life experiences. All people are all born in the warm fluid environment of the mother's womb and our earliest memories are warmth, movement and gravity-free sensations. And once we are born, our earliest experiences are of being constantly touched and bathed in warm water while being touched. These earliest memories of being nurtured, comforted, loved are associate with our earliest experiences of different sensations of water and are naturally awakened during soothing, relaxing hydrotherapy treatments, especially when touch is involved. In the same way that are memories and associations with different smells can be enlivened with aromatherapy, our earliest water memories and associations can be enlivened by water treatments. And, water therapies can be enhanced by the addition of other sensory stimulations in the form of smells, sounds, sights and tastes. Enlivening our deepest memories of nurturing, comfort and security produce profound therapeutic benefits.

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History of Steam Therapy

Hydrotherapy has been an essential component of all great holistic health & wellness traditions, some which are more than a  thousands of years old and continue today. The history of hydrotherapy, from ancient times, to within a few hundred years and to more modern times demonstrates the use of hydrotherapy through time and its ability to used for all health & wellness transformations. The history of hydrotherapy is both fascinating and the source of the wisdom of hydrotherapy. Presentation on the History of Steam Therapy

Why Steam Therapy? Summary

 The following is a summary of some the key reasons why offering hydrotherapy treatments and programs offers such great potential to enhance a total approach to health & wellness:  

  • Steam therapy uses water as the essential transformation tool and these treatments include hydrotub, hydro-massage, steam, shower, misting, cryotherapy (ice), hydro-massage table & hydration. Steam therapy treatments are a powerful modality to help clients attain and maintain all of their health & wellness goals.
  • Steam therapy treatments have an continuous history of use from ancient times to modern time. Hydrotherapy has such a long and successful history because they work.
  • Scientific theory and research offers support for the use of steam therapy Scientific Theory & Research
  • Steam therapy treatments & programs can increase the number treatments and programs that can offered to your clients. The positive experiences of the treatments and the benefits can increase the number of treatments current clients are receiving, client retention and the number of new clients getting treatments.
  • Leaning the art & science of new treatment modalities is rewarding and enriching for therapists. Continuing education is not just a requirement for professional therapists, but is a natural part of a therapist's motivation to continually develop their professional skills.
  • Through education and training in hydrotherapy, we learn more about the natural universe we live in. Water, in all its beautiful expressions, is one of key elements of the Earth's dynamic natural systems. By becoming more aware and conscious of all of the expression of water, how water behaves and the nature of water as the essence of every living system, we learn more about water in Nature and increase our connection with water. From a distance, we can view the total water system of Earth as one system that unites and connects all living systems.
  • And by using water as a key element in health & wellness transformations, we become more intuitively connected with the deeper process of true healing and wellness transformations. Water is the essence of the matrix of life and and a part  natural healing transformations of the human body.