Apart from the obvious—drinking water—there are many other therapeutic benefits to water. Because of its fluid nature, when you experience any kind of muscle stiffness or spasms, there's nothing quite so relaxing and liberating as getting into a warm bath. I was once suffering from quite a severe lower backache, and someone recommended that when I was in the shower to alternate between hot and cold water for about five minutes, focusing on my area of pain—30 seconds hot, then 30 seconds cold. This increases circulation and causes the muscles to expand and contract. After doing this several times, my backache was completely gone.
Whenever possible, I try to visit a natural hot springs, as I just love the feeling of getting into natural therapeutic waters, particularly if there's a hot and a cold pool available. I had a 10-hour layover at the Tokyo airport last year, and I took myself to a traditional Japanese bath house. I was the only person there who spoke English, and I spent all day getting in and out of what looked like tea baths. I have no idea what was in them and nobody was able to explain to me, but at the end of the day, I got on my plane bound for L.A. feeling like a newborn baby.
To reduce a fever, it is often recommended to apply an ice pack to the body, but towels dipped in cold water and wrung out will be equally effective. Wrap the cold towel around the body and then wrap up in a bath towel or blanket until you break a sweat. Alternatively, you can put cold towels on the forehead to draw out a fever, changing them once they start to heat up. If you're feeling like waking yourself up, there's nothing quite like a cold shower or a dip in the ocean to get the energy and circulation moving.
The Water Challenge
Little steps can have a big impact. I'm going to offer you a challenge, and no you don't have to climb a mountain or run a marathon, you simply have to drink some water. Just for a week, starting whenever you feel ready, every time you're feeling the thirst, instead of reaching for a soda or an ice-cold beer, reach instead for a glass of water. If you have a water filter, even better—the purer the water, of course the better. If you don't have a filter, you will find that many health food stores or supermarkets have a water filtration system where you can fill up large bottles with purified water for a small price.
I love to make jugs of naturally flavored waters with fruits, vegetables and herbs—they're delightfully refreshing and served in large glass jugs, make a lovely predinner drink at a dinner party. To make the infusion, you can start with cold water or, for a stronger flavor, with hot (not boiling) water, as this will help extract flavor. Set the water aside until cool and you can chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, or add some ice cubes. Children will enjoy the flavored water with a little natural sweetener added, such as maple or agave syrup. Here are some of my favorite combinations:
- Slices of orange, lemon and lime with fresh mint sprigs
- Lemon and cucumber
- Pineapple chunks and slices of fresh ginger
- Dried rosebuds or rose petals—you can use fresh, but the dried have a more concentrated flavor
- Fresh or dried lavender
Whiskey in the Irish language translates as "uisce beatha," which literally means "water of life." Is there any wonder we can't get enough of the stuff?
Some people claim that drinking their water emissions—a.k.a. urine therapy—has magical health benefits. To each their own—I think I'll stick with my whiskey!