On the first day of creation, we read in the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Genesis 1:1–3. Before He began the work of creation, before He created light, the earth, still without form and void, contained water. God gave water to the earth to be a blessing. In Genesis 2, we read of the river which flowed from Eden to water the garden. Job said, “Behold, God is great. . . For He maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour therof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.” Job 36:26–28
In science, we talk about molecules, known as a group of two or more atoms, held together by chemical bonds. Water is made up of billions of molecules, containing two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, thus its scientific name is H2O. Water is tasteless, odorless, and almost colourless. Water appears clear in small quantities; however, as seen in large bodies of water, it is a light blue colour. It is the only substance on this earth that exists naturally in three forms–a gas, liquid or solid. As a solid, it is most often known as ice; as a gas, it is referred to as a vapour. Most often when we use the word “water”, we are talking about its liquid form. Water becomes a solid at 0°C and a gas at 100°C. Water is also known as the universal solvent, as many other substances can be dissolved in water.
Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface. Oceans and seas contain 97.5% of the earth’s bodies of water. Freshwater sources only contain 2.5% of the earth’s water, with only 1% of all of earth’s water being drinkable by humans. The water in the oceans helps to regulate the earth’s climate, to maintain earth at a certain temperature that is most conducive to life. The earth’s water cycle is described as the evaporation of water from the earth’s surface, which then rises into the atmosphere. There it cools and condenses into rain or snow in the clouds, and falls again to the earth as precipitation. The water then flows from the land, from rivers and lakes, and through the porous layers of rock, with the majority of it flowing back into the oceans, where it evaporates once again, and the cycle continues. This cycle provides water for all living things, including crops, and water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
This water cycle, created by God, has been disrupted by humankind’s introduction of chemicals and industrial processes, in causing the overall temperature of the earth to increase. This is referred to as “global warming”. This warming has increased the evaporation of water on the earth’s surface, including of the oceans, leading to increased precipitation; this evaporation has also caused drying in some areas of the world. Most of the increase in temperature is held in the oceans, with negative impacts to sea life, the polar ice caps, and weather patterns. The increased frequency of extreme weather conditions such as droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, floods from increased rain and snowfall, and wildfires are attributed to the rise in the earth’s temperature. Crops are also decreasing their yields as the temperature of the earth rises.
Water is necessary to all forms of life that exist on earth. Animals, plants, humans, in fact, every creature that has life—all have water as part of their framework. It has many properties that are critical for proliferation of life.
In the human body, water makes up 45–75% of a person’s body weight. The brain is 75% water, bones 25%, blood 83%, lean muscle 75%, body fat 14%. The total percentage of water that a specific person’s body contains is reflective of the amount of body fat one has. Water is an essential component of every cell, and every cell is surrounded by water. Water is essential for digestion of food, for the absorption of vitamins and minerals, to lubricate and cushion joints, to keep the skin and mucous membranes moist; in the blood it carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Water eliminates waste through urine, sweat, feces, and exhaling. In essence, all of the body’s metabolic processes, which are necessary to sustain life, require water. Without water, our cells could not reproduce, and we would quickly die. Water regulates our body temperature, prevents dehydration, and moistens the air we breathe into our lungs. All chemical reactions in our body take place in water. The human body is a machine designed to run on water and minerals. Scientists, in their search for planets that may contain life, search for water. If a planet contains water, it can potentially support living beings. Without water, life cannot exist.
Because our bodies are so dependent on water to survive, we have to ensure that we take in adequate amounts of water so that our body can function optimally. It can take weeks or even months to die from lack of food; however, we would survive less than a week without water. Even a 2% loss of body water can result in a 20% drop in energy levels. Daily we need to replace the amount of water that is used by the body and the amount that is excreted by the body through waste. Individual daily requirements depend on one’s level of activity, heat, and humidity. Current daily recommendations are 2.7 litres for women and 3.7 litres for men. This includes water from both food and fluid intake.
Up to 20% of our water intake comes from food sources. Fruits and vegetables are 80-95% water, grains are 35% water. Once food sources are taken into account, women should drink 8 glasses of fluid a day, and men should drink 12 glasses of fluid a day. With extreme heat and physical exercise, an individual will need more. Other recommendations suggest that thirst be one’s guide to the amount of fluid needed. However, older adults experience a decreased thirst sensation and can readily become dehydrated if they rely solely on thirst to maintain adequate fluid intake.
We begin to feel thirsty once our water levels have dropped by 2%. A drop of 5% is considered dehydration; when this occurs your body does not have enough water to sustain all its functions. A drop of 10% of one’s body weight is considered fatal. Some long term effects of ongoing deficient water intake include: low blood pressure, increased clotting of blood which can lead to strokes, kidney malfunction, severe constipation, migraine headaches, weakening of the heart, and high blood sugar.
Despite the abundance of water on this earth, people in many areas of the world suffer from lack of access to safe drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, 2.1 billion people lack readily available, safe drinking water at home, and more than twice as many (4.5 billion) lack safe sanitation. Every year, 842,000 people die from diarrhea related to unsafe water, sanitation and hand hygiene; this number includes 361,000 children under the age of 5.
“In health and in sickness pure water is one of Heaven’s choicest blessings. Its proper use promotes health. It is the beverage which God provided to quench the thirst of animals and man. Drunk freely, it helps to supply the necessities of the system and assists nature to resist disease.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 419
Water, a blessing from God, is essential to human life, to its health, to all of God’s created beings, and to the health of the earth itself.
WATER AS A SPIRITUAL LESSON
We are taught beautiful lessons of Jesus’ work in behalf of man, through images of water. The message of the Gospel is “Let him that is athirst come. And whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. “The refreshing water, welling up in a parched and barren land, causing the desert place to blossom and flowing out to give life to the perishing, is an emblem of the divine grace which Christ alone can bestow, and which is as the living water, purifying, refreshing, and invigorating the soul.” –My Life Today, p. 139
Baptism, when a soul makes the decision to give up the world, to follow Jesus, and to be used in His service, is through full immersion in water. “The waters cover the candidate, and in the presence of the whole heavenly universe, the mutual pledge is made. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, man is laid in his watery grave, buried with Christ in baptism, and raised from the water to live the new life of loyalty to God.” –The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1074. Jesus gave us the example of the need for baptism when He was baptized by John in the river Jordan. “Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He identified with the sinners, taking the steps we are to take, and doing the work that we must do.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 111. After His baptism, He began His earthly ministry, which was to end with His death on the cross.
Jesus met with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well. He taught her of the gift of God in giving us living water. “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13–14. “The water that Christ referred to was the revelation of His grace in His Word. His Spirit, His teaching, is as a satisfying fountain to every soul. . . . Christ’s gracious presence in His Word is ever speaking to the soul, representing Him as the well of living water to refresh the thirsting. ” –Letter 73, 1897.
Once we receive of the living water, then we also become fountains of water, bringing life to those who we come into contact with. “He that believeth on Me, . . . out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38. “Drink deeply of the water of salvation, that it may be in your hearts as a living spring, flowing forth to refresh souls ready to perish. . . . He will make you channels for communicating His blessings.” –The Colporteur Evangelist, p. 14
When we impart the Gospel message to others, we are also strengthened. As the water cycle replenishes the earth with water, so is the same cycle when we give of the living water. “‘He that watereth shall be watered also himself.’ This is not merely a promise; it is a divine law, a law by which God designs that streams of benevolence, like the waters of the great deep, shall be kept in constant circulation, continually flowing back to their source. In the fulfilling of this law is the secret of spiritual growth.” –The Signs of the Times, June 12, 1901
“The gift of Christ to the marriage feast was a symbol. The water represented baptism into His death; the wine, the shedding of His blood for the sins of the world. The water to fill the jars was brought by human hands, but the word of Christ alone could impart to it life-giving virtue.” –The Desire of Ages. p. 148
We are given a wonderful promise of what awaits the faithful ones when Jesus comes again. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1. Throughout eternity, this river of water of life is a reminder of Jesus’ work in bringing mankind once again into perfect harmony with Him.
HISTORY OF HYDROTHERAPY
The definition of hydrotherapy, or water therapy is the use of water to relieve discomfort, treat illness and injury, and promote physical well-being. The therapeutic use of water has a long history; it is one of the oldest remedies known for healing. We find references to bathing and the use of water in Bible times, much of it associated with the laws of Moses and also in the services associated with the sanctuary. Many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians, Chinese, and Greeks considered bathing as important, and ruins of baths can be found in many of these areas. The use of steam, baths, and aromatic massage to promote wellbeing was in existence in the first century AD.
Hippocrates, a Greek physician who is considered the father of modern medicine wrote about healing with water. He noted the various sources of water in nature, that were either rain fed, such as in lakes and marshes, or from subterranean aquifers, or in mineral springs that bubbled out from the rocks. He theorized that the differing properties of healing came from the differing content of minerals contained in these water sources, including copper, iron, silver, gold, or sulfur. He wrote the famous book called On Airs, Waters, and Places. After Hippocrates, many physicians studied the healing properties of the many mineral springs in that area. In Greek medicine, water was considered an “expulsive virtue” that washes wastes and impurities from the body.
The Romans built public baths for bathing and relaxation. They often contained an open-air swimming pool, hot rooms, sweating rooms, and frigidariums or cool rooms, rooms for massage and other health treatments. Wealthy Romans also had private baths in their homes. Roman physicians wrote of treating patients with warm and cold baths in order to prevent disease. During the “Dark Ages” in Europe, bathing was not considered important, and was thought to be the cause of the many pestilences and plagues in that period of earth’s history.
Native Americans developed vapour baths. Sweating was used to cleanse the skin and purge bodies of waste. Baths were followed by plunging into a cold stream. This prevented the Native Americans from contracting the flu from French invaders. They had never been exposed to the flu brought to North America from France, and were thus susceptible to all its forms. In Finland, a hot sauna bath was followed by jumping into snow or an ice cold lake. Native Mexicans use a hot sauna to destroy disease.
By the seventeenth century, bath-houses became popular throughout Europe. Public bath-houses were built in America since the mid-1700’s. Many European countries built spas outside of mineral springs, and water therapy was considered a specialty of medicine.
FOUNDERS OF MODERN HYDROTHERAPY METHODS
As traditional medical practice began to become more formalized and professional, it alienated many patients who felt that contact with the medical profession was becoming less personal, and less understood, especially when scientific language began to be introduced. Hydrotherapy was a return to a treatment that was natural, and an acceptable alternative to those who were uncomfortable with the path that traditional medicine was taking.
Sebastian Kneipp, born in 1821, is said to be the “father of modern hydrotherapy.” He was a Bavarian priest, who began treating his parishioners with water after he himself was cured of tuberculosis after experimenting with water treatments that were in existence in his time. He developed a personalized form of hydrotherapy which took into account each patient’s strengths and weaknesses. He wrote extensively on hydrotherapy and opened a number of clinics, many of which are still in operation today.
Vincent Preissnitz (1799-1851) lived in a small village in Austria, and was considered the “founder” of modern hydrotherapy methods. Despite having very little formal education, he had a high level of intelligence, along with a keen and active mind. He enjoyed studying his natural surroundings. At age 16, he fell off a horse and was kicked in the chest by its hoof. He was told that he may become crippled or even die. He treated his chest wound with cold packs, after observing a deer bathing a wound in a cold mountain stream. His treatment was successful, and drew considerable attention. He began to treat others with cold water therapy and his fame grew as he cured many diseases in those who were considered incurable. In 1822, he built a spa by renovating his family home. By 1839, he was treating up to 1,500 people a year in his spa. This was a model for other physicians and specialists to learn the techniques of hydrotherapy. He did not discover any new methods of treating with water, but used therapies that were thousands of years old.
A famous neurologist, Dr. Winternitz observed Preissnitz’s water cures. He spent the rest of his life developing new methods of water treatment. He influenced the work of John Harvey Kellogg, who expanded the use of hydrotherapy at the Battle Creek Sanitarium which was the largest hydrotherapy treatment centre in USA at that time.
Throughout the development of hydrotherapy, there was much hostility and resistance from physicians who opposed people getting hold of a remedy that was practical, inexpensive, and could be used in any home. At one point in time, hydrotherapy was banned in New York State. Often people were cured with hydrotherapy whom physicians deemed hopeless. Today, hydrotherapy is considered an alternative medicine, extensively used by physicians, rehabilitation specialists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and naturopaths. The term encompasses a broad range of therapies that take advantage of the physical properties of water to promote healing.
“If those who are afflicted would assist nature in her efforts by the use of pure, soft water, much suffering would be prevented. Water treatments, wisely and skillfully given, may be the means of saving many lives. Let diligent study be united with careful treatments. Let prayers of faith be offered by the bedside of the sick. Let the sick be encouraged to claim the promises of God for themselves.” –My Life Today, p. 139