Hydrotherapy for COVID-19

Protocol for treating COVID-19

Three steps:

Step 1: Prophylactic (preventive) regime

For boosting the immune system, enabling you to fight any infection effectively. Anyone can do this.

Step 2: Early COVID regime

Use this as soon as the symptoms of a respiratory infection occur. Continue to use after diagnosis of COVID-19 if symptoms are mild, and are relieved by the regime.

Step 3: Late COVID regime

Use if Step 2 does not relieve symptoms, especially when `breathlessness and coughing, are becoming severe.

This protocol is not an alternative to standard medical care.

It is to be used in ADDITION to standard medical care. It uses heat to enhance the body's ability to fight off the coronavirus in the early stages of infection.

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, you should contact your doctor, or medical authorities, and arrange for testing. At the same time, forward the "Letter to my Doctor" (download below) if you intend to use the 2nd or 3rd steps of this protocol.

Pay attention to your doctor's advice especially if you have:

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Lung disease

You can find more information for your doctor on the Resources page.

We are in a battle against COVID-19, your doctor is a powerful ally in this battle.

This is a treatment that makes physiological sense and has anecdotal and historical evidence. There are no recent trials to support this therapy for COVID-19, but they are likely to be underway soon. N.B. Heat is a powerful treatment and must be used with common sense and an acceptance that all treatments, even natural ones like this, have risks.

Before doing any traditional hydrotherapy:

Step 1: The Prophylactic regime


Initially a Cold Shower at the end of a normal daily shower:

  1. Stand with hands on the shower controls, water running over the neck and upper back.

  2. Turn the hot water up until it is almost too hot, without burning.

  3. Run the water on the upper back and neck until you are looking forward to cold water.

  4. Quickly turn the hot water off and the cold water up, water still running on nape of neck.

  5. Initially run cold until you have a sharp intake of breath and can say, “Wow that’s cold!”

  6. Over several days, build up to 30 seconds, when you are ready for the Alternate Shower.

Step 2: Early COVID Regime

This treatment may abort the disease and prevent the chest complications that require the intensive interventions in Step 3 below.

When to begin the treatment:

Begin as soon as any symptoms occur, or preferably, as soon you feel that “something is coming on”. If diagnosed with COVID-19 continue with treatment as long as symptoms are present.

When to cease the treatment:

Continue daily for three days. This is usually sufficient, only continue if symptoms reoccur.

  1. Heat the body until sweating profusely (NOT exercise, if you have an infection, vigorous exercise may damage your heart),

  2. Keep head cool during heating with a Cold Compress.

  3. Once sweating, follow with a short, sharp cold.

  4. Dry off well, but quickly, then go to bed for at least 30 minutes, staying warm.

  5. Repeat daily for two more days. Sweating is not necessary after the first day.

When to end the heat:

  1. First treatment: Profuse sweating

  2. 2nd and 3rd treatments: the body is sufficiently warmed that patient is looking forward to the cold. Should be no longer than 20 minutes of heat.


Please do the treatment with a support person as THIS TREATMENT CAN CAUSE A DROP BLOOD PRESSURE and make you feel faint. Sit, squat or lie down immediately if you feel dizzy or light-headed.

If you already have heart problems, the heat or the sudden sharp cold could trigger HEART PALPITATIONS. To minimise this risk, keep the heart cool with an ice bag or cold compress over the left side of the chest while doing the heat treatment, and cease treatment if you feel unwell.

Treatments must be adjusted to the person and their other illnesses, especially:

  • Diabetes: use milder heat in foot bath if cannot feel heat with feet

  • Heart conditions: use milder heat and cold, be ready with ice bag for chest compression if arrhythmia

  • Pregnancy: A 2019 review found it was safe for pregnant women to sit in hot baths (40°C / 104°F) or hot/dry sauna (70°C / 158°F; 15% Relative Humidity) for up to 20 minutes, irrespective of pregnancy stage, without reaching a core temperature that would damage the fetus.

Easy practical hydrotherapy Heat at home:

Hot Foot Bath

Hot Tub Bath

Russian Steam Bath

Be creative: there are many ways to warm yourself up to sweating: remember to keep your head cool

  • wrap yourself up and sit in front of the fire or in the sunshine - use black plastic to wrap up

  • sit in the almost-closed car in warm sunshine

  • use the spa bath or sauna

  • drink hot water or before any of these (so you are being heated internally as well)

Easy but practical “short, sharp Colds” are:

  • Use the 2 litres of ice water, with added ice, that was for the cold compress during the heating treatment. At the end of heating, have the patient stand in the bath or shower and you throw the water over the patient’s upper back/nape of neck.

  • Or if winter time, a cold shower over nape of neck for long enough to elicit a sharp intake of breath and to say, “wow that’s cold!”

Caution to cold: Heart Arrhythmia

For children, toddlers:

Half bath followed by 1 litre of ice water poured quickly over the sitting child’s nape of neck. Dry quickly and keep warm in bed.

Often one treatment is sufficient, if performed early in the infection, i.e. when mum first notices that the child is not well.

When to end the heat;

Child comfortably warm.

Step 3: Late COVID-19

When to begin the treatment:

Seek medical advice EARLY if symptoms are getting worse and not relieved by Step 2. If you do not need to go to hospital/can be managed at home, these treatments can supplement the treatment advised by your medical professionals.

When to cease the treatment:

To be continued at least daily until body temperature is below 37.2℃ / 99℉ for 24 hours.

The treatment and recommendations below were those followed by hydrotherapists in the pandemic of 1918, 1919.

  1. Bed rest in a separate room with a sunny aspect and a window open for fresh air. Patient must be kept warm, only head exposed to room air. Heat bed if necessary.

  2. Eat mostly hot liquids, and soups.

  3. Drink large quantities of water. Hot water before the treatment to increase the heating effect and start sweating more quickly.

  • Hydrotherapy is performed at least daily. One treatment each day should relieve headache, body aches, chilliness. If these symptoms reoccur that day, perform the treatment again.

  • Once pneumonia develops, treat twice a day.

  • The aim of treatment is profuse sweating particularly on the first treatment with erythema (redness of the skin) over chest, back and feet.

Fomentations (moist hot packs) to chest and spine with simultaneous hot foot bath and cold compress to head followed by cold mitten friction.

  1. Close the window and blinds and heat the room before treatment.

  2. Hot Foot Bath in bed, protect the bed-clothes and sheets and blankets on top other than those the patient sleeps in. As hot as the patient can bear. Take note of Contraindications (shouldn't use this treatment if patient has this) and cautions (be careful when the patient has this) listed.

  3. Fomentations - as hot as can be borne - change when comfortable. Or use 2 heat pads if available (these are more convenient at home and in clinics) Thermophore in the US, Biothermored in Australia ($185) are the best.

  4. Cold Compress to head - to keep the head cool during heating.

  5. Finish with brisk cold mitten friction - best with two therapists.

  6. Quickly cover the patient and continue bed rest.

  7. Record details of treatment and outcome after each treatment.

  8. Temperature, pulse and respiratory rate recorded morning, noon and night.

When to end the heat:

  1. 1st treatment: Profuse sweating, and redness of feet and chest.

  2. Following sessions: Warm body, looking forward to cold, erythema (redness) of feet and chest. Maximum heat time 20 minutes. Sweating not necessary.

  3. To be continued at least daily until patient’s temperature is below 37.2℃ or 99℉ for 24 hours, and is symptom-free.

Read the detailed Fomentations procedure online or download the print version