Sebastian Kneipp, the healing power of water

Sebastian Kneipp, the healing power of water

Photo credit: Kur- und Tourismusbetrieb Bad Wörishofen

Image by silviarita from Pixabay

“Nature has provided us generously with everything we need to remain in good health.”

– Sebastian Kneipp,
the German priest sought to treat the entire person, mind, body and soul…

Year 2021 marks the 200th birthday Sebastian Kneipp (1821–1897), the German Catholic pastor who in addition to his profession, was also involved in naturopathic activities. Due to his healing activities, naturopathy has gained a whole new momentum. Kneipp has developed a world-famous hydrotherapy method that is still known as the Kneipp cure.

At a young age, Sebastian Kneipp suffered from tuberculosis, and medicine at the time seemed to be helpless. Kneipp was almost in the final stage of the disease when he came across Johann Sigmund Hahn’s book: The Cure of Cold Water. Having read that book he decided to take naked short baths in the icy Danube. Soon his health condition began to improve miraculously. He continued to bathe at home, which made him completely recover. After this, he first began to give advice to his close acquaintances but later his healing knowledge reached Wörishofen. To satisfy the increased interest, he published a book, which was such a great success that more and more pilgrims wishing to recover visited him. It was then that he conceived the idea of founding a medical institution in Wörisheim.

“The best health measures are those that also make you feel strengthening.”

Sebastian Kneipp’s principle was that the soul and body of man could only be healed in unity. His five pillar-based health care methods aim to preserve and heal the harmony of body, soul and spirit.

The five pillars of the cure are: hydrotherapy, nutrition (whole foods, low sugar and fat, no alcohol, nicotine and caffeine), exercise (endurance sports), herbs and so-called balance therapy.

Water is the core pillar of the Kneipp’s Therapy.Initially, the treatment was limited to water treatment only, but later Kneipp supplemented it with advice on diet and lifestyle changes.

Photo credit: Kur- und Tourismusbetrieb Bad Wörishofen

The idea of hydrotherapy is based on the assumption that through the skin, the most diverse stimuli can be elicited with water of different temperatures. Thus, the essence of the cure is based on the fact that cold water constricts the skin vessels while distracting heat from the body. From thermoregulation and metabolism point of view, skin plays a much more important role than we might think as several nerve endings can be found in the skin cells. Hydrotherapy affects the nerve system through the skin. They harmonize heart function, metabolism, blood circulation, respiration, immune system, and glandular activity. They help the skin clearing, its excretory function and the development of mental balance. A great advantage of hydrotherapy is that in most cases patients can use it on their own.

Photo credit: Kur- und Tourismusbetrieb Bad Wörishofen

Kneipp treatment relieves cardiovascular disorders, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disorders and pain, as hydrotherapy stimulates and trains the metabolism immune system and blood circulation.

“Movement increases the zest for life and helps people by strengthening their bodies.”

Proper diet, aerobic sports, herbal treatments and a well-structured agenda further enhance the impact of hydrotherapies.

The hometown of kneipping

In Bad Wörishofen, the hometown of kneipping, the variety of treatments include 130 different types of showers, baths, wrappings, compresses and rinsing. The Kneipp cure is more relevant today than ever before, however, the therapy today is used under medical supervision and supplemented with other therapies if necessary. The original philosophy has survived with some methods adapted to modern needs though.

 

In May, Bad Wörishofen (in Bavaria) will house the central bicentennial celebrations organized by the German Kneipp-Bund, the largest non-profit German health association founded in 1891 together with its more than 500 regional Kneipp-Vereine and associated institutions. As part of the bicentenary, Kneipp’s portrait will be featured on a special 2021 stamp and a 2021 collector silver coin, both issued by the German government.

 

To show their acknowledgment, the German UNESCO Commission has included “Kneippism – Traditional Knowledge and Practice According to Sebastian Kneipp” in the Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in December 2015.

Photo credit: Kur- und Tourismusbetrieb Bad Wörishofen

Photo credit: Kur- und Tourismusbetrieb Bad Wörishofen

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