EVERFIT Book review : My Water Cure by Sebastian Kneipp
Book Reviews, September 30, 2019
The sub title of the book reads “as tested through more than thirty years and described for the healing of diseases and the preservation of health” It is always so gratifying to read a book that resonates with your own beliefs and wellness habits. The fact this one was written over 130 years ago shows that the modern simple wellness messages are not new.
"neither a genius nor a magician, but a simple man of the people, whose natural gifts and shrewd insight into human nature have been matured and developed by the patient toil of half a century.” A De F
Sebastian left home at 21 to train as a weaver apprentice but since his childhood he had something “very different inscribed on the leaves of his heart”. He wished to be a priest. Over his last two years of training he became very ill with tuberculosis. Back in the mid 1800's tuberculosis was almost a death sentence. In the absence of effective treatment 2 out of 3 died within 5 years of diagnosis. The medical team looking after him were unable to halt the progression of the disease. During this time Sebastian would read books for distraction and he came across a book about the healing power of cold water written by a Dr. He was filled with hope. The little book gave him something to grasp onto. He tried the methods for 6 months with no improvement but the disease did not progress. During the winter of 1849 he would find a lonely spot by the river Danube 2 or 3 times a week and immerse himself in the water. In 1850 he began his study at the seminary and found another student with even a more advanced perilous case of tuberculosis. This poor student was not issued a health certificate necessary for entry to the course due to the fact he was close to death. This student on deaths door joined Sebastian on his Dunube dunks; was cured, and was still practicing as a priest when the book was first published in 1880’s. Pastor Kneipp made some timeless statements regarding health and Wellness throughout the book.
He talked about society suffering from “colds and catarrhs (coughing mucus up)” when transitioning between seasons and how when the system was made more robust this didn't have to be the case. During Sebastian Kneipp's next 30 years he modified his application of the cold water treatment to make it more tolerable to certain individuals. He would get patients to walk in cold water up to their knees and full immersion was rarely more than 5 minutes for people unaccustomed to the practice. Unlike Wim Hof these days he never started patients in ice baths choosing to start people with water as cold as they could tolerate and progressed from that point (beginners to the “water cure” and especially the aged or very young were permitted to start at 17-18 degree water until they grew accustomed to colder temperatures). He did state “The colder the better is the motto which experience has taught me to cling to....snow in the water is highly to be recommended.”
“The marvellous harmony in the construction of the human frame must be admitted by all....man (and women) external and internal sings but one song of glorification....this beautiful harmony and order which we call health may be upset and disturbed by various interruptions which we designate by the name of illness....what ever is too much or too little in the process of circulation disturbs the equilibrium, the harmony of the whole, causes dissension in the parts, puts sickness in the place of health.” Kneipp
Take away points from the book
-Start a cold water practice. Don’t start too quickly maybe 3 x week showers with the last 10sec cold, or even a walk in a cold body of water up to your knees for 5min; then progress as the system adapts.
“Most emphatically I warm against too violent or too frequent application of cold water....transforming this healing element into an agent of destruction and changing the patients confidence into terror and disgust.”
-Eat fruit, vegetables, grainy bread, and don’t drink alcohol to excess. Meat should be limited
“Refrain from drinking during meals in order that everything we eat may be thoroughly amalgamated with the pure saliva.”