Bruce Thompson - Thermotherapy Consultant
BAppSc - Physiotherapy
I love to see people who have suffered chronic disease, find the freedom to get their lives back using simple therapy and lifestyle change.
When I studied physiotherapy back in the 1970s I learned how to safely apply heat and cold to the skin. Since then I have applied hot packs, fomentations, and various forms of electrical heating to aching joints and muscles, and many ice packs and ice massages. This has stood me in good stead when I came across...
Early in my physiotherapy career, I was introduced to traditional hydrotherapy. In contrast to aquatic hydrotherapy, this branch of hydrotherapy consists of hot and cold baths and showers to treat acute diseases. Many of these treatments have been used for thousands of years. As I looked into this therapy, I was surprised at the positive effects of such simple treatments.
Traditional hydrotherapy reached its peak in Europe and the US as the frontline medical treatment for most diseases in the early 1900s and was only displaced when antibiotics became more convenient. Speaking with older hydrotherapists here in Australia, in Asia, and in the US, I was able to collect the best medical textbooks from the early 1900s and got to practice the techniques. My notes and summaries of the textbooks eventually became the online encyclopedia, Traditional Hydrotherapy.
During the 1980s I designed 3 hydrotherapy departments in Thailand and trained the staff. Back in Australia, my wife and I have conducted weekend "Hydrotherapy for the Home" seminars in NSW, Victoria, and South Australia.
Hydrotherapy dealt with the acute diseases that killed people back in 1900, today chronic and non-communicable diseases are our major killers. I didn't think that hydrotherapy had a part in treating lifestyle disease.
I had been the hydrotherapist at community and residential intensive lifestyle-change programs since the early 1980s. It was at these programs that I developed my love for seeing people with life-limiting chronic disease, change their diet, activity level, sleep patterns, etc. and in just days, achieve major improvements in their chronic health conditions. I attributed these changes in blood pressure, cholesterol, and pain levels, to the food and exercise but it wasn't until COVID in 2020 that I came across the research showing that the hot and cold treatments have an effect beyond just relaxation.
At ATUNE our main form of whole-body heating is the infra-red sauna. Interventional studies have shown that regular sauna use improves the health of people with congestive heart failure, chronic headaches, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes. Large observational studies show dementia is prevented or delayed. Lyme disease too has reported benefits from body heating. And on the cold end of the spectrum, whole body cryotherapy has been recommended as an adjunct to the treatment of fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Reading the research I realised that in chronic disease, thermotherapy (including hot and cold treatments that don't involve water like infra-red sauna and cryotherapy, as well as traditional hydrotherapy techniques) is an adjuvant to lifestyle change, medications, and any other treatment. An adjuvant is something added that multiplies the effect of a vaccine or drug.
A second insight was that my practical experience with traditional protocols established over millennia enabled me to individualise the protocols used in the research. Maybe with some tweaks, we could get even better results for people with these chronic diseases.
Thermotherapy at ATUNE
I have some ambitious goals as I come to ATUNE. To be honest, they look impossible just now, especially no. 2 below, but I feel compelled to step up when I see so many people suffering these conditions, and realise that my background may have uniquely equipped me to relieve some of that suffering.
So, my goals are to work with people who have the conditions listed above, and with the other practitioners at ATUNE, to:
- Develop individualisable protocols for each disease, that, in combination with lifestyle change, lead to major improvements in the lives of the people that we see with these conditions.
- Test the protocols with randomised controlled studies.
- Publish the results and the protocols in medical journals, and for the public, on the Thermotherapy Now website.
- Move on to the next chronic disease and repeat steps 1 to 3.
You are welcome to join me on the journey.