Hydrotherapy as a possible neuroleptic and sedative treatment

Authors: Shevchuk NA (1)
(1) Molecular Radiobiology Section, Department of Radiation Oncology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Source: Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(2):230-8
DOI: Not specified Publication date: 2008 E-Publication date: July 20, 2007 Availability: abstract Copyright: Not specified
Language: English Countries: Not specified Location: Not specified Correspondence address: nshevchuk@comcast.net


Article abstract

Psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations can have a devastating effect on a patient's social functioning. Since psychosis is rarely congenital, it is possible that lifestyle factors play a role in its etiology. This paper offers a hypothesis that some of these factors could be: (a) A lifestyle lacking evolutionarily conserved stressors such as frequent exposure to heat and/or cold, resulting in a lack of "thermal exercise" which could lead to malfunctioning of the brain. (b) Partial retention and absorption of toxic waste in the colon, as described in more detail below. (c) Genetic makeup that makes a person vulnerable to the above conditions. To test the hypothesis, three types of hydrotherapy are proposed (to be tested separately) as a putative neuroleptic treatment: head-out hot showers, adapted cold showers (twice daily each), and colon hydrotherapy (every 3-12 weeks, which also includes a dietary change according to Harvard's Healthy Eating Pyramid). The following is supporting evidence: Dopaminergic transmission in the mesolimbic pathway is involved in central processing of pain and negative stimuli (e.g. stress-induced analgesia) in addition to its role in the pathophysiology of psychosis. It is also known that if a neural pathway can perform two different functions, then the execution of one function will often suppress the other (e.g. gate control theory of pain). Thus, a pain-based therapy, such as a moderately hot shower, could have a "crowding out" effect on pathological processes within the mesolimbic system. In addition, hyperthermia is known to induce fatigue and depress activity of the frontal cortex (the sedative effect). As described previously, an adapted cold shower could work as a mild electroshock applied to the sensory cortex and, therefore, it might have an antipsychotic effect similar to that of electroconvulsive therapy. Additionally, a cold shower is a vivid example of stress-induced analgesia and would also be expected to "crowd out" or suppress psychosis-related neurotransmission within the mesolimbic system. Human and bacterial toxic waste can sometimes be partially retained in the colon and it is known that many high-molecular-weight compounds can be absorbed there. Most narcotics can cause intoxication if administered rectally and there is also significant comorbidity of schizophrenia with intestinal illnesses. Additionally, there is indirect evidence that colon cleansing can significantly improve mental state. Therefore, it is possible that chronic intoxication with yet unknown components of partially retained waste could be one of the unrecognized organic causes of psychosis.

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