[Repeated cold water stimulations (hydrotherapy according to Kneipp) in patients with COPD]

Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Jun;14(3):158-66. doi: 10.1159/000101948. Epub 2007 Jun 22.
[Article in German]


Background: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often suffer from exacerbations caused by infections of the bronchial tract.

Objective: What effects do hydrotherapeutic applications according to Kneipp have on lung function, blood gases, immune system and quality of life of patients with COPD?

Patients and methods: 20 patients with COPD (17 males, 3 females); mean age: 64; forced expiratory volume (FEV1): 62 of 100% (on average); no acute exacerbations, no oral corticosteroids. Measurements were performed (I) at 10 weeks pre-treatment, (II) immediately before therapy (I-II: baseline-period), (III) after 10 weeks treatment with 3 cold affusions and 2 cold washings of the upper part of the body (self-treatment) per week each, (IV) 3 months after completion of the treatment (follow- up). The following parameters were measured: lung function, blood gases, routine lab, experimental lab (interleukines, lymphocytes), maximal expiratory flow (PEF), quality of life and respiratory infections.

Results: The pH increased over the course of the study. PEF and the number of lymphocytes significantly increased over the treatment (II-III). Intracellular expression of IL-4 by T lymphocytes decreased. However, the expression of IFN-gamma increased. Frequency of infections was lower during follow-up (IV) than before and during therapy. Quality of life after treatment was estimated to be good in all patients.

Conclusions: Repeated cold stimulations (affusions) can influence the frequency of respiratory infections and improve subjective well-being. It may cause an immunological modulation in terms of the Th1-type pattern.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome