An aquatics colleague writing about water's healing power, introduced me to a piece of American health history that I had missed, when she referenced the 1930s book below. It would be a good read for anyone who wants to understand how some of the ideas still active in spas (especially under American influence) gained popularity.
My partner had the 1975 (5th edition) of this book in his library, since it was a survival bible for many an Ozarks-bound back-to-the-lander. It sounds as if it still is an important reference for health conscious people seeking self-sufficiency, though the language and some of the ideas are definitely those of the last century.
Back to Eden: The Classic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Natural Foods and Home Remedies by Jethro Kloss (original edition copyright 1939 Jethro Kloss. Authentic Kloss Family Edition copyright the heir of Jethro Kloss 1975, 5th edn, Woodbridge Press Publishing Company).
Kloss was a staunch Christian - he believed that God gave health to the good and the sinful in equal measure, and that it is Nature that is the Grand and Great Healer. Most of his book is devoted to herbal and dietary remedies emphasizing home self-care. He was associated with Seventh-Day-Adventist John Harvey Kellogg's Sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan, and followed very similar health practices.
Kellogg and Kloss both promoted the use of hydrotherapy. Their ideas were based on water cure (a synonym for hydropathy and later hydrotherapy) practices developed in the early 19th century in Europe, mostly involving cold water. The Americans used both hot and cold treatments and combined hydrotherapy with other therapeutic modalities.
Read more on this Wikipedia link for Water Cure, which has many good references.
The most recent edition of Kloss' book is published by Lotus Press, 2004. A description on Amazon reads: 'Now in its expanded, updated revised edition, this is the original classic text (with more than 5-million copies sold) that helped create the natural foods industry. It remains today one of the major texts on herbs, natural diet and lifestyle and wholistic health.'
I haven't seen the latest edition so I'm not sure how 'original text' and 'updated/revised' can exist side by side. I understand from the preface to volume I have, that there have been many unofficial copies of the original text which the Kloss family did not approve. When it comes to using the remedies, check the information against your own commonsense and current medical understanding.