Cold Towel Rub

Cold Towel Rub - treating the back


from Hydrothermic Remedies...

Usually water temperature is 10-15°C, 10°C is best.

Tonic Antipyretic Refrigerants Fluxion


Friction over a cold towel spread over the surface.

Effects and Indications


Because of little chance of internal congestion, can be used where the Wet Sheet Rub is contraindicated ie

  1. Acute Renal Congestion or Inflammation
  2. Pulmonary Haemorrhage or Intestinal Haemorrhage
  3. Cardiac Insufficiency especially chest, arms and legs, begin on arms and finish on chest
  4. Fevers - saturated towel, repeated applications, renewed frequently, heavy rubbing
  5. Feebleness - Hot Towel Rub - 60-70°C - same procedure - little effect so rub longer

Sedative or Depression

  1. after Fomentations or prolonged heat treatments - Very Cold, very dry towel.

Graduated Tonic Cold for

  1. Debility in ...
    1. Anaemia
    2. Chronic Indigestion
    3. Neurasthenia - especially back
    4. Tuberculosis - or lungs, glands (scrofula), skin (lupus) or bones
    5. Rheumatoid Arthritis
    6. High uric acid level in Gout
    7. Diabetes
    8. Rickets
    9. Scurvy and Purpura
    10. Haemophilia
    11. Obesity
    12. Emaciation
    13. Dyspepsia
    14. Gastric Ulcer
    15. Cardiac Insufficiency of any cause


very rare

Do not apply to chest in...

  1. Asthma
  2. Very weak heart


  1. Cold towel for head
  2. Several linen towels for application
  3. Sheet or towel for drying
  4. Sheet and blanket for wrapping
  5. Basin of water for application
  6. Another basin 10°C lower


Friction over a cold Towel spread over the surface.

Order of treatment:

The patient should assist by holding the towel, wet and dry.

  1. Chest
  2. Each arm
  3. Each leg
  4. Back
  5. Back of each leg
  6. Finally the feet.


  • Wet the face, head and neck with a towel using the colder water then wrap as a turban.
  • Uncover the part to be treated, wring a linen towel very dry, apply smoothly to part, rub rapidly until towel is warm.
  • Hands are rubbed on the towel, NOT towel on skin. Intermittent pressure assisting the circulation is important not irritation.
  • Move hands in long, rapid, alternating strokes over the whole area, to avoid chilling. Alternate with gentle percussion.
  • Remove the now warmed towel. Place it in the colder basin.
  • Cover the area with a dry towel and rub until dry and Reddened from the reaction.
  • Repeat on opposite side
  • When wet towel is needed take it out of the colder basin, wring, place in warmer, wring again and place on patient.
  • Usually water temperature is 10-15°C, 10°C is best.

Completion of Treatment

  • Cover patient so they are dry and warm. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.


from Dr JH Kellogg's Hydriatic Techniques...

15, 5-24°C

Tonic Antipyretic Refrigerants Fluxion


  • Cold towel for head
  • 3 linen towels for application
  • a sheet or towel for drying
  • sheet and blanket for wrapping,
  • 2 basins of water for application, one at 10°C the other 15°C


  • Rub over the wet towel then a dry towel
  • Towel wrung from cool or cold water, spread out over a large area
  • Rub over the towel, one area at a time until whole towel is warm
  • Remove towel, dry area and cover
  • Dip in cold water, wring, and apply to opposite or adjacent area
  • Repeat until whole body is done especially limbs.

Used as:


where Wet Sheet Rub is contraindicated ie for

Graduated Tonic Cold for


  • in mild fevers or feeble or Retention Fevers saturated towel, repeated applications, renewed frequently, heavy rubbing


Do not apply to chest in:


from Dr GK Abbott's Prescriptions...

  • Graduate by decreasing the temperature of the water. 20-15°C
  • Rub over the towel not with the towel