Water therapy is the practice of drinking up to 2 litres (70oz) of water on waking each morning. The theory is that doing so will rehydrate cells, boost metabolism, support the body's natural detoxification processes, and thereby reduce inflammation. Proponents believe that when done correctly and consistently it can cure (or at the very least alleviate the symptoms of) numerous ailments – arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal complaints, gynaecological conditions, migraine, skeletal disorders, sinusitis, urinary diseases ... to name but a few.
The technique has its roots in ancient ayuvedic medicine, and was popularised in England in the nineteenth century by Drs James Manby Gully and James Wilson, who counted Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale, Lord Tennyson and Samuel Wilberforce among their patients. In an 1850 treatise, The Water Cure in Chronic Disease, Gully detailed his treatment programme, the cornerstone of which was drinking copious amounts of water on an empty stomach.
Although I've encountered it again and again over the last few years – David Wolfe touched on it in the documentary Food Matters, Cameron Diaz wrote at length about the benefits in The Body Book, you can't read about longevity without being told how popular water therapy is in Japan – it didn't occur to me to try it myself until very recently. I was skeptical: it sounded almost too simple.
Turns out, it's really not. Hardcore advocates drink 2 litres(!!!) However, 640ml is generally considered to be the optimum amount. But even that seems like a lot. Especially when you've just woken up. Articles online said that your body adjusts, which is true: on the first morning I managed half of one glass (150ml) and felt doomed to failure; by the second week, I could drink all 640ml in a couple minutes.
Also, there is a little bit of rigamarole. You have to drink the water as soon as you wake up. Then go brush your teeth. Then refrain from eating or drinking anything for 45 minutes (time to shower/dress/meditate/go back to bed). Then drink another glass of water. Then wait another 30 mins. Then eat breakfast.
But then that's it. You can go on with the rest of your day as normal. Well, kind of. If I drink the water at 7am, by midday I will have peed about five times. So if you're going to do it, you're going to want to stay close to a bathroom. (Apparently, some people find that umm... other functions are more efficient too, but it doesn't have that effect on me.)
It does, however, give me more energy, far more of an appetite for food, and my skin is better than it's been in a long time. So while I can't say it's cured me of anything (if we're not counting my bad case of cynicism...) I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.