Cold water swimming: An internal medicine specialist, Dr Walter Bortz, at Stanford University School of Medicine recommends the European tradition of saunas and cold water swimming after training for it. He cites Darwin’s, “…of the Indians of Tierra del Fuego, bobbing up and down in the iceberg – Laden waters of the Magellan Passage”.
Polio virus 1 is spread by water. So, what about ocean water swimming? Apparently, ocean water inactivates the polio virus. A researcher showed that marine (ocean) water reduces or inactivates the polio virus in 5-6 days at 24 degree centigrade. This ocean water was from the gulf of mexico. However, since the researcher did not specifically advertise the Gulf of mexico, I doubt if the researcher would gain by increasing health tourism to the ocean in that area.
In all likelihood, ocean water from any region of the world should have the same inactivating effect on polio virus 1 and perhaps similar viruses. We have heard about the healing ocean water of Bath, England; and the healing ocean water of Barbados. Other researchers have been trying to understand how ocean water inactivates water pathogens like the polio virus but they are still searching for answers with papers like “Potentiation of virucidal activity of sterilized natural water“. Suffice to summarize that scientists fail to understand so far what makes sea water so dangerous for what humans would consider pathogens, safe for other micro-flora, and hence, safe for humans to swim.
Now, why is it considered healing to swim in ocean water or breathe the ocean air?Again, scientists have no explanation. However, they have been trying to re-create the communal baths of ancient Rome and India in our modern, chlorinated swimming pools. Largely, they have been successful with the disinfection provided chlorine. However, chlorine does not remove all human pathogens. Mycobacterium species can evade chlorine. Also, chlorine is used in lower doses in drinking and swimming water nowadays, than when it was first introduced to lower other health risks from high exposure to chlorine related secondary products.
So, what about chlorination of drinking water? It was highly controversial when it was introduced in drinking water to rid it of pathogens. Most city water is now made safer to drink with chlorination although environmental safety guides have recommended adding a filter to remove fluoride and lead from old pipes.
Australia, since 2006, has asked residents to collect rain water to carry them through drought conditions. This has been the norm in India even until the 19th century with no known adverse issues; and probably was used in other ancient cultures, which I am unaware of. The Maharaja of Jaipur, of India had a simple but effective rain water collecting system that ran throughout his palace, on the ground. I recently visited in 2006 and was impressed that such an extensive but simple solution to water shortage occurred in the 19th century in a country labelled “under-developed” by the Western world.
Rain water: Floods and heavy rain is causing havoc among residents all over the world with global warming. I wonder if any country other than Australia has made it a policy to collect rain water for house – hold purposes. With global warming and rising water levels it makes sense to catch the millions of gallons of rain water before it hits the ground and is considered a nuisance. I am surprised even modern India is ignoring it’s own ancient art of storing rain water. Australian scientists have started studying the presence of pathogens in rain water collected from roof-tops and are concerned about bird feces and other issues.
The problems that Australia has with collecting rain water will obviously be worked out. However, unless one begins to see the obvious health benefits and advantages of swimming in natural, healthier ocean water over chlorinated swimming pools, we cannot begin to make our children healthier than our grandparents. In addition, with growing populations we need more water. An obvious solution is to look at the clouds and collect rain water directly in each house-hold through modern systems that engineers can innovate to collect and “sterilize” for individual houses or small communities.
Links to consider: On Dr Walter Bortz’s recommendation, you may want to consider becoming a member of the ‘Polar Bears Club‘ located around the world.
Also, you may want to research methods to conserve rain water. Join the ‘Rain water harvesting‘ committee.