A natural method of stimulating the immune system and zapping a cold or flu is called the “wet sock treatment.” The treatment, which is commonly prescribed by physicians at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, involves putting on ice-cold socks and … are you ready for this? … sleeping in them!
It may sound strange, but it works because it rallies the body’s defenses, according to Jamey Wallace, ND, chief medical officer at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. And the best part about it is that it uses the healing power of nature and doesn’t cost anything.
The treatment is known as a "heating compress,” meaning that it's up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks, says Dr. Wallace. “The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system. You have to ‘rev up’ the immune system, so it’s ready for battle against the affliction or condition.”
This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat. It also has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. The treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.
The wet sock treatment is used in conjunction with other modalities to treat inflammation, infection or soreness of the throat, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis and sinus infections.
It’s best to start the wet sock treatment on first day of an illness, ideally repeating it for three nights in a row. People with chronic conditions or a compromised immunity should consult with a doctor before starting the wet sock treatment. Dr. Wallace also points out, “The wet sock treatment is only one component of an integrated treatment plan that includes hydration, proper nutrition and immunity-boosting supplements.”
Wet sock treatment
1 pair of very thin socks, liner socks or polypropylene socks
1 pair of thick wool socks or thick polypropylene socks
2 sets of sweats or pajamas
1 bowl of ice water
- Soak the pair of thin socks in the bowl of ice water. Then wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip.
- Take a hot bath for 5-10 minutes. This is very important for the effectiveness of the treatment. In fact, it could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first.
- Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.
- Place ice-cold wet socks on feet. Then cover with thick wool socks. Put on the first set of pajamas. Go directly to bed. Place the second set of pajamas next to the bed. Avoid getting chilled.
- Wear the socks overnight. During the night, you may wake up with your whole body wet from sweat. If so, change into the dry pajamas, but leave on the socks. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.
This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment. To make an appointment at Bastyr Center for Natural Health please call 206.834.4100 or fill our our quick contact form. At Bastyr Center for Natural Health, practitioners can work with you to formulate a comprehensive immunity-boosting plan.