By Dr Patti Kim
During winter months, temperatures tend to wildly fluctuate. Whether you’re dealing with warm Los Angeles days and chilly nights or hot heaters indoors and cold temps outside, it’s easy for our immune system to become weakened. In addition to nourishing ourselves through nutrient dense warming foods, plenty of sleep and taking time out to breathe (especially with holiday madness and stress), one of the most amazing and simple tools anyone can use to either prevent or treat colds is home hydrotherapy. It’s a little weird but cheap and effective! During my 1st year of Naturopathic medical school before I had learned about herbs, homeopathy and nutraceuticals to strengthen the immune system, I caught a horrible cold/flu during travels in India. All I had with me were my wool socks and my knowledge of hydrotherapy. Without even taking a single herb, the following warming socks hydrotherapy lowered my fever and restored my vitality. This is something anyone can do and moms can even use it for babies and toddlers with high fevers before jumping to Tylenol.
This therapy can be used preventatively to simply strengthen the immune system or to improve circulation, and it is even effective for treating insomnia. It can be used at the first indication of aches and fever or at the first signs of congestion in the ears, eyes, sinus, throat and lungs.
The warming socks treatment is best if repeated for as many nights as necessary to improve the condition. For chronic conditions, the treatment can be repeated long term.
If your feet are cool or cold, it is important to warm them first. This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if done with cold feet. Warming can be accomplished by soaking feet in warm water for 5-10 minutes or taking a hot bath or shower. Or if you’re pressed for time, just run your feet under warm water to warm them up. Just make sure your feet are not cold.
Next, take a pair of cotton socks and get them wet with cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly.
Place the cool wet socks on your feet. Put on thick dry 100% wool socks. Go to bed. Avoid getting chilled.
Your body will increase the circulation of qi, energy and blood in order to warm and dry your feet and socks. This in turn, will help break up any stagnation and congestion. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.
I know what you’re thinking, the idea of putting on wet socks seems counterintuitive and downright weird. But it works!
Alternatively, you may do this same hydrotherapy treatment using a cotton t-shirt and a wool sweater, particularly if there is a fever. Wet the cotton t-shirt in cold water and wring out thoroughly. Put the t-shirt on and put a dry wool sweater on over the wet t-shirt then get into a warm bed.
Another option or alternative is to do alternating hot and cold in the shower. Do 3 min of hot and 30 sec of cold THREE times, ending in a blast of cold. The cold water does not have to be icy cold, just cold enough to create a bit of contrast and as cold as you can tolerate. The stronger the contrast, the stronger and more effective the treatment.
All these hydrotherapy treatments increase circulation and the pumping action of the blood. The more that blood flows through the lympathic system, the more blood gets filtrated. Also, the energy it takes for the body to dry the wet socks or sweater as well as the contrasting hot/cold in the shower creates a pumping action for the blood between the surface of the body and the internal organs which helps to stimulate the immune system and also to filter more blood through the internal organs.