Lana Camiel
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Wet Sock Therapy

In the past I’ve been sharing with you tips on food and herbs I use in my life on a pretty frequent basis.  Today is a bit different.

I want to begin by asking you about one old home remedy or therapy that you’ve been using that you found extremely effective.

At the end of last week, everyone, and I mean, everyone, my student in a drug information center, my husband, my colleague, his two teaching assistants, everyone came down with a cold.
I immediately began taking my arsenal of antiviral herbs, but now realize that I probably began too late. Last Saturday afternoon I got home and knew that I was losing the battle.  It was a bad cold and I spent the following 3 days in misery, in my bed.
Getting a cold or flu is no fun, and they have a predictable path – a sore throat, congestion, cough.

The worst part for me is I am unable to breathe while lying down in bed.  As a result, I have a hard time getting good night sleep.

You might know I’m a big believer in healing powers of restorative sleep.
So after the first restless night, I explored my options and came up with an effective weapon, a technique that worked well for me before.  Maybe you’ve heard about it, but most people haven’t.
I’ve learned about Wet Sock Therapy from two brilliant naturopathic physicians, mentors and friends, Dr. Mary Bove (from her book An Encyclopedia for Natural Healing for Children and Infants) and Dr. Julie Wiener.

Yes, you heard it right, it’s called Wet Sock Therapy, and it involves getting your socks wet.  

As I was preparing for writing this blog, I’ve decided to check out what else is published about this treatment online.
You can actually read a few blog posts from the Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen and Della Terra Wellness discussing the treatment, and each describes it a bit differently, but definitely with a greater degree of complexity than what I typically do.

Today, I’ll just share the steps I take.

What you need to know is that Wet Sock Treatment a hydrotherapy technique.  Hydrotherapy is considered a part of naturopathic physician training.  So it’s not a big surprise that I’ve discovered it through two naturopathic physicians.

Three things you’ll need, if you decide to give it a try, a pair of light cotton socks, a pair of heavy wool socks, and cold water.

You soak your light cotton socks in cold water, wring them, and put them on.
You could do a hot foot soak right before (supposedly it makes it more pleasant), but I don’t and it works well enough.
I recognize that putting wet cotton socks on your dry feel doesn’t sound very appealing.  In reality, you feel uncomfortable only for the first 30 seconds.
The important part is to immediately pull your heavy wool socks on top encasing the wet cotton socks inside. You should go to bed soon after.

You might be asking why does someone who is sick and congested need to go through all these steps.

For the past few times, this technique has been a predictable way of getting good night sleep despite having a cold.
By putting cold, wet socks on, you’re telling your body to increase blood circulation toward your feet.  Everything in your warm body is trying to dry those wet socks, and by next morning the socks are dry.  However, in the process, your nasal passages feel much less congested and the treatment allows you breathe comfortably and get much-needed rest.

I am very much a creature of comfort.

So the first time I heard this advice, I thought this was crazy.  After repeatedly experimenting and getting good results with this technique, I am a believer.
[tweet]Have you ever used hydrotherapy with good success during cold or flu?[/tweet]
Questions: Would you ever give “wet socks” a try during your next cold or flu? What other home or family remedies that might sound strange to others do you find consistently effective?

About the Author Lana Camiel

I'm a college professor, drug information pharmacist and herbalist. I teach young professionals and students how to be less stressed and more focused with the right herbs and food.

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  • Very Interesting Post !!! I guess it makes sense. If I have nasal congestion will give it a try. Thanks.

  • Debbie Samuels-Peretz says:

    I’ll try it! But my favorite remedy for a good night’s sleep with a bad cold is a hot toddy. My favorite recipe: Take shot of a good quality scotch whiskey. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, warm water and some honey.

  • janine says:

    i don’t have wool socks…what can I use as a substitute?

  • Angelo Jesus says:

    I hope my comment is not off topic. My grandmother had told me about this wet sock option, but I must confess that I no longer remembered.

    Is there a home remedy that I use frequently, although to another situation: chilblains …. I hope that the translation is correct (Google translator don’t fail me now!)

    Using fresh red chilli pods ground in a 96% alcohol ( everyone can do it at home). Then scrub the alcoholic solution and in the hands or feet … must repeat two days and if all goes well, you will be without chilblains all winter. But attention in the first days you may feel intense heat in the application site … watch out for the trips to the gym and hot baths

  • Drew Mirque says:

    Fascinating article….very interesting approach to relief. I almost wish I had a cold now to try it out. Thanks!

  • Hugo Robays says:

    The home remedy has a physiological basis. Simply, to warmup the feeds in order to evaporate water, you need a sufficient blood flow. This blood flow diminishes the drain to nasal congestion and that’s the reason why the body takes other priorities.

    The chili pepper from Angelo is another story. Local pepper blockades sensory neurotransmission. It’s is also used in regular medicine as a patch with a high concentration of capsaicin (QUTENZA) for neuropathic pain..
    It was known by Flemish cyclist (so called Flandriëns) and by skaters in the Netherland swho put it in their socks at winter time in order to diminish the cold feeling. But, foots remains frozen, but you don’t feel it any more…

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