Stimulate the Immune System + Improve Circulation

By Dr. Nicole Pierce, The Vervain Collective

Warming Sock Treatment

A natural method of stimulating the immune system by improving circulation is called the “wet sock” or “warming sock” treatment. This traditional hydrotherapy treatment, which is commonly prescribed by Naturopathic Physicians, involves putting on ice-cold socks and . . . are you ready for this? Sleeping in them! It may sound strange, but this easily accessible practice rallies the body’s defenses by utilizing the healing power of nature and doesn’t cost a dime. The treatment is a type of "heating compress,” meaning that it's up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks. The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which in turn stimulates the immune system (where the red blood cells go, so go the white blood cells), which is then ready for battle against disruptive pathogens.

This non-invasive 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. Warming socks are also effective for pain relief and increase the healing response during acute infections. It’s best to start the warming sock treatment on the first day of an illness, ideally repeating it for three or more nights in a row. The warming sock treatment is used in conjunction with other modalities to treat acute inflammation and infection and is only one component of an integrated treatment plan that includes hydration, proper nutrition, and immunity-boosting supplements.

Sore throat or any inflammation or infection of the throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

Use with caution in diabetes, Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, arterial insufficiency or advanced intermittent claudication. People with any chronic condition or compromised immunity should consult with a doctor before starting the warming sock treatment.

1 pair cotton socks
1 pair wool socks
Hot bath or foot bath

1. Take a pair of thin cotton socks and soak them completely with ice cold water. Wring the wet socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. Alternatively, you can put the wet socks in the freezer for 10-20 minutes (during the duration of step 2).
2. While the socks are cooling, warm your feet in a hot bath for 5-10 minutes. This is a very important step as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first.
3. Dry off feet with a dry towel.
4. Remove the cotton socks from the freezer or bowl of ice water, and bend or thaw them to the point where they can be worn. Put socks on and immediately cover the cold socks with a second pair of thick, dry wool socks. Wrap up in blankets snuggle into to bed.
5. Keep the socks on overnight or until socks are dry (children and people with already strong constitutions can usually dry the socks in a few hours).


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