Wet Socks Treatment
by Dr. Judy Lin
A natural and drug free method of stimulating the immune system and zapping a cold or flu that has begun to gain its popularity is called the “wet socks treatment.” This is a home treatment has been commonly prescribed by physicians involves putting on ice-cold socks and … sleeping in them! I know, I know!!! Try it.
It may sound strange, but it works because it rallies the body’s defenses to battle against the affliction or condition – the body reacts to the cold socks by increasing circulation, which also stimulates the immune system. Stimulating the immune system, with the cold socks, systemically enhances the entire system, and enhances the battle against the nasty virus or condition, minimizing the suffering and length of the condition.
The ‘Wet Sock Treatment’ has been utilized successfully for hundreds of years. I recommend the Wet Sock Treatment to my patients of all ages often and find many experience positive outcomes from it.
Purpose of the Wet Sock Therapy:
- To draw blood and lymphatic flow away from the head towards the feet.
- To stimulate the immune system.
- To induce fever.
- To create a sense of calmness.
Effects of Wet Sock Treatment:
This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.
Contraindications for the Wet Sock Treatment:
These are general contraindications. Exceptions can by made only by your skilled integrative physician.
- Neuropathy: may burn or freeze feet.
- Asthmatics: may cause an asthmatic attack due to cold exposure and/or improved immune system.
- Temperature 100 F or higher: may cause higher fever
- Pregnancy: may cause fever
- Cachexia: those who are very weak or wasting should not perform this stimulating procedure
The warming phase is especially important for these patients. Please consult your physician:
- Arterial insufficiency
- Advanced intermittent claudication
Items Needed for the Wet Sock Treatment:
- Thin cotton or polypropylene socks that come up to the level of the mid-calf
- Bowl of ice water (or freezer)
- Thick warm socks – preferably wool – that come up to the level of mid-calf
- Bucket which reaches up to mid-calf
- Filled with Hot Water – as hot as can stand without burning yourself or your child. Be sure to test.
- Epsom salt – 2 to 6 cups (optional)
- Moor Mud – 250 to 500 ml (optional)
Symptoms which may improve from the Wet Sock Treatment:
- Cold Feet
- Sinus/Nasal Congestion
- Earache and Ear Infections
- Chronic Low Grade Fever (less than 100 F)
- Sore Throat (or any inflammation or infection of the throat)
- Upper Respiratory Infections
- Stress / Anxiety
- Weakened Immunity
Instructions for the Wet Sock Therapy:
- Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with cold/ice water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip. (May place the wet, wrung out thin socks in the freezer as well. Hang them on a freezer shelf so they are easy to remove).
- Warm your feet first. This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. Place and soak your lower legs into the bucket of hot water which you have prepared (be sure the water is quite hot (an indicator for the proper temperature is one may slowly place their lower legs into the bucket as they tolerate the heat).
- Soak your lower legs in the bucket for approximately 3 to 5 minutes or taking a warm bath beforehand can accomplish warming.
- Dry off feet with a dry towel.
- Remove socks from the ice water bucket. Wring out well. – OR have someone remove your socks from the freezer and bring them to you.
- Place cold wet socks on feet.
- Cover with thick wool socks.
- Go directly to bed, lay down and watch a movie, or read a book. Avoid getting chilled.
- Keep the socks on overnight. Place the second set of pajamas next to the bed.
- 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.
- Do nightly if your symptoms have not yet improved
- Stop the Wet Sock Treatment if your symptoms have abated or gone altogether
Note: 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.
What to look out for while performing the Wet Sock Treatment:
- Increased sweating during the night. Recommended to wear sweatshirt and sweatpants in bed to encourage sweating. If sweating at night, remove the wet clothes and put on dry ones.
- Elevated Fever – above 104 F. Do not do the Wet Sock Treatment if the oral temperature of the individual is 100 F or higher.
- If socks are still cold or damp in the morning after wearing them all night, perhaps:
- you need to warm up your feet better before putting on the cold socks
- the cold socks are too thick – use thin cotton or polypropylene socks
- the cold socks were too wet – wring them out very well
- your immune system and vitality is too weak at the moment so do not repeat
- Increased Chills at Night: bundle up with blankets if needed and wear warm sweats. If you get wet from sweating, take those clothes off and put on new ones.
This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment. Your physician may have different directions than what you find above – if so – please follow their recommendations.