Skip to main content

Warming Socks

In my first year of Naturopathic medical school we learned a hydrotherapy technique that was lovingly referred to as “cold, wet socks”.  Sounds appealing doesn’t it?  Despite the name, the warming socks (as I prefer to call it) treatment is cheap, simple and effective.  And not nearly as unpleasant as the name would lead you to believe.

Why do Warming Socks?

Warming socks is a technique used to treat the common cold, influenza, sore throats, sinus infections, upper respiratory tract infections, headaches, head and chest congestion.

The treatment works by stimulating the body’s natural defences.  Warming socks is a type of “heating compress” – a hydrotherapy technique that causes the body to increase blood circulation in order to heat up the cold, wet socks.

This increase in blood circulation helps to relieve congestion and stimulates greater action of the immune system so that it is better able to fight the virus or bacteria causing the illness.

This treatment can also have a sedating effect, and many people report sleeping much better during the treatment.

It is best to start the warming socks treatment on the first day of an illness and repeat it for three nights in a row.  It is most effective as part of an integrated treatment plan including rest, hydration, proper nutrition and immune-boosting botanicals or supplements.

How to do Warming Socks

Equipment

One pair of thin cotton socks

One pair of thick wool socks

Sink or bucket filled with very cold (or iced) water

Tub or bucket filled with very warm water

A warm bed

Procedure

Step 1: Get ready for bed

Step 2: Put cotton socks in a sink of very cold, or iced, water.  Soak for a minute to saturate the socks then wring them out so that they do not drip.

Step 3: Place your bare feet into a tub or bucket of very warm water.
Soak your feet as long as you want, but make sure the water stays warm and so do your feet.

Step 4: Dry your feet with a towel and put the wet cotton socks on your feet.

Step 5: Immediately pull the dry wool socks over the wet socks.  You want the wool socks to completely cover the cotton socks.

Step 6: Go to bed right away.  Make sure your feet stay warm.

In the morning your feet will be warm and dry.  Symptoms of your cold and head or chest congestion will be diminished or gone.

Repeat the warming socks treatment for three nights in a row.  It can be used on adults and children but people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems should consult with a Naturopathic Doctor before starting the warming socks treatment.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

Epsom Salts – Baths and Beyond

 

Epsom salt bath

There is nothing better in winter than a nice hot bath.  And a bath that was prescribed by your Naturopathic Doctor is even better.  Just tell your partner, roommate or kids that you *need* to spend 20 minutes enjoying a quiet soothing bath – your doctor told you to do it.

Why take an Epsom Salts bath?

An Epsom salts bath releases toxins and metabolic waste by enhancing perspiration.  Epsom salts also contain magnesium sulfate, which when absorbed by the body promotes muscle relaxation and relieves stiff, aching and cramped muscles.

Epsom salt baths can also be used to treat specific conditions.  Dry skin can benefit from Epsom salt baths as can genital herpes outbreaks.

The Epsom Salts bath

Step 1: Add two cups (approximately 600g) of Epsom salts to a hot bath (38 to 44 degrees Celsius or 100.4F to 111.2F).  Soak in the hot bath for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 2: While in the bath wrap a cool wet towel around your neck (a hand towel dipped in cold water works well) and drink cool filtered water to replace fluids that are lost.

Step 3: When finished the bath, cool your body down with a cool shower or a cool sponge bath – starting from the feet and moving upwards.

Step 4: Rest for 15 to 30 minutes after the bath for maximal relaxation and therapeutic impact.

Additional notes:

  • Do not use soaps while in the Epsom salt bath.
  • Taking an Epsom salt bath after a massage can enhance and lengthen the effect of a massage.
  • Take an Epsom salt bath two to three times per week for best results.

Other Uses for Epsom Salts

Epsom salts can be used to treat acne and skin blemishes.   Mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts in ½ cup of warm water.  Wash face with the mixture twice daily.  Use just once daily if you have very sensitive or dry skin.  Discontinue use if skin irritation occurs.  You could also use a poultice and apply just to blemishes (see below for instructions on how to make a poultice).

A Epsom salts poultice can also be used to draw out boils, carbuncles or abscesses.  The salts are a natural antiseptic and antimicrobial and help to absorb the moisture from the area, drying out the boil.  Use a poultice and apply to the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse with cool water.

HOW TO MAKE AN EPSOM SALTS POULTICE

Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts in a glass bowl

Add just enough warm water to make a thick paste

Apply to blemishes, boils, carbuncles, abscesses or herpes outbreaks once to twice daily

Leave on skin for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse off with cool water

Caution!

Epsom salt baths are relaxing to your body and mind but are stimulating to your circulatory system.  It is not recommended for people with high blood pressure or severe varicose veins to use Epsom salt baths.

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only.  It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider.  Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.

References

Boyle, Wade and Saine, Andre.  Lectures in Naturopathic Hydrotherapy.  1988.

Rosemary Waring Absorption of magnesium sulphate through the skin (republished by the Epsom Salt Council), 2004