Warming Socks Hydrotherapy
My beloved Naturopath and full on guru, Dr. Patti Kim, shares the world's easiest and effective method for curbing illness during this cold and flu season with the likes of a pair of cotton socks, wool socks, and a little bit of love.
P | Most cultures have used some form of hydrotherapy as a method of healing for thousands of years. Hydrotherapy in its most basic form, is the use of water at various temperatures to create a therapeutic effect on the body. The modern evolution of Naturopathic Hydrotherapy began with the techniques of Fr. Sebastian Kneipp in Germany and Vincent Priessnitz in Austria/Czech Republic. Kneipp used hydrotherapy to heal himself of Tuberculosis and Priessnitz was able to heal himself of severely broken ribs. During deadly epidemics of syphilis and smallpox in Europe, Priessnitz treated about 45,000 patients and only lost 0.1% to the illnesses. Modern Constitutional Hydrotherapy was later pioneered by Naturopathic Doctor O.G. Carroll out of these traditional methods. Constitutional hydrotherapy utilizes modern physiotherapy devices along with specific timing of hot and cold towels and requires the presence of a Physician or Practitioner.
However, very similar healing effects can be achieved right in the comfort of your own home through Warming Socks Hydrotherapy. Hot water or hot towels open up blood vessels and increase blood flow. Cold water or cold towels constrict blood vessels and push blood deeper into the internal organs and center of the body. (This is why hands and feet can get cold during cold weather. The body will do everything to shunt energy to the core and keep the internal organs thriving.) Hydrotherapy has a similar effect on the body as jumping in and out of hot and cold natural springs or soaking in a hot spring then jumping in the snow. Hot springs have been used as a natural therapy in Scandinavia and Asia for centuries.
The Warming Socks Hydrotherapy treatment stimulates the body's own healing force or "vital force." The home treatment creates a pumping action to warm and dry the socks. Like the purpose of a fever, it allows for increased blood flow and lymphatic drainage leading to greater elimination of toxins.
This treatment can be used at the first indication of a cold or flu, congestion, or headache. It can also be helpful for insomnia, for improving circulation and for overall strengthening of the immune system. It is best if repeated for as many consecutive nights as necessary. [On a personal note, during a trip to India during my 1st year of medical school, I came down with the worst flu ever. I had a high fever, congestion, runny nose, body aches...I barely knew anything about herbs and treatment at the time and the only thing I brought with me was my wool socks and it was 4 consecutive nights of this hydrotherapy treatment that saved me and allowed me to enjoy my once in a lifetime trip to India.]
PROCEDURE | 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 make symptoms worse if done with cold feet. Warming can be accomplished by taking a hot bath or shower, soaking feet for 5-10 min or even just running feet under warm water in a pinch.
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 moist socks on your feet. Cover with thick dry wool socks. The socks must be 100% wool. Go straight 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. Many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment.
Alternatively, for a more intense effect or for very high fevers, you may do this same hydrotherapy treatment using a cotton t-shirt and a wool sweater. 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. Go to bed.
The warming socks and warming sweater hydrotherapy treatments also work great on kids during a flu or fever, allowing the fever to do its job more effectively instead of just suppressing it with NSAIDs or analgesics.