The Wet Sock Treatment: A Natural Home Remedy for Congestion

A couple years ago, I learned about the Wet Sock Treatment for head/sinus/any kind of congestion. Like many natural home remedies, the wet sock treatment sounds kind of weird and simplistic and even far-fetched. And like many others reading this post, I was also a skeptic when I first heard about it. But when my husband came down with a head cold shortly after, I whipped out this snippet of knowledge from somewhere in the recesses of my brain and tried the wet sock treatment on him…and it worked. Crazy.

Except that it’s not so crazy. Let me explain. First of all, this is how you give a wet sock treatment (courtesy of Dr. Marcel Hernandez, an ND specializing in pediatrics). I will summarize briefly, in case you are feeling too lazy to click on the link:

  • Prepare a pair of thin cotton socks by soaking them in cold water.
  • Pull out a pair of thick wool or cotton socks and have them waiting.
  • Prepare a foot bath of hot water (100 to 110 degrees).
  • Dress the person receiving the treatment (we’ll call them the “client”) warmly and immerse their feet in the hot water (the water should be 3 to 8 inches above the client’s ankle bones).
  • Keep their feet in the water for about 10 minutes. They should be rosy pink when you take them out of the water.
  • Take the feet out of the hot water and dry them off.
  • Wring out the thin cotton socks you’ve had soaking in cold water, and put them on the client’s feet. Yes, I really did just say that. Yes, you might encounter some form of resistance. In my husband’s case, it was a loud whelp accompanied by an involuntary jerk of his feet that almost landed me a kick in the head.
  • Now, immediately put the thick wool socks you’ve had waiting around on the client’s feet, on top of the thin cotton socks that were soaked in cold water.
  • Allow the client to relax, take a nap, or read. Basically, they shouldn’t be moving about too much.
  • After 2-3 hours, the client’s body feet will naturally dry the socks, and you can remove them if it’s too uncomfortable.

Physicians at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health commonly prescribe this treatment (in fact, the ND who first told me about this protocol is himself a Bastyr-trained physician) to get over colds and flu and to boost the body’s own defenses. How does it work? Well, the icy cold increases the blood circulation, which in turn, stimulates the body’s immune system and “revs it up” to battle infections, congestion, and other conditions. The Bastyr physicians recommend that you do this treatment starting on the first day of an illness and repeat it for three nights in a row.

Of course, there are some circumstances under which you shouldn’t use this treatment, like if you have an already-compromised immune system or other pre-existing illnesses like diabetes or arteriosclerosis of the lower extremities. And, it’s just one remedy, to be used in conjunction with other modalities, like immune-boosting supplements, nutrition, and hydration. But it sure is a darn good remedy, especially because a) it’s so easy to perform; b) the items you need are easily found in your home; and c) it’s completely FREE. And while it does sound uncomfortable, many people who receive the treatment say that they actually sleep much better with the wet socks on! (Can you imagine?)



About Mare

is a Master Herbalist, Certified Aromatherapist, and enthusiastic natural mommy to a beautiful tot of 2, the Little Apple. She shares her parenting adventures (sometimes mis-adventures) via this blog.
This entry was posted in Colds/Flu, Ear Infection, Holistic Home Remedies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Wet Sock Treatment: A Natural Home Remedy for Congestion

  1. Erin Cyr says:

    I had forgotten about this treatment. Sometimes I feel like there’s so many answers out there in the Natural medicine world that it’s overwhelming (which is wonderful in a way).
    Thanks Mare!

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