A Surprising Cold Remedy for the Post Holiday Months

feet under blanket with mug
feet under blanket with mug

The post-holiday winter months are prime cold season. The wet sock treatment is one of the most classic naturopathic remedies to supercharge the immune response at the start of an upper respiratory infection. This treatment uses hydrotherapy to recruit both the cardiovascular and lymph systems to decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. While the idea of cold applied to the feet may not seem pleasant while you are sick, this treatment actually has a sedating and relaxing effect and many report improved sleep.   Use treatment with caution and under physician supervision if you have diabetes, Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, arterial insufficiency or advanced intermittent claudication.


  • 1 pair white cotton socks
  • 1 pair thick wool socks
  • Towel
  • Warm bath or warm foot bath


  1. Take a pair of thin cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water.  After wetting the socks, wring them out thoroughly so they do not drip. You may consider placing them in the freezer for 10-20 minutes (during the duration of step 2) to enhance the cooling effect.
  2. While the socks are cooling, warm your feet in a warm bath for 5-10 minutes.  This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. 
  3. Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.
  4. If needed, remove the cotton socks from the freezer, and bend or thaw them to the point where they can be worn. Place socks on the feet and cover the cold socks with a second pair of thick, dry wool socks.  Go directly to bed.  Avoid getting chilled.
  5. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry by the morning.



Dr. Brenna Regan is a first year ND Resident at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health.