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Get Relief from Congestion & Stuffiness with Hydrotherapy

Written by Michael Reece ND

It seems there are many suffering from head colds and allergy symptoms this time of year. Fortunately, most symptoms are mild and resolve on their own after several days. But what can one do during the course of the cold to reduce the severity of the congestion and stuffiness that makes people feel miserable? Besides the usual admonitions of getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids (preferably clear fluids with no sugar added!), I’d like to share an old naturopathic technique that can often help reduce the congestion. Bear with me here, and let me explain, as the technique involves using cold wet socks!

Hydrotherapy (or water therapy) has been a mainstay of naturopathic medicine since its origins over a century ago. Many of these techniques were developed in Germany, and involved placing either hot or cold water over certain areas of the body in order to affect circulation to the area. Hydrotherapy clinics were common, and a few of my naturopathic colleagues out west use hydrotherapy as a mainstay in the treatment of many conditions.

The technique for working with head congestion involves a pair of cotton socks and a pair of wool socks. Before going to bed, thoroughly soak the cotton socks in ice cold water. Wring them out and put them on your feet. Follow this by putting on the pair of wool socks over top of the cold wet cotton socks. Make sure the rest of you is wrapped up so that you are nice and warm, covered up in bed. As you sleep, your body will increase circulation to your feet, causing your feet to warm up. The wool socks help keep your feet warm during this process. Many people notice less sinus congestion….it’s almost as if the body is pulling the congestion away from the head while warming up your feet. It is a safe, non-toxic method that can often have dramatic results, so give it a try!

If you have diabetes or other condition that causes neuropathy in your extremities, I would suggest talking with a naturopathic consultant or your doctor before attempting this. Otherwise, you may find this technique effective is lessening the misery of the common cold!

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