Warming Socks for Colds

It's that time of year again - cold season! If you haven't already, you may feel the onset of runny nose, sore throat and irritating cough during this time of year. Although I'm sure that you've heard the old adage, "a cold goes away in 2 weeks without treatment, or 14 days with treatment," that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to do what you can to make yourself feel better when you feel the onset of the sniffles. 

I wanted to share with you a very simple (and free!) intervention that is an old naturopathic standby for colds: warming socks. This treatment is a type of hydrotherapy that improves the circulation of blood and lymph. In particular, it helps to decrease congestion in the head, throat and upper respiratory passages. 


1 pair of thin cotton socks

1 pair of thick wool socks (that come up higher than the cotton socks - of course, cozy and colorful ones are highly preferred)


Warm bath or warm foot bath



  1. Take a pair of thin cotton socks and soak them in cold water, then wring them out thoroughly. You want to make sure that they are not dripping! If you're feeling up to it, you may consider placing them in the fridge for 10-20 minutes (for the duration of step 2) to enhance the cooling effect.
  2. While the socks are cooling, treat yourself to a relaxing warm bath or a warm foot bath for 10-15 minutes.  This is a super important step because the treatment will not be as effective and could actually be harmful if your feet are not warmed first. So don't skip it! Also, how often do you treat yourself to a bath or foot bath anyway??!
  3. Dry off your feet and body with a dry towel. If needed, remove the cotton socks from the fridge.
  4. Get into your pajamas. Put the cold, damp cotton socks on your feet and cover them with the 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.

Now I know the sound of putting cold socks on your feet when you're already feeling crummy isn't the most appealing idea in the world, but trust me, you should try it! I didn't try it until my third year of naturopathic medical school, but oh my goodness, I really wished I had tried it sooner. Not only did I wake up feeling much less congested, but I had a GREAT sleep! Now, not only do I do warming socks when I have a cold, but also when I have occasional trouble sleeping, due to the sedating and relaxing effect.

A word of caution: ask your physician before trying this treatment if you have Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, diabetes, arterial insufficiency or advanced intermittent claudication.

Oh, one last thing, if you are doing the warming sock therapy for a cold, try to do it for at least 3 night in a row for maximum benefit.

If you try it, I'd love to hear how it goes! Leave a comment here to tell us how it was for you!

- Dr. Khaira