Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Context of Healthy Eating - In memory of Kirsten Swanz

On March 30th, 2010, my sister Kirsten passed surround by loved ones. She was 28 years old. Kirsten’s memory is vivid with me now having just crossed the 1 year anniversary of her passing and her liberation from the prison that was her physical existence during the last 3 years of her life. With the emotions so raw, I am reminded how her mental suffering stretched back so much further.

My sister died from complications from diabetes and an eating disorder. Her body and her soul were literally starving for nourishment. Looking at my sister, the deprivation was obvious. She was young, her mind was sharp, but her body had succumbed to the ravages of aging well before her time. Her kidneys had stopped functioning and dialysis was an every other day occurrence. She battled high blood pressure and Kirsten’s vision was qualified as legally blind. She had two toe amputations and her bones would fracture under the slightest stress. Anyone looking at my sister knew her health was degenerating. My sister was in the minority. For the majority of our population we don’t see the decline until the health situation becomes dire. As we look around today the disordered eating behaviors aren’t so obvious. Rest assured it is there.

I share my sister’s story to honor her memory and hopefully inspire others to avoid a similar journey. The issues that burden our culture regarding food, nutrition, and health are immense. There is no magic pill that will suddenly resolve this dilemma. As a society, we are over-fed, over-supplemented, over-medicated, and well under-nourished. The nutritional starvation we experience isn’t simply a description of the void found in the nutrient content of industrially grown and processed food. In fact I contend that it is equally the result of the emotional, or lack thereof, connection we have with our food and the people we eat meals with. The beauty of this problem is that it doesn’t require money to resolve. It simply necessitates a shift in the way we think about our food.

Healthy eating isn’t all about organic food. The term organic has become a buzz word exploited by industry to advance the sales of more of the same. Just because it is “organic” is no guarantee that it will support healing and sustenance. And in addition to the words describing a food, the context in which we consume it is crucially important. An all organic meal eaten while driving 60 miles an hour down the highway rushing from one appointment to the next while stressing out about how overwhelmed we are can’t possibly nourish our body the way food is suppose to. Conversely, a non-organic, non-local meal prepared with mindfulness and intent, consumed with those dearest to our hearts, and reflected on as a blessing to our body and soul will give us exactly the nourishment we need.

I am not saying the quality of our food doesn't matter… it absolutely does. The diseases of the past, those things that killed the most people even just 75 years ago were infectious diseases. The times have changed and people are still dying. Today though, entire cultures are dying from lifestyle diseases – cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. So the food does matter and we must realize the context from which we consume our food is a simple area that deserves serious attention.

Food has the potential to be the most powerful medicine we have. Greater than any drug now and any we may ever find. The context, the manner and means with which we consume our meals defines our relationship to the food. Food itself isn’t good or bad, organic or not. The benefit or detriment to our health from food is based primarily on the quantity, frequency, and context from which we consume it, our relationship with it. We must stop ascribing human qualities like good or bad to the food itself. It is just food.

Relationships on the other hand can be good or bad and I am sure most of us have experienced examples of both. Relationships of all sorts provide the opportunity for personal growth and betterment. Relationships are built on the foundation of the behaviors and the habits we as individuals bring to them. These behaviors and habits can be observed, understood, and replicated by those we hold most dear. Health is contagious. Build a solid foundation for yourself and your family by slowing down and eating together. Focus and cultivate a healthy, mindful relationship with food and eating. This will carry over to every meal we consume; with every person we break bread. This is the space from where true nourishment and genuine health will come. It will help propel us all into our most healthy future. It is a simple step with profound effects that we can all start embracing today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Time Allergies in Kentucky

What are the first thoughts that come to mind when imaging the beckoning of springtime in the Ohio River valley? I am sure many immediately want to talk college basketball and the madness that is March and the NCAA tournament. Others will drift to the Kentucky Derby and all the related festivities leading up to the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. Some may be eager to simply get outside the house and explore the beautiful scenery that is Kentuckiana (Indiucky from my side of the bridge). The burgeoning spring is many things to different people, regardless of your passions it can inspire and motivate us all to embrace this wonderful time of year.

Growing up in this region, the arrival of springtime has also always suggested the arrival of seasonal allergies that are unmatched in other areas of the country. Hay fever (not necessarily related to hay and seldom associated with a fever) can be incapacitating and the number of individuals affected in the spring is staggering. Allergic rhinitis – inflammation of the nose and/or sinuses – is accompanied by sneezing, nasal mucus discharge, nasal congestion, nasal itching, and watery, itchy eyes, and affects countless individuals. The increased mucus creates an environment that is an ideal place for bacteria to grow and lead to sinus infections and sinus pressure. This process is a hypersensitive reaction to the increased pollen count in our environment as the new grasses, trees, and weeds begin to grow.

It may seem as if we are helpless against this increased pollen count since when we walk outside we are exposed. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help minimize our overall inflammatory burden which will subsequently decrease the severity of our inflammatory response to the pollens. The at home solutions we will talk about today include monitoring the foods we eat, increasing omega 3 consumption, as well as washing out our sinuses.

The first way to address allergies of all types is to examine what we consume. What we put into our body on a daily basis has a lasting effect on how we feel each and every day. Seasonal allergies are no exception to the rule. In order to address allergies with diet modification, it is vital to explore the individual’s sensitivity to particular foods. Often we consume foods that we are sensitive to without noticing any direct reaction from the offending food. The food sensitivities we are concerned with will not cause our nose to drip or our eyes to itch. It is not the type of allergic food reaction that requires an EpiPen and a quick trip to the emergency room. Instead, it is a low-level sensitivity that cumulatively contributes to our overall inflammatory burden and hence produces a hypersensitive response when we are exposed to something non-threatening like plant pollens. In my experience, food sensitivity is a completely unique response. I have seen it repeatedly in my office that even within families there is a totally independent reaction to particular foods. Eliminating a particular food for one person will not necessarily work for another.

It should be noted that a diet that is high in omega 6 fatty acids and deficient in omega 3 fatty acids increases systemic inflammation. Both essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) must be acquired through our diet. The standard American diet (SAD) is extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids and extremely low in the omega 3 fatty acids. Both essential fatty acids are crucial for healthy inflammatory pathways in the body. When the omega 6 pathway is activated, the body experiences a more exaggerated inflammatory response. The omega 3 pathway is activated it produces a less inflammatory response. When the body has a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, the resulting inflammatory response is likely to be appropriate to the offending agent. When the body has an excess of omega 6 fatty acids, it is more often the case that there will be an extreme inflammatory response to an offending agent, regardless of the severity of the particular antigen. This is a simplified description of the phenomenon happening at the cellular level in the majority of Americans, children included, on a daily basis. It is important to strive to bring our body back into balance and reestablish a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. I generally recommend that patients supplement with 500 to 1000 mg of EPA from a high-quality pharmaceutical grade fish oil. My favorite product is MorEPA by Minami. You can also increase your omega 3 levels by eating grass fed meats and avoiding any grain fed products.

In addition to avoiding food sensitivities and increasing omega 3 consumption, it is also important to consume as many fresh, local vegetables and fruits as possible. This local produce is grown in the same environment where we live. It thrives with exposure to the same air and water pollutants that we must deal with in the spring. The natural defenses and bountiful phyto-nutrients offer us the same protection that they provide for the growing plants. These nutrients and bio-flavenoids have natural anti-inflammatory properties and the volume of benefits from a diet high in variety and colorful vegetable and fruit consumption is too vast to include in this article.

One other simple method for reducing allergic symptoms is to utilize a neti pot saline wash throughout the spring to wash the pollens directly from the nasal passage. A neti pot is a device used for flushing out excess mucus, pollen, bacteria, and foreign agents from the nose and sinuses. This technique is becoming more and more popular, even within the conventional medical system. Neti pots are available for purchase at many drug and retail stores. A neti pot is a safe, simple, and effective tool for supporting healthy sinuses.

The techniques described above are painless and inexpensive, and the benefits can be enormous. By incorporating these suggestions into your healthy daily routine you will be more able to enjoy time planting a garden, watching the horses run, or doing any other activities you enjoy in the springtime.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poultices - part 2

A poultice is a topical application to the body to create a specific healing response. It is a simple technique that can be incredibly effective when the proper substances are applied in the appropriate manner. It is an economical approach that often utilizes foods/medicines that are already in the kitchen. Poultices involve few other materials and can be used in a pinch alone or in conjunction with conventional or alternative treatments.

The procedure for preparing a poultice is rather simple and relatively the same regardless of the substance applied:

Grate, chop, dice, muddle, etc. the substance and wrap it in a cheese cloth. If the substance is a grain or some other dry material, it may need to be combined with water to create a paste. Position the cheese cloth directly over the area for treatment and cover with a piece of plastic wrap and then a towel or other article of clothing to hold the application in place. The duration of treatment is typically 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the application immediately if there is any stinging, burning, etc. Depending on the applied substance, there may be varying degrees of redness during and following a treatment.

Following is a list of the frequently recommended poultices.

Honey Poultice – Applied directly to the skin, honey is good for burns and cuts, antiseptic, and it is anti-inflammatory. Honey helps prevent bacteria from growing while sealing off the damaged tissue from the air, reduces pain, and rehydrates the tissue.

Mustard Poultice – Use powdered mustard and mix with water to make a paste. Use a wooden spoon to mix and spread the paste. Do Not Apply Directly to the Skin. Be sure to wrap the paste in a cheese cloth. Do not leave on the skin longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Do not use a mustard poultice on sensitive or broken skin. A mustard poultice is good for arthritic joints and any condition that requires increased circulation. It can be applied to the chest to help relieve congestion, aid asthma, relieve coughs, and assist in getting rid of colds and flu. It can also be used alternating on the chest and back for chest/lung conditions. If left on too long a mustard poultice can cause blistering on the skin. Parents should absolutely not leave a mustard poultice on an unattended child.

Onion Poultice – Sautee chopped onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Place the onion in a cheese cloth. Onion is high in sulfur and great for drawing out impurities and decreasing inflammation. Onion poultices are excellent for ear infections, boils, and sores that have difficulty hearing.

Potato Poultice – Grate raw potato and mix with boiling water. Place the soft, translucent potato in a cheese cloth. Potato poultices are soothing and cooling, they are ideal for inflammation such as experienced in arthritis.

Poultices are simple, cost effective, procedures for supporting the body’s healing response. When utilized with other immune supports and healing techniques, poultices can speed up recovery time, decrease discomfort and pain, and encourage rest while healing. Consider using a poultice the next time you need a little extra healing boost.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poultices Part 1 - Home Healing from the Kitchen

A poultice is a topical application to the body to create a specific healing response. It is a simple technique that can be incredibly effective when the proper substances are applied in the appropriate manner. It is an economical approach that often utilizes foods/medicines that are already in the kitchen. Poultices involve few other materials and can be used in a pinch alone or in conjunction with conventional or alternative treatments.

The procedure for preparing a poultice is rather simple and relatively the same regardless of the substance applied:

Grate, chop, dice, muddle, etc. the substance and wrap it in a cheese cloth. If the substance is a grain or some other dry material, it may need to be combined with water to create a paste. Position the cheese cloth directly over the area for treatment and cover with a piece of plastic wrap and then a towel or other article of clothing to hold the application in place. The duration of treatment is typically 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the application immediately if there is any stinging, burning, etc. Depending on the applied substance, there may be varying degrees of redness during and following a treatment.

Following is a list of the frequently recommended poultices.

Bran Poultice – Make a paste with hot water and bran, apply as hot as can be tolerated. Used for inflammation, strains, sprains, and bruises.

Cabbage Poultice – Use raw or cooked cabbage. A cabbage poultice has a warming, detoxifying, and stimulating effect. Apply over varicose veins, shingles, eczema, gout, and rheumatism. A cabbage poultice can also be applied to the lower abdomen to promote pelvic circulation and dissolve small fibroids and cysts in pelvic cavity. It also can be used over the liver to support detoxification.

Carrot Poultice – Grate the carrot and place in a cheese cloth. Carrot poultices are ideal for sore throats and swollen glands. Place the poultice directly over the throat and wrap with a scarf (orange preferably).

Dandelion Poultice – Use dandelion root, leaves and flowers. A dandelion poultice is fantastic for skin disorders such as acne, eczema, itchy and dry skin, psoriasis, and rashes.

Poultices are simple, cost effective, procedures for supporting the body’s healing response. When utilized with other immune supports and healing techniques, poultices can speed up recovery time, decrease discomfort and pain, and encourage rest while healing. Consider using a poultice the next time you need a little extra healing boost.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Healthy Habits

Habits are incredibly powerful. Without even recognizing it, there is an unconscious influence exerted on our daily activities and general actions. Habits are the behaviors that have become latent to our conscious thought process. We are simply going through the motions. I no longer have to remind myself to buckle my seatbelt when I get in a car. My mind and body have been habitually programmed to repeat the same action over and over again every time I sit in an automobile. This is a beneficial habit to have, one that has the potential to save my life in an auto accident. We develop habits because there are things that are worth repeating without expending the energy and concentration that new tasks require. It is a manner of creating efficiency and allowing our mind and body to address new tasks without distraction. Habits are worth having because they simplify the process of living our daily life. But inadvertently they may also be decreasing the quality and longevity of that life if we are repeatedly and mindlessly performing behaviors that collectively will be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. Fortunately we can break bad habits and initiate new behaviors that over time will become habits themselves, supporting us on our journey to health. So where do we start?

We start with breakfast! Our mornings are full of habits. We hit the alarm button and kick it into autopilot to get ourselves and the family out the door. We tend to trade our long-term wellbeing for convenience with our morning routine. Making changes here are difficult, especially in the beginning. But with consistency, our changes transform into new habits and a new morning ritual that benefits ourselves and our family. After constant application it is no longer a burden to wake 30 minutes earlier, it is simply what we do on autopilot every day. An extra 30 minutes in the morning is likely all you need to tackle the biggest challenge for the majority of the population in the morning… actually eating breakfast. Preferably this is done within the first hour of climbing out of bed while still at home. Even if you don’t typically feel hungry when you wake up, it is important to consume a protein focused meal to jumpstart the body’s metabolism for the rest of your day. Eggs are ideal. If you are worried about the time to prepare them, simply hard boil a dozen on the weekend. Protein provides a more lasting energy throughout the morning and has been shown to support weight loss when compared with a similarly portioned and caloric breakfast comprised of grains and cereals. Individuals that eat breakfast have been shown to regularly consume fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. This may seem too simplistic to actually provide significant changes, but that is the beauty of healthy habits; over time the synergy of the routine creates an improvement that exceeds the results of the actions from any one day.

Sandwiching the “rest of our day” in between a healthy morning and a healthy evening is an effective way to improve our overall wellbeing and build momentum towards making other improvements and habits that normally require more effort simply because the middle parts of our day tend to have less routine and consistency. Things just always come up at work or at home that will tend to interfere with our best intentions. But if we can start the change with a focus on the morning and on the evening, the middle portions inevitably fall more in line with the standards we are creating for ourselves around the “rest of the day”.

A healthy habit routine at night should primarily focus on preparing for sleep. Begin by turning off the TV or computer at least an hour and a half before your desired bed time. Television, the news, the internet, etc. are not relaxing and do not help us decompress before bed. This is an ideal time to connect with family and friends through conversation, board games, or maybe a shared yoga practice. It is also an excellent time to read a chapter from whatever book you are interested in, or maybe write down your objectives to accomplish for the next day. Use this time to be productive and present with yourself or your family. Parents will be amazed at the how quickly this practice of unplugging at night improves the children’s bedtime routine. Even though the children may fight this new routine more at first, the changes are ultimately harder on the parents. Breaking habits is more difficult the longer we have been practicing them. Don’t sell yourself short and plug back in after the kids have gone to bed. Commit to this changed behavior for at least a month and see how much better you feel. If you are still suffering from sleep issues, it would be worth the effort to look into natural sleep supports that can be used short term to help reset the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Prescription sleep aids do not help the body recalibrate and instead create a cycle of dependency and continued poor sleep. I know the stories are amusing, “so and so was raking leaves in their underwear at 3:30 in the morning”. The reason this happens is the most commonly used medications are hypnotics, not sedatives. They create an unconscious individual with an active mind. This is a bad combination in general and a real detriment when we should be resting at night.

It is still early in 2011 and we have this entire year ahead of us to begin creating healthy habits that will ultimately improve the health of ourselves and our families. What are you waiting for? Start today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Weight Loss and Dieting for 2011

Welcome to 2011 and another opportunity to embrace dieting and weight loss in the New Year. Losing weight is probably the number one New Year’s resolution. More than any other vow, losing weight is embraced with passion and vigor; but often just as quickly the excitement fades and the frustration of dieting ups and downs becomes a reality once again. Soon the old eating habits have returned and things are right back where they first started.

Will 2011 be a different experience? Is this the year when you finally lose some extra weight and keep it off? More importantly, is this the year when you make those eating and lifestyle changes permanent and take yourself on the road to a more healthy you? I believe it can be that year and I will share those things that in my experience most often are the obstacles to lasting weight loss as well as those areas that are often neglected by the common weight loss approaches.

Most of the diets people follow create weight loss through one of two approaches or a combination of both. The first is to simply decrease your calorie consumption over time to lose weight. Often this is done by limiting portion sizes and/or replacing a meal or two a day with a low-calorie nutritional bar or shake. The other common diet plans shift the body into a ketogenic “fat-burning” state by limiting the consumption of carbohydrates below a physiological threshold so that the preferred source for energy moves from foods eaten during the day to the body’s own stores of energy… or fat.

In general most of the diets today utilizing either approach are encouraging more balance and diversity in the food choices that participants eat. That is a good thing and I think these approaches work. In fact, I see it over and over again in my office. Folks come in and they have lost weight in the past on various plans, but they have easily put the weight right back on. So what is wrong with these approaches and how come the results don’t last?

There is not anything wrong with a low calorie approach to losing weight. The problem arises when the lower calorie count is the result of meal replacement by bars or shakes. Though this may be an effective way to curtail calories during the diet, too often the number of calories consumed jumps right back up when eating returns to the pre-diet patterns. Meal replacement bars and shakes do not support long term diet goals because it is not sensible to continue eating that way indefinitely. Instead we should focus on cooking and eating “real food”. Being aware of the portions we consume is also recommended practice for our daily eating. Unfortunately, there is an accepted disregard and unconsciousness with which we eat today; often unaware of the colossal portions we mindlessly shovel into our mouths. Decreasing portion sizes is a good thing. Individuals have to become versed in fixing real foods and eating correct portions on a daily basis if health is to be obtained. A successful diet should impart practices that carry over to daily eating after the weight loss goals are met.

A ketogenic, or low carb/high protein diet, approach to weight loss has become increasingly popular during the past two decades. Participants are typically drawn to this dietary program because it generally allows an unlimited consumption of approved foods – mostly high protein meats and fats. The body naturally shifts into a ketogenic, fat-burning state, and weight loss soon follows. This dietary technique also keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable during the day. An added benefit of this approach that is quite often not discussed is the elimination of the more common food sensitivities. Here are the foods that I most often see individuals being reactive to: wheat, corn, soy, and dairy. The structure and requirements of the ketogenic diet eliminates these common foods. Wheat, corn, soy, and dairy are not food allergies in the more traditional sense. Instead the problem they present is more accurately described as a low-level sensitivity where frequent consumption increases systemic inflammation, decreases and stagnates digestive functioning, and leads to chronic water retention and weight gain over time. The actual food sensitivities vary from person to person, but most individuals that remove food sensitivities from their diet will lose weight, regardless of any other dietary changes. If someone loses weight following a ketogenic diet and secondarily unknowingly reaps the benefits from the elimination of food sensitivities, the weight will come right back on when they begin consuming the sensitive foods again. A lasting approach to weight loss should help participants discover their individual food sensitivities so that they can avoid them long term, maintain their ideal weight, and greatly improve their overall health.

There really isn’t a magic bullet or quick fix weight loss solution. The keys to successful long term weight loss are very simple in theory, just not necessarily easy to implement. The first step is to consume real foods in reasonable portion sizes, with a balance of proteins and carbohydrates at each meal and/or snack to keep blood sugars and insulin levels stable throughout the day. The next step is to avoid processed junk and convenience foods. Finally, in order to keep unwanted weight off, discover and avoid your individual food sensitivities. By following these important lifestyle practices 2011 will be the year you start down the road to a happy, healthy you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Immune Supports

It’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when children’s noses start running and parent’s stomachs start aching. While it may seem like the cold air brings on the various winter ailments, there is actually a known seasonal correlation with illness and immune function. We will look at how common issues such as vitamin D deficiency, increased stress, poor dietary choices, and decreased glutathione production can affect our susceptibility to illness during the winter months.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in our society. It seems like every week there is a new study correlating vitamin D deficiency with a different chronic or acute illness. This tendency towards deficiency becomes even more prevalent in the winter when the daytime sun is lower in the horizon and hence the rays that support vitamin D conversion in the skin are diffused on the approach through the atmosphere. This decrease in our vitamin D levels in the winter has been proposed as a causative factor for the seasonal association of RSV, Cold and Flu, and other winter illnesses. I personally supplement with 2000 to 4000 IUs of vitamin D3 during the winter and I make sure my daughters get 1000 IUs every day.

In addition to Vitamin D, there is another key nutrient that can play a pivotal roll in our winter immune function. That nutrient is N acetyl cysteine, an amino acid precursor to glutathione. Glutathione is vital for our health due to its ability to decrease oxidative damage and to neutralize free radicals. The formation of glutathione happens primarily in the liver and glutathione is a key component of our body’s detoxification process. In addition glutathione is important for our body’s immune response and cellular repair mechanisms. Glutathione is a vital component in some capacity for nearly every system in the body and when we are missing the nutritional precursors, our overall functioning decreases and susceptibility to illness increases.

Unfortunately most individuals, and doctors for that matter, are completely unaware that acetaminophen affects the production of glutathione in the liver. So taking any product with acetaminophen to address the pain and/or fever that often accompanies an illness will actually decrease our body’s own capacity to fight it. In cases where something is absolutely required for pain or fever, I recommend ibuprofen or naproxen for my family. But before that is even necessary, one can start taking N acetyl cysteine to increase glutathione production. N acetyl cysteine also has a unique action helping to liquefy mucus, so it is an ideal support for sinus infections and those nagging coughs where there is thick mucus stuck in the chest that just won’t come up.

Stress and increased cortisol levels are another concern that will suppress the body’s immune function. In general the hustle and bustle of the holidays creates stress in our lives which then increases our cortisol levels. We must be proactive in creating stress relief and healing opportunities for ourselves. Take time to find space for meditation, relaxation, and prayer during the winter months. At least once a day decompress and focus on the many things you have to be grateful for during the seasons. A simple and effective exercise is to take a deep inhalation through the nose, hold for a few seconds and release back through the nose. Wait a few seconds and then repeat. This cyclical deep breathing practice will help shift the body from a stress response into a more relaxed and healing state.

The dietary choices we make during the holidays are often times a great departure from our normal food consumptions. These drastic changes can lead to varying degrees of digestive disturbances that can create GI flora imbalances and an immune system that is susceptible to infection. Because our gut functions as a first line of defense against foreign pathogens, multiple studies have shown an increase in immune function from probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that help to rebalance the bacteria in our digestive tract. Taking a broad spectrum probiotic supplement at the first signs of a GI disturbance can help support the digestive process and avoid the potential decrease in immune function from a GI flora imbalance.

I will also often suggest some of the standard herbal immune stimulants when individuals aren’t feeling well or have recently been exposed to someone known to be suffering with a cold or flu. These herbs are best to be used for short periods of time to help rev up our immune response in acute situations. They should not be used throughout the winter due to their immune stimulatory effect. If we are constantly sending a message that our body should be fighting an infection even when we are not sick, then when we do get sick it will be much more difficult to mount an adequate immune response. The herbs I typically will recommend include: Echinacea, Goldenseal, Garlic, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Osha root, Shitake and Maitake mushrooms, Elderberry, and Astragalus.

Finally I want to share an incredibly easy and effective way to support our body’s healing abilities through the application of water, known as hydrotherapy. This is an approach I share regularly with patients. This at home immune support technique is called “Wet Socks” and should be considered at the first sign of any illness. The instructions are listed below. Peace and health to everyone this holiday season.


The wet sock treatment is best if repeated for three nights in a row, or as instructed by your physician. It can also be used as a prevention technique at the first signs of impending illness.

Indications: Sore throat or any inflammation or infection of the throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections. Through the increased circulation in the lower extremities this technique can also support healing of injuries, sprains, strains, and muscle soreness in the legs.


1 pair white cotton socks

1 pair thick wool socks or thick polar fleece socks


Warm bath or warm foot bath


1. Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water. Be sure to wring the socks out thoroughly so they do not drip.

2. Warm your feet first. This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective with cold feet. Warming can be accomplished by soaking your feet in warm water for at least 5-10 minutes or taking a warm bath for 5-10 minutes. If you feet are naturally warm, you do not need to soak or heat externally.

3. If wet, dry off feet and body with a towel.

4. Place cold, damp wet socks on feet. Cover with thick 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 completely dry in the morning.

Effects of the Wet Sock Treatment: This treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation through the legs and decrease the congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections.