Boosting Immunity Gently
It’s a cold and blustery day and I have a miserable head cold. Cold season seems to have come early this year and caught me unprepared before I had begun my usual prevention protocol for myself and my family. Many of the patients coming into the clinic are sniffly and snuffly. My intern student Eileen tells me that the flu is going around all the schools and that there are lots of sick kids out there! All I can think of is getting home to have a nice hot bath. Better even would be to have a free few hours to get to someplace that has a sauna and a cold plunge pool and a hot tub. Using water to increase immunity and clear congestion has always been an easy and effective solution for my family and I.
Before I reach for the Vit C or the Echinacea I will almost always use water to try and treat a cold or flu. Even treating a sick child with the Wet Sock Treatment is gentle and effective and often rounds out a home treatment to help the body fight and recover from a viral infection.
Humans have used water for healing for a very long time. The study and practice of hydrotherapy dates far back into recorded history. Hydrotherapy stimulates the lymphatic system and white blood cell production. It also increases circulation and helps raise body temperature a bit to help fight off infection. Using a combination of cold and hot water is a common therapy. The cold water constricts blood vessels and the hot water dilates blood vessels, creating kind of a “pump” to assist with blood and lymph flow. The use of cold socks after a warm foot bath or a plunge in a cold plunge pool after a warm pool or the famous roll in the snow after a sauna, are ways to use this physiological pump.
Aromatherapy, salt, herbs or therapeutic mud can be added to baths to accomplish different levels of stimulation, relaxation or detoxification. Eucalyptus essential oil is commonly used for congestion. Lavender essential oil is used for relaxation and often citrus oils or ylang ylang are used for stimulation and to help clear the head to help with thinking. Mud or peat is often used to detoxify or draw, and many different herbs can be used to make a tub of therapeutic water. Bath tea is often used for children – chamomile is a wonderful bath tea to help with children who have sleep issues and green tea is a lovely bath that is detoxifying.
At Barefoot Health we offer different forms of alternating hot and cold therapies for patients who are experiencing colds and flus or even more serious bronchitis or pneumonia. See our website for details.
So as I am wrapping up my clinic shift this afternoon and planning how I am going to fight off and recover from my cold. I am thinking of a hot bath, a cold cloth on my sinuses and perhaps some eucalyptus oil. Happy bathing!
Dr. Lisa Dorn