I read about a folk remedy for a cold or flu called the “wet socks treatment.”

What we have to do is soak our feet in water as hot as we can stand for around 10 minutes. Then we dry our feet. Then we soak a pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring them out and put them on. Next we pull on a pair of dry wool socks over the wet cotton socks, get into bed and go to sleep.

Oh, sure. There we are, already miserable with a bad cold or the flu, we’ve got on wet socks and we’re going to bed and go right to sleep?

This “wet socks treatment” is a great way to “stimulate the immune system and draw congestion away from the upper body,” according to a naturopath who lived in Portland, Oregon.

She grew up in Centerville where, we gather, she learned about this folk remedy. Any place called Centerville is bound to be a beehive of folklore.

The article waffled a little on 100 percent success with wet socks, noting that not everyone responds the same to folk remedies.

It quoted another doctor in Los Angeles who said that “using folk remedies “quickly and aggressively will sometimes limit severity or even abort a cold.”

The L.A. doctor went on to talk about hot chicken soup, the claimed curative powers with which we are all familiar. Even those of us who hate chicken soup will hold our nose and guzzle it down on the theory that it might help and won’t hurt.

The doctor said that scientific research shows that hot chicken soup helps break up nasal congestion and the garlic in it has antibiotic properties. The article also mentioned the sinus-clearing attributes of pepper, ginger and horseradish. So what we could do to our chicken soup, for added benefits, is grind in a heavy dose of pepper and grate in some fresh ginger and horseradish. Should improve the chicken soup, too.

I figure we might as well heat up the chicken soup while we’re getting ready to soak our feet in the hot water and try both remedies at the same time — maybe while we’re watching the evening news so we can get all the unpleasantness over at one time.

Then we’ll dip those cotton socks in cold water, put them on, pull on the dry wool socks over the wet ones and go to bed. Alone, I presume, because who is going to sleep with us when we smell strongly of garlic and horseradish, have on itchy wool socks which will soon be damp themselves —and are sick to boot?

We need to stay in bed, both medical and naturopathic doctors agree. Nothing beats rest for getting over respiratory illnesses.

It would be an ideal time to catch up on our reading but the trouble with being sick enough to stay in bed is that we don’t feel like reading either. Our eyes feel funny, our head aches — and now we’ve got wet feet too.

Or — maybe if we just threatened our body with wet socks, chicken soup, garlic, pepper, horseradish and ginger, it would give the old immune system a warning nudge.

Mary McClure lives in Lawton.

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