“Why is there a pair of socks in the freezer?!” My roommate asked, eyeing me like she had just discovered my Diva cup in the dishwasher.
“I think I am coming down with a cold,” I responded, reaching around her to liberate my socks from where they lay, wedged between a bottle of cheap vodka and a box of black bean burgers -- prime freezer real estate.
You know the usual cold remedies: drink lots of water, avoid booze, sleep sleep sleep, sip some tea. Repeat. But freezing your socks? What holistic wizardry is this?
I try to avoid traditional medicine when I can, and this trick is my favorite way to ditch that hot nasty head and chest congestion that seems to be synonymous with a New England winter. I gleaned it from my crunchiest ladyfriend who is currently studying to be a naturopathic doctor. I am constantly calling her with complaints and queries like, “My uterus is treasonous!” or, “Would you consider a splooge swallow vegan? Those little guys are still swimming,” and, “Coffee enemas aren't actually a real thing, are they?” (Unfortunately, they are.)
This freezer sock business is actually referred to as a warm sock treatment, because you wake up with warm socks. However, the term “warm sock treatment” is quite generous, as it glosses over the fact that you first have to hop into bed with frosty toes. But I promise, it's worth it.
The reason this trick works is because it helps increase circulation your feet, which moves that nasty congestion away from your head and chest. Plus, you get to sleep through the process; I'm a big fan of sleeping through any medical process that doesn't involve nitrous oxide and me making awkward jokes to my oral surgeon regarding my boyfriend's feeling about my tiny mouth.
So how does it work?
- Soak a pair of thin cotton socks in water and wring them out.
- Put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Try not to roll them in coffee grounds and bits of freezer debris.
- Put them on your feet and cover them with a pair of warm, thermal socks—this part is key!
- Go to sleep.
You will wake up with dry socks, warm feet, and no more hot-headed, flem-rattling chest cold.
Okay, what else do I do when I am sick? Allow me to give you a run-down.
Bathe (your food) in Sriracha
I know lots of people lose their appetite when they're sick, although I tend to crankily eat my feelings instead. But drop that whole tired chicken soup routine. When I am sick, I eat the spiciest things I can find. This makes my nose run and helps clear out my sinuses, which makes me feel better immediately.
If you've lost your sense of taste along with your cold, then you can tolerate even spicier food than normal, and what's more appealing than someone sweating out curry? Not much. If you're feeling lazy -- which you are, because you're sick! -- then a quick way to up your spicy food intake is to intercept your food as it makes its way to your mouth, and drench it in Sriracha.
Sweating and nose running aside, this spicy food tactic is effective in the long term because it raises your body temp, which can increase the efficiency of your immune response. (i.e., you get better faster -- hoorah!) Exercise can do this too, but people tend to get all sorts of pissy when I tell them I like to workout when I'm sick.
It stops coughing! I swear. It contains theobromine, a component that beat out codeine in a clinical study on coughing and -- okay, sorry, I'll stop. I really just like to eat chocolate, and this trick has saved me from grossing out all my coworkers with my nasty chest cough that sounded like I had an enraged feral animal trapped inside my rib cage.
If it doesn't work for you, well at least you got to eat some chocolate. But aim for the darkest you can go without gagging -- it will have more concentrated levels of theobromine, and less sugar. (Sugar is immune system kryptonite! Sweet, heavenly kryptonite.)
Frost your armpits
Oh, what's that? You have a fever? Put some ice in your pits. Sticking an icepack under each armpit will bring your body temperature down and help break your fever.
I haven't actually had a fever since my senior year of college, when Satan's urinary tract infection camped out in my kidneys. But I battled it with ice under my armpits until I could snag some antibiotics. Apparently this trick also works with your crotch, but no fever could ever convince me to get over the paranoia of accidentally turning my most beloved morsel into Frosty the Diabolical Snow Clit.
Have you ever put your socks in the freezer? Your Diva cup in the dishwasher? How do you take care of yourself when you're sick?
For more holistic wizardry and the occasional 140-character love letter to Sriracha, follow Zoe on Twitter at @sexytofublog.