Foot Bathing & Immune Function

Effects of footbathing on autonomic nerve and immune function

Yuka Saekia, Nobuo Nagaia, 1 and Michiko Hishinumab

aNagano College of Nursing, 1694 Akaho, Komagane, Nagano 399-4117, Japan bSt. Luke's College of Nursing, 10-1 Akashi-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0044, Japan

Available online 20 February 2007.

Summary The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of footbathing on autonomic nerve and immune function.

Eleven healthy female volunteers (aged 2224 years) undertook footbaths at 42 C for 10 min, with or without additional mechanical stimulation (air bubbles and vibration). Autonomic responses were evaluated by electrocardiography and spectral analysis of heart rate variability, and by measurement of blood flow in the sural region.

White blood cell (WBC) counts, ratios of lymphocyte subsets, and natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity were used as indicators of immune function. Footbathing with mechanical stimulation produced (1) significant changes in the measured autonomic responses, indicating a shift to increased parasympathetic and decreased sympathetic activity and (2) significant increases in WBC count and NK cell cytotoxicity, suggesting an improved immune status.

Because these physiological changes are likely to be of benefit to health, our findings support the use of footbathing in nursing practice.

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Volume 13, Issue 3, August 2007, Pages 158-165

doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2006.12.006

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