Autonomic, neuro-immunological and psychological responses to wrapped warm footbaths--a pilot study

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2008 Aug;14(3):195-203. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2008.04.001. Epub 2008 Jun 4.


This study examined the immediate effects of wrapped warm footbaths (WW Footbath) on the autonomic, neuroimmunological and psychological activities in healthy middle-aged volunteers. Thirteen subjects were divided into a footbath group (n=7) and a control group (n=6). Immediate changes in autonomic activities were recorded with wavelet analysis of heart rate variability. Salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) and serum cortisol levels were used as neuroimmunological parameters. Psychological conditions were measured using a Visual Analog Scale. Parasympathetic activity tended to increase and sympathetic activity decrease after footbaths.

Results: Changes in the relaxation indices, that is, sIgA and serum cortisol levels showed that both lying down and footbath resulted in a relaxed state.

Conclusion: WW Footbaths can be an effective method of relaxation, since it induces both a significant increase in parasympathetic activity and significant decrease in sympathetic activity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Baths*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Foot
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / analysis*
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Sex Factors
  • Sympathetic Nervous System*


  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Hydrocortisone