Nagai N; Hishinuma M
Nagano College of Nursing, 1694 Akaho, Komagane, Nagano 399-4117, Japan. yukaS@md.tsukuba.ac.jp
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of footbathing on autonomic nerve and immune function. Eleven healthy female volunteers (aged 22-24 years) undertook footbaths at 42 degrees 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.