Taking care of our feet for our health
Do you have cold feet. Feet that are so cold even a pair of wool socks don't warm them. In Chinese medicine, foot soaks are a big part of its traditions. The feet are important when it comes to our health maintenance, they are the foundation of the body's energy system, but they are often overlooked. A ¼ of the body's bones are in the feet and there are over 7000 nerve endings in each foot. There are 6 meridian organ systems and over 70 acupuncture points that run through the feet. For a person to have good health, a person must have a good amount of Qi (Energy), the Qi and blood must flow freely through the meridians and the five major organ pairs and systems must work in harmony. The feet have points that correspond to many parts of the body, as seen in both acupuncture and reflexology. Soaking in hot water activates blood and energy throughout the body. By using a herbal foot bath, the body can absorb the herbs through the skin and travel through the energy channels to target points or organ systems. Herbal foot baths can have many healing benefits on the body and is a great way to treat your body after long busy days.
To quote a saying from China, “When a tree dies, it is the roots that die first.” So too, as our bodies age, it is our feet (and legs) that decline first.
To make a herbal foot soak it is best to make sure your feet and ankles are covered by warm water. It is best to let your herbs steep in the foot bath for about 15 minutes prior to you using it. You want to soak your feet for 15-30 minutes or until you start to break a sweat. Some minor sweating is good but excessive sweating consumes too much energy.
The optimal time for foot baths would be before you go to bed which will help you sleep. If you are pregnant or have medical issues discuss herbal foot baths with your doctor first. You should avoid using foot baths after drinking alcohol, or if you are very tired. If during a foot bath you feel dizzy, remove your feet from the water of add cold water to the basin, this will cause the blood vessels to contract and relieve dizziness.
Some simple things you can add to a foot soak that you may even have in your kitchen are:
Ginger – Warms the body, helps with aches and pains and helps relieves colds
Epsom salt – Helps with digestion, reduces pain and swelling and improves sleep
Vinegar – Improves foot odor, prevents fungal infections, enhances circulation
Lemon juice – Works as a natural exfoliant to remove calluses
Mugwort – Good for tired, swollen feet and helps with digestion