Winter is here. It is the season of kidney and urinary bladder systems in Chinese medicine. The kidneys are strongly connected with our reproductive functions.
Imagine the human body to a tree, with the torso as the trunk, the arms the branches and the feet the root. It is where we connect with the earth. They help us to stand, walk, run, surf and skate. The feet contain ¼ of all the bones in the body. They are where the leg yin (Kidney, Liver, Spleen) channels begin and where the leg yang (Gallbladder, Stomach, Urinary Bladder) channels end. That’s 6 meridians that reach the feet, each of which has more than 60 acupuncture points. The feet have points that correspond to many parts and organs of the body. The kidney channel starts on the sole of the foot, so be sure to warm shoes that cover your entire feet and thick socks. Avoid walking barefoot on cold concrete and tiles.
The feet are very important in maintaining and restoring balance in the body for good health. I’m sure you are all aware of reflexology, which is a specialised form of Chinese medicine. Traditionally, warm foot baths were used at night before going to bed to improve blood circulation and help with sleep. Especially over winter, one of my favourite ways to assist patients is with a herbal foot soak. Foot soak’s have been used for centuries. They can assist with bunions, athlete’s foot, and much more. Our feet tend to get neglected in the cooler months.
How to use a foot soak:
- Book a consultation with a Chinese medicine herbalist
- 1 bag of herbs will last 7 days.
- Put herbs in a large pot, add as much water as you can (up to 8L). ·
- Cover the pot and bring the herbs to boil.
- Turn down the flame and simmer slowly for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove pot.
- Pour liquid into a “foot soak” bucket (aka anything that you can put boiling hot water and your feet in) and wait until you can put your feet in the water. You want it to be warm but not uncomfortable hot.
- Soak feet before bed, for 20 minutes or until you break a sweat*, then remove your feet.
- After using soak, dry the skin and keep it warm (please no barefoot walking on cold floor!).
The soak can be used once a day up to 7 days. No need to boil again, reheat the liquid to a sufficiently warm temperature.
*Sweating a little bit is agood sign of unblocking energy pathways, but too much sweating isn’t ideal as it consumes too much energy. It may take longer to sweat for those with blockages or an insufficient supply of energy. This should change over time when soaking regularly.
**Please don’t soak after consuming alcohol or when feeling fatigued.
DIY foot soaks:
Add about 1½ cups of epsom salts to warm water. Alleviates constipation, reduces fatigue, improves sleep
Ginger & white wine:
Ginger slices (50g), Chinese white wine (50ml)
Directions: Boil the ginger in water for a few minutes. Then add ginger water and wine to hot water in a bucket. Especially good for those with cold extremities in winter.
Ginger & dandelion:
Ginger (50g), dandelion (50g)
Directions: Boil ingredients in water. Add to hot water in a basin.
This soak helps relieve symptoms of flu, fever or headache.
Motherwort, chrysanthemum, skullcap root & fleeceflower stem:
These herbs together activate blood circulation, warms the uterus and may relieves painful menstruation.
Remember you can book online for your free 15 minute health consultation for more herbal soaks ideas.