How Chinese Foot Baths Can Improve Your Health

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The Importance of the Feet

Feet are the foundation of the body’s energy system, yet they are an often overlooked part of the body.

 

One-quarter of the body’s bones are in the feet, and over 72,000 nerve endings. Six meridians (liver, gall bladder, kidney, bladder, spleen, and stomach) run through the feet, containing over 70 acupuncture points.  Feet are also more subject to injury than any other part of the body.

 

The ancient Chinese compared the human body to a tree with your arms are the branches, your torso is the trunk, and your feet are the roots.  When people age, one of the first things that weakens is their root, resulting in mobility issues. 

 

Healing Foot Baths

One of the ways that people in China improve their health is with foot baths.  In Daoist temples, many people use this practice, particularly in the winter. 

 

To try a foot bath at home, fill a basin with hot water.  Each person’s reaction to hot water will be different, so start at a low temperature and add hot water as tolerated.  Soak your feet for at least 15 minutes. 

 

In China, we add medicinal herbs to our foot baths.  But, there are ingredients you may have in your kitchen or growing in your back yard that you can add to your bath water:

Ginger – Warms the body, helps with aches and pains, relieves colds with runny nose

Epsom salt – Alleviates constipation, reduces fatigue, 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 and swollen feet (Roman centurions used mugwort inside their shoes to keep their feet healthy!)

 

3 Tips for a Great Foot Bath

1. To bathe or not to bathe?

If you are pregnant or have any medical issues, discuss foot bathing with your doctor before starting.  You should avoid bathing your feet when you are hungry or very full, after drinking alcohol, or when you are very tired.  If you feel dizzy during your foot bath, remove your feet from the water, or add cold water to the basin.  This will cause your blood vessels to contract, and help relieve dizziness.

 

2.  All About Sweating

As you bathe your feet, you may find your body warming with sweat.  Some minor sweating is good, but excessive sweating consumes too much energy, so you should end your foot bath before heavy sweating begins. 

 

3.  Timing 

The optimal time for foot baths is right before bed, which will have the added benefit of helping you sleep.  The best way to follow up a foot bath is with sleep or a foot massage.   

 

Foot bathing is a simple practice, but it can have a great effect on your health.  Why not give it a try?  Leave a comment below and let us know how it went!