MEDICINAL FOOT SOAK THERAPY
Let's take a moment to go over the new rock star in our clinic: Medicinal Herbal Foot Soaks. These power packed soaks may have made a recent debut in our clinic but have been around for centuries in Asia.
People in Asia have been soaking their feet in herbs for thousands of years and is common practice in places like China. Much like how people currently have gym memberships, you’ll find many people with monthly memberships for foot soaks. But why? To quote a Chinese saying, “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.
Consider how our legs are as children. We move with extreme ease. Walking is fluid and graceful, and the impact of each step is expertly absorbed without harming our bodies. Our feet are warm and supple from our perfect circulation. Now imagine the effects of aging. Our feet become cold from lack of circulation. This leads to venous insufficiency which can be observed by protruding varicose veins and edema present in our ankles. The lack of fresh, nourishing blood begins to deteriorate our nerves causing first pain in the feet, followed by worsening numbness. The fascia in our feet becomes stiff from lack of nourishment. Pretty soon our legs stiffen, leading to harsh impact on our knees, hips, back, and neck. The pain in our joints leads us to not want to be as active, further worsening the circulation in our body.
It’s easy to see how this progression quickly becomes a cycle of worsening deterioration. This a major cause of pain, dysfunction, and reduced quality of life. Furthermore, the decrease in blood flow can turn fatal, leading to stroke or heart attack. This is where the foot soaks shine!
How Do They Work?
Have you ever soaked your feet in warm water? It’s an incredibly relaxing, and almost spa like treatment. Now imagine that feeling with profound healing effects. That’s how the foot soaks work.
Initially, the feet and ankles get submerged in very nice warm water. This has an effect to cause the blood vessels in the feet to dilate, carrying fresh blood (oxygen, nutrients) into the feet. The heat of the water also has an effect to unlock the precious constituents of the herbs. With the blood flow opened, the body is primed for the transdermal absorption of the terpenes, volatile oils, and alkaloids found within the herbs.
This initial action of vasodilation has a mild tranquilizing effect and lowers blood pressure. People often report extreme relaxation or the desire to sleep. As the soak continues, the herbs cause the vasodilation to spread up the legs and begin improving circulation into the rest of the body. As circulation improves in the chest and heart, there is a mild increase in heart rate. This is a very beneficial action as it simulates a mild cardiovascular exercise, something not easily done when someone suffers from severe pain. This also tends to improve energy (mitochondrial function) in those with chronic fatigue. As the circulation spreads further up and into the head, a mild sweat may occur.
Internally, the herbal foot soaks behave something like the way a snow globe looks once shaken. This means that the extracellular impurities and dead tissue that has accumulated in our legs and feet make their way back into our circulation. At this point, the immune system signals macrophages (a type of white blood cell) to eat away dead tissue and rid the body of these impurities.
What Can They Treat?
Herbal foot soaks are used as primary and adjunct therapy for many chronic conditions such as:
Peripheral neuropathy, Fibromyalgia syndrome, low back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hip pain, arthritis pain, plantar fasciitis, Raynaud’s disease/phenomenon, digestive issues, gynaecological issues, and some skin issues.
A Break Down of the Formula
To accomplish results, we only use herbs of the best quality possible. Dr. Andrew Miles DOM and Dr. Xuelan Qiu PhD (pharmacology) who spent the time testing and acquiring the herbs for this formula describe them as “the highest quality found on Earth.” They went to the herbs growing regions, paid respect to the local culture, met the local chief and Lamas, obtained the support of the local governments, went through the quality tests and finally - got the best to you.
Du Yi Wei (Lamiophlomis rotata)
Du Yi Wei is an herb used in traditional Tibetan medicine. Historically, it has been used in the treatment of wounds and internal bleeding from injuries and inflammation. It decreases pain and inflammation and increases antioxidants. This is likely due to its positive effects on cytokines (cellular communicators). Du Yi Wei also promotes red blood cell production and has a positive effect on arterial stenosis, which may be one reason people notice positive effects on their blood pressure.
Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii)
Qiang Huo is an especially precious herb as it was originally designated for the elite of Beijing. Actually, in the last thousand years, if you used it without being a member of the royal family, it was off with your head (yikes!). It has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal effects )both of which influence pain signaling). Its analgesic effect is perhaps the thing it’s most widely used for, but studies also indicate that it increases blood circulation to the coronary arteries and is useful in the treatment of arrhythmia. For the latter effects, it pairs well with the next herb in our formula.
Hong Jing Tian (Rhodiola Crenulata)
Hong Jing Tian (rhodiola) has made quite a name for itself as being an excellent remedy for altitude sickness. This may be due to its ability to increase oxygen in the body. It works well to help with fatigue, especially by way of improving metabolic functioning. It also exhibits marked antioxidant effects (inhibits xanthine oxidase). Other functions include improved immune function and some anticancer effects (particularly breast cancer).
Zang Hong Hua (Crocus sativa stigma)
Zang Hong Hua is a Tibetan saffron with similar properties to Hong Hua (saffron); however, it is considered much stronger (and much more expensive). Like saffron, it has great effects to relieve pain and decrease inflammation. Zang Hong Hua has effects to improve depression and anxiety, help with cough, increase blood flow, lower blood pressure and has notable antioxidant properties. Additionally, it may help those with seizures and may serve as an aphrodisiac.
Zang Chang Pu (Rhizoma Acori Calami)
Zang Chang Pu is an herb with mild tranquilizing effects. It serves as an antimicrobial and has been shown to have positive effects on the digestive system. Some compounds found in Zang Chang Pu specifically had effects to improve blood flow into the stomach and intestines. This is perhaps one reason why we see positive effects on digestive health from using foot soaks. This can be a game changer for those with bad digestive problems who cannot otherwise digest herbs or pharmaceutical medicines well. Further, Zang Chang Pu has been extensively researched for because of its efficacy in treating multiple types of peripheral neuropathy (chemo-induced, nerve transection, and chronic constriction).
Ku Shen (Radix Sophorae Flavescentis)
Ku Shen is another interesting herb with a long history of use in Chinese medicine. Often known for its positive effects in treating skin conditions, modern research confirms that it has broad spectrum antimicrobial effects (antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic). Ku Shen actually has an inhibitory effect on bacterial biofilms. These biofilms are a mucus covering that bacteria put on to protect themselves from our body’s immune system attack. Once the normal inflammatory action of our body has decreased, the bacteria are once again able to proliferate and reek havoc on our system. Biofilms are a factor implicated in many chronic diseases ranging from obesity to Parkinson’s or dementia. Biofilms are often found in any type of chronic disease or chronic inflammatory condition.
Ai Ye (Folium Artemisiae Argyi)
Ai Ye is an herb famously known as ‘mugwort’. This herb is often dried and then burned over various areas of the body (both for the heat and for the volatile oils released). This is frequently used over the lower abdomen for those experiencing menstrual problems or over the lumbar spine, which has been found to have beneficial effects on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis. Ai Ye contains strong volatile oils which are antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Additionally, they have the ability to inhibit blood clotting and increase the secretion of bile (which may help burn fat).
Gan Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis)
Gan Jiang, or ginger, is extremely commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine as it has an ability to protect the mucosa of the stomach lining. This is extremely important since some herbs, while medicinally beneficial, can be harsh on the digestive system. Gan Jiang is often used to mitigate these types of effects in order to minimize and often completely eliminate the possibility of side effects. Gan Jiang has protective effects on the liver, pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, is antibacterial and also prevents blood clots.
Kala Namak is a Himalayan black salt which sports an impressive mineral density. In particular, it contains a gaseous compound known as hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Hydrogen sulfide, while in excess is a poisonous gas, is also a known gastro-transmitter (gaseous signalling molecule) made by the kidneys. The ability for the kidneys to produce this gas declines with age. Interestingly, this gas is known to interact with a gene known as the Klotho gene, which is associated with longevity. The minerals found in this salt are known to improve relaxation, promote circulation (which helps with pain, and may help with swelling (via the lymphatic system). Sea salt soaking has also been used in the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis.
We are truly blessed to have access to herbal medicine of this caliber. Check out this video showing the region these herbs come from.
Interested in Medicinal Foot Soak Therapy and wondering if it's right for you? Contact Nicole with your questions!