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Herbal Foot Baths to Promote Health

In herbal foot bathing, the feet are immersed in a tub filled with a special herbal solution. Ancient physicians believed that: "the three yin meridians (Liver, Spleen and Kidney) start from the toes, and exterior coldness tends to invade from the soles; washing the feet before sleep helps to warm the yin meridians and expel the coldness." Based on long term experience, they commented that:

  • Washing feet in spring promotes the yang qi to flow upward, and thus consolidates the internal organs in their proper positions;
  • Washing feet in summer helps to eliminate dampness (relieves tiredness and promotes the appetite);
  • Washing feet in autumn nourishes the lungs and promotes its functioning (less chance of respiratory problems developing);
  • Washing feet in winter can warm up the dan-tian (enhance resistance against cold weather).

In addition to immersing the feet in a hot solution, massage is applied on the toes and soles to enhance the stimulation. Generally, the Liver Meridian and Spleen Meridian run through the big toe; the Stomach Meridian runs through the second toe; the Gall Bladder Meridian runs through the fourth toe; the Bladder Meridian runs through the small toe and the Kidney Meridian runs through the center of the sole. For example, massaging the big toes can invigorate the digestive functions; the fourth toes can relieve constipation and rib sides discomfort; the small toe is helpful to prevent bedwetting in children and uterine problems in women, while the center of the sole is beneficial for kidney problems.

Herbal foot bathing is widely used as a supplementary healing therapy for conditions like skin diseases, joint pain, hypertension, insomnia or diarrhea in children. Each time prepare a herbal decoction in an amount sufficient to cover ankles; keep the water temperature between 50 -60˘J, and soak for at least 15 minutes; do this one to three times daily. After bathing, wipe the feet properly, keep warm and avoid wind; raise the feet and rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

Below are sample prescriptions:

1. Hypertension

Ingredients Gambir vine stem (20g crushed) and borneol (5g), stuff up with a gauze bag.
Methods Steep the bag into the bathtub and soak for 30 to 45 minutes each time. The same bag can be used twice daily, after waking up or before sleep. Ten days is one course.

Ingredients Selfheal fruit spike (30g), gambir vine stem (20g), mulberry leaf (15g) and chrysanthemum (20g); prepared as decoction. See picture
Methods Each time soak for 10 to 15 minutes, 1 to 2 times daily.

2. Insomnia

Ingredients Magnetite (30g), baical skullcap root, chrysanthemum and fleece flower stem (15g of each); prepare as a decoction. See picture
Methods Soak before sleep.

3. Emission or premature ejaculation

Ingredients Agrimony grass (30g), baical skullcap root and peony root bark (9g of each); prepare as a decoction.
Methods Soak before sleep.

4. Ankle injuries

Ingredients Sappan wood (30g), peach kernel and resinous secretion (12g of each), safflower, ground beetles, frankincense and myrrh (10g of each), pyrite (20g); prepare as a decoction.
Methods Soak for 30 minutes.

5. Frostbite of the foot / Limbs coldness

Ingredients Cassia twig and dried ginger (15g of each), monkshood (10g); prepare as decoction. See picture
Methods Soak for 8 to 10 minutes each time, three times daily.

6. Fungal infection of the feet

Ingredients Oldenlandia herb, cnidium seeds and dictamnus root bark (30g of each), baical skullcap root and oriental water-plantain root (15g of each); prepare as a decoction. See picture
Methods Soak for 50 minutes each time, which is most applicable in summer time.

7. Menstrual pain

Ingredients Motherwort herb, nutgrass flatsedge rhizome, frankincense, myrrh and selfheal fruit spike (20g of each); prepare as a 2000ml decoction. See picture
Methods Soak for 15 to 30 minutes each time.

8. Child bedwetting

Ingredients Japanese teasel root, cibot rhizome and dodder seed (30g of each), pilose asiabell root and poria (20g of each), liquorice root (6g); prepare as a 1000ml decoction.
Methods Soak for 30 minutes each time.

9. Excessive sweating of the feet

Ingredients Kudzuvine root (60g) and alum (30g), prepare as a 2000ml decoction.
Methods Soak for 30 minutes each time. The solution helps to arrest sweating and itchiness.