Imagine supporting your blood circulation, immune system, sleep quality, joint health and more—without lifting a finger—other than changing the channel on your remote. That’s right, while you’re watching a 30-minute sitcom you can support your overall wellness by enjoying the ancient practice of a TCM herbal foot bath. Now with the convenience of the most concentrated single-herb extract granules on the market, the ancient practice of herbal foot baths now has a modern twist.
So let’s learn about TCM herbal foot baths.
The Theory Behind Herbal Foot Soaking in TCM
On any given night in the Far East, millions of people soak their feet in herbal-infused hot water each night. From a purely visceral standpoint, the practice is very enjoyable and a great way to wind down from a hard day at work or just soothe sore, achy, tired feet.
But on a deeper level, there’s more to the story behind herbal foot baths. Soaking the feet in hot water and herbs before going to bed at night is thought to support health in many ways. We’ll get to those benefits shortly. But first, let’s talk about the theory behind TCM herbal foot soaking.
In the West, feet are regarded by many people as utilitarian appendages. They get us from point A to point B. They are something one thinks about only when there is pain or discomfort or annoying mosquito bites.
In comparison, TCM recognizes that the feet are a hotbed of energy. You see, the feet contain dozens of acupuncture points that run along 6 energy channels (meridians). These points are like little power stations, which regulate and balance the flow of Qi. And if you’ve ever received a foot massage, you know how these energy points can affect the rest of the body.
Moreover, TCM theory evolved by observing the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. This includes humanity and its relationship with the Earth. Thus, the structure of the human body is similar to a tree. Anchoring our trunk (our chest, abdomen, pelvis, and back) is the root of our body: the feet.
And just like the health of any tree or plant depends on the health of the roots, so, too, does our health depend on maintaining healthy feet. (That is to say feet that have no Qi obstruction.) Doing a nightly TCM foot bath, then, ensures that our body’s roots are properly hydrated.
Finally, from a Western perspective, it makes sense to do a foot soak. After all, out of 206 bones in the human body, more than 12% are located in the feet.
What Are The Benefits Of A TCM Herbal Foot Bath?
TCM recognizes that the feet are a hotbed of energy. They contain dozens of acupuncture points that run along 6 energy channels (meridians).
The benefits largely depend on which herb or herbs are being used. But in general, in TCM theory, herbal foot baths primarily support blood and Qi circulation. This is what makes foot soaking ideal for people who don’t enjoy vigorous exercise or for those who are unable to perform it.
But the action of a TCM herbal foot bath doesn’t just affect the feet. For instance, TCM theory believes that soaking the feet can help resolve Qi obstruction in distant parts of the body, such as the head. In addition, foot soaking may help support Qi circulation in organ systems throughout the body. Thus, TCM herbal foot baths may support Yin/Yang balance.
And by supporting the body’s homeostasis, foot soaking with herbs may support sleep quality, cardiovascular circulation, joint health, mood and the immune system.
In the colder months, TCM herbal foot soaking is especially ideal for dispelling Cold from the body.
How To Do A TCM Herbal Foot Soak
Not all that long ago, the only way to do a TCM herbal foot soak was to steep raw herbs in boiling water for several minutes.
But thanks to the convenience of herbal extract granules, once you have water heated to your desired temperature, you don’t have to wait. In just seconds after adding a scoop or two of extract granules to the water, your TCM foot bath is ready to be enjoyed.
For optimal results, soak your feet for 20-30 minutes. You can also add Epsom salt to the foot bath as well as essential oils.
As far as which specific herbs to choose, here are some of the most often-used ones for foot baths:
- Ai Ye – Chinese Mugwort Leaf disperses cold and alleviates discomfort, ideal for wintertime use!
- Ku Shen – Sophora Root supports the Liver organ system and skin.
- She Chuang Zi – Cnidium fruit seems like it’s missing a vowel, but in TCM it’s ideal for refueling your body’s natural heating energy (Yang) while also drying dampness and expelling wind.
- Huang Bo – The bark from the amur tree supports the body’s detoxification pathways and in doing so may support the skin.
- Dan Shen – Take a Salvia Root foot bath to support circulation. (Learn more about Dan Shen on the ActiveHerb.com blog here.)
If you’re not sure which herb to use for a TCM foot bath, you can access the ActiveHerb Health Topics list. Select your health topics and then you will see a corresponding herbal formula. From there, you can select one or two single herbs from that formula.
At the end of the day, nothing beats a relaxing TCM herbal foot bath. Don’t neglect your feet. They are very important for maintaining overall balance and health in the body.