The history of using herbs externally
8 MAY 2020 BY HEIKO LADE
Before going into a bit more detail about Moxa Foot Soaks, I will need to first introduce the concept of using herbs externally and how they can benefit.
External use of Chinese herbal medicines has had a history of thousands of years. Some herb combinations are used for the rehabilitation of injuries to treat bruising, swelling, inflammation, and pain. Other times herbs are applied externally to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and hives. They can be used to help conditions such as cold feet, swollen feet, insomnia, and digestive issues by utilizing them as foot soaks. Mugwort or commonly referred to as moxa is one of the most important herbs used in Chinese medicine and is the integral herb used in foot soaks.
How does applying herbs externally work?
The constituents of the herbs are released into the water when the herbs are cooked or seeped in boiling water. When the infused herbal water is applied to the skin either directly or via a cloth, the skin absorbs the chemical properties of the herbs to go into the surrounding tissue and into the bloodstream. According to Chinese medical theory, the properties of the herbs are also drawn into the acupuncture meridians which travel to all parts of the body including the organs. The meridians flow all over the body from the feet to the head.
What type of properties do Herbs have?
From a traditional perspective, herbs can have actions such as moving stuck energy and stuck blood and resolving dampness which equates to the removal of oedema and swelling. Another example is dried ginger which is warming and could help with cold feet from poor circulation.
What is special about Moxa (mugwort) in these Foot Soaks?
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), commonly referred to as moxa, is an herb known for its blood regulation and circulation properties. This action of moxa then helps the action of any added herbs to travel to the meridians and henceforth to other parts of the body.
What variety of Moxa Foot Soaks are there?
There is of course no limits as to what herbs can be added to a foot soak to target all sorts of complaints and conditions. The combinations below are commonly available and can help with a broad range of conditions.
The Moxa Dried Ginger combination has moxa, dried ginger (sometimes referred to as old ginger), glechoma, Sichuan pepper, angelica root, and safflower.
The herb combination in this case is warming. This warming action is local but also affects other internal organs. Local in this case means that it helps chronic cold feet. The added herbs safflower and angelica root improve blood mobilization will help cold feet for people with arterial and venous supply issues such as those with varicose veins. In traditional Chinese medicine, when the stomach is cold from a prolonged diet of cold raw food, symptoms such nausea, bloating, stomach pain and vomiting could be present. The herbs dried ginger and Sichuan pepper address this. In other instances, when the bladder becomes congealed with cold, there could be inhibited urine and glechoma can address this.
The Moxa Safflower combination contains moxa, safflower, glechoma, notopterygium root and tu-huo root. In this case the dual action of moxa and safflower strongly mobilize blood circulation through out the body as well as the feet. Swollen ankles, calves and puffy knees are said to be caused by accumulation of dampness. The last three herbs in the combination address this oedema and swelling. Dampness can also get stuck in the digestive system causing bloating and a dragging down sensation during menstruation which can be another indication for using this combination Moxa Foot Soak.
How do you use the Moxa Foot soaks?
The herbs come in what resembles a large tea bag. Put one bag in a basin or bucket and add boiling water. Usually on average two jugs of boiling water is sufficient. Let this steep for a while and then add some more cold water. The ideal temperature for the person will vary between individuals but you should be able to comfortably put your feet into the basin and keep them. Sit in chair and let your feet soak for about 15 minutes and ideally before sleep is best. Doing it just before sleep helps draw down excess energy from the head and mind and promotes a better sleep.
Where can Moxa Foot Soaks be obtained from?
There is always ample stock of Moxa Foot Soaks available to patients of The Acupuncture Clinic and for those people in other regions they can be obtained from Kinetic Distributions.