Cold Hands and Feet? Try this ancient remedy to help improve circulation
Have cold and changing temperatures affected your circulation—and not in a good way? If so, you're not alone; many people near and dear to me suffer from poor circulation, and fall and winter tend to bring out the worst of it. Constantly feeling cold, mentally sluggish, and lethargic—all side effects of poor circulation—can drain this time of year of joy and productivity. To reverse poor circulation, it can be helpful to understand why it occurs. There can be many reasons behind poor circulation, but a common pathology in Chinese medicine is referred to as Liver Qi stagnation. Qi (pronounced chee) is the invisible energy or lifeforce that makes everything function. All of your blood and lymph flow and metabolic processes are initiated by this invisible substance. Qi is found everywhere, not only in your body. It can be divided into Yin and Yang types—Yin Qi being the cooling, dark, wet, and heavy Qi, while Yang Qi is the fire or the heat. In the winter, the Yin Qi is on the earth's surface. This is exhibited in weather patterns; winter is much more cold, dark, and wet in comparison to the summer months. In the winter, the body has to rely on its own stored-up Yang Qi within to warm up. In Chinese medicine, the Liver is seen as the main force in the circulation of this Yang Qi. Therefore, if the Liver functions properly and moves the Qi proficiently, then the extremities will be as warm as the torso, if it doesn't then a resulting issue is cold hands and feet. Does this sound familiar? If so, maybe you should try a foot bath! Soaking the feet has been a key aspect of Chinese medicine for many, many years. In the ancient classic texts, soaking the feet was absolutely mandatory for those with cold extremities. It was said that the hot water improved the circulation of Blood and Qi throughout the body. In addition, different herbs were added to these baths, because the actions of the herbs were absorbed through the feet into the rest of the body. One simple combination I'll recommend here allows you to get started on your foot bath today with ingredients found in your own home or local grocery store.
What You'll Need
- Fresh root ginger
- Cinnamon sticks
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Epsom Salt
- Foot bath
What You'll Do
- First, find a large pail or bowl that allows you to soak your feet and a good part of your calves (there are many acupuncture points on the feet and lower limbs that will also benefit from the introduction of warmth).
- Next, heat up enough water for your foot bath on the stove. I like to also get my tea kettle going so that when the water cools I can freshen it up a little. While that's going, cut up a few slices of fresh ginger (about 1-inch piece), add 1 cinnamon stick and boil in a tiny saucepan with about a cup of water—like you were making a soup or a tea.
- When the water is ready, pour it into the foot bath adding the "ginger-cinnamon soup".
- Next, add 1/2 cup of Epsom salts and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to the mix. Make sure to check the water before putting your feet in! You should soak for at least 15-20 minutes, if you start to sweat then you know you've had enough. This is best done right before bed, as it is also calming to the mind.
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