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Caring for Feet with Chinese Medicine

Winter means many things, some of them not as positive as hot cocoa and holidays. Cold, dry weather can wreak havoc on the skin, and one place often requires special attention is a person's foot. Feet are often neglected when it comes to lotion and other skin care methods that the rest of the body daily receives. In winter, foot eczema is a common occurrence. Eczema is the result of extreme dry skin that forms into a scaly, red, often itchy rash.

Oriental herbs can effectively treat eczema and provide fast relief. Herbs that prove helpful for this condition include Flos Ionicerae (Japanese honeysuckle), Herba Mentae (peppermint), Cortex Moutan (root bark of a peony tree), Atractylodes Rhizome (the underground stem of the Atractylodes herb), and Cortex Phellodendri (Amur cork-tree bark). A licensed practitioner of Oriental medicine can prescribe and concoct a mixture of these five herbs, which can be taken orally (the extracts are placed into a pill capsule) once daily. The British Journal of Dermatology recently performed a study using this treatment and found that patients that received these herbs reported that their life improved by a third.

Bunions are another common foot problem that has a natural solution. A bunion is an inflammation found on a toe that can increase in size and hardness and be painful to the touch. Consistent pressure causes bunions; women are susceptible to bunions due to tight (but fashionable) footwear. Wearing shoes that are too short, high, or narrow can inflame the skin area and cause a bunion to form. Western medicine often just treats the symptom and not the source of the bunions - cortisone injections and ibuprofen are suggested for pain relief. Chinese medicine recommends treating the bunion internally with homeopathic silica to reduce inflammation and restore the body's balance. Also, drinking chamomile tea and then using the tea bag for external relief by placing it on the bunion can lessen swelling.

Athlete's foot is a highly contagious fungus that thrives in moist areas (heavy socks and shoes worn in winter can make a foot sweat and encourage this fungus). Chinese medicine encourages the use of tea tree oil to combat this irritation. Dilute the tee tree oil in water (50/50 or 25% oil will work), and soak feet in this mixture for five minutes twice a day and the fungus will disappear between one week and one month.

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