The best thing about foot pampering is that you don’t need to go to a fancy spa or spend a lot of money to treat your feet; it’s easy to do at home. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to prepare soothing and relaxing foot soaks and how to make your own foot lotions, scrubs, and sprays using essential oils.
One of the simplest things you can do to treat your aching feet is to soak them in a basin of warm water at the end of the day (or anytime you need relief). Foot soaks not only feel great; they can be very therapeutic. Soaking in warm water warms and re- laxes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue, as well as increases circulation to the feet.
Cold soaks are also very beneficial to your feet because they increase circulation and reduce swelling. Cold soaks are best for inflammation or after strenuous activities like hiking, running, or other sports that might cause the feet to swell.
For maximum foot pampering, follow your foot soak with an exfoliating foot scrub and a self-massage with essential-oil foot lotion or cream
Health note: Diabetics should not soak their feet.
All you really need for a good foot soak is water and a foot spa basin, but there are a few ingredients that you’ll want to have around the house so that you’re always prepared to whip up a little basin of relaxation.
- Small pebbles or marbles. These can be added to the bottom of the basin. As you soak, you can rub your feet against them for a mini-massage.
- Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). Good for soothing the feet and conditioning the
- Epsom salt. Used in Chinese medicine to help draw toxins out of the feet, Epsom salt soothes the skin and helps restore tired Dead Sea salt is full of minerals that are absorbed by your feet while they soak.
- Essential oils and herbs. These substances have a variety of medicinal properties (antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory) that can enhance a foot soak’s therapeutic benefits, which might include: reducing inflammation; relieving pain, sore, aching, cramping muscles; softening and conditioning skin, and increasing circular- While oils in a foot soak soothe your feet, their fragrance is also therapeutic and can be calming or stimulating, depending on which oils you use.
The five oils you’ll use most are lavender, peppermint, rosemary, geranium, and tea tree. You might also like to have eucalyptus, cypress, sage, chamomile, and lemon. Use only therapeutic-grade oils.
You might also want to keep these dried herbs around peppermint, lavender, and chamomile. And a few cotton muslin tea bags.
Essential oils are highly concentrated natural substances extracted by steam distillation, or by other methods, from plant leaves, flowers, roots, and seeds. Throughout history, ancient cultures in Egypt, India, China, Rome, and Greece used aromatic oils for therapeutic and medicinal practices, in religious ceremonies, cosmetic and perfume products, as well as for bathing.
Today the use of essential oils and the practice of aromatherapy are common around the world. There are two primary ways in which essential oils interact with the body: through inhalation or through absorption by the skin. Both methods can produce emotional and physical changes in the body.
For example, lavender is widely known for its calming properties, even if it’s simply inhaled. Peppermint is often used in massage to soothe aching limbs.
Adding essential oils (and mineral salt) to a foot bath is doubly therapeutic because you can inhale the calming (or stimulating, depending on which oil is used) aroma of the oil, and at the same time, your feet will absorb oil molecules and minerals from the salt. (Because warm water increases circulation in the feet, essential oils are absorbed better in warm soaks than in cold soaks.)
Aromatherapy is no simple science. Essential oils are complex structures with many benefits, and even some harmful, properties. Always follow the instructions that come with the essential oils you buy, and always use therapeutic-grade oils sold by a knowledgeable dealer who can instruct you in their uses.
The ten essential oils listed below are commonly used substances that are easy to find in most herbal shops. I’ve listed only a few of the general properties and uses for each oil, concentrating mostly on uses related to foot care.
If you want to use any of these oils for purposes other than those listed in the foot soaks, sprays, and potions sections of this post, consult your doctor and a certified aromatherapist to get a diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific condition.
|Essential Oil||Properties and Uses|
|Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)||Refreshing, deodorant. Used in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to soothe muscle cramps and rheumatism, relieve symptoms of menstrual and menopausal problems, and calm nervous tension. Also used for sweaty feet, and to treat some respiratory conditions.|
|Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)||Stimulating, decongestant, deodorantUsed in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to soothe arthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, and sprains. Also used to treat some skin problems and some respiratory conditions.|
|Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)||Stimulating, antidepressant. Used in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to reduce nervous tension, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and other stress-related conditions. Increases circulation, good for dry skin.|
|Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)||Calming, soothing, antidepressant. Used in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to soothe muscle aches and pains, cramps, sprains, and rheumatic conditions. Also used for many skin conditions, and for depression, insomnia, PMS, and nervous tension.|
|Lemon (Citrus limon)||Refreshing. Used in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to reduce anxiety and nervous tension, and as an astringent for the skin.
Warning: Lemon increases your risk of sunburn if left on the skin. Wait six hours before exposing skin to sun) or cover skin where lotion was applied.
|Peppermint (Mentha piperita)||Invigorating. Used in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to increase alertness, soothe muscle aches and pains, reduce inflammation, relieve headaches, and reduce fatigue.
Also used for some skin conditions and to treat some respiratory conditions.
|Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)||Calming. Used in massage oils/lotions, and in foot soaks, to reduce anxiety, PMS, insomnia, nervous tension, and stress headaches. Also used in lotion for dry skin.|
|Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)||Stimulating. Used in massage oils/ lotions and in foot soaks to increase circulation; reduce painful, aching joints and gout; soothe muscle pain; relieve headaches, mental fatigue, nervous exhaustion, and stress. Also used to treat some respiratory and skin problems.|
|Sage (Salvia officinalis)|| Astringent, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal. Used in massage oils/lotions and in foot soaks to relieve pain from arthritis, rheumatism, and sprains. Also used to treat sweaty, smelly feet.
Warning: Sage is a powerful substance that) if overused) could be harmful. Use with care; don’t use it more than three times a week.
|Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
|Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antifungal. Used in massage oils/ lotions and in foot soaks to treat a variety of skin conditions, including bacterial and fungal infections (athlete’s foot), viral infections (warts), and smelly feet. Also used to treat some respiratory conditions.|
|Carrier oils||Just a few drops of essential oil go a long way. They should always be diluted in a carrier oil, or, in the case of foot baths, in water.
A few of the common carrier oils are sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil.
A general rule is 1-4 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil (or lotion). It’s always best to start with a few drops, adding one drop at a time. More equals better does not apply here. Here are a few general dilution guidelines for different products:
|Soaks||5-6 drops in a basin containing 2 or more gallons of water|
|Lotions||5-6 drops per ounce of lotion|
|Scrubs ||5-6 drops per ounce of carrier oil 5-6 drops per ounce of water|
|Sprays||5-6 drops per ounce of water|
Health Notes: If you are pregnant, taking prescription medications (or herbs or homoeopathic remedies), or have diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease high blood pressure, or other medical conditions, consult with your doctor before using essential oils or any of the recipes in this book. You should also talk to a certified aromatherapist, who can tell you which essential oils might aggravate (or benefit) your specific health problem.
Some people are very sensitive to these substances, so if you develop a skin rash or have any unpleasant reactions to the oils, see your doctor.
Safety, Storage, and Mixing Tips
- Essential oils should not be used undiluted on the skin. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil. It is safe to add a few drops of essential oil to a foot spritzer or foot bath because the water serves as a In some cases, lavender oil and tea tree oil can be applied directly to the skin in very small amounts (do not apply both oils at the same time).
- Never use essential oils internally, near the eyes, or on mucous membranes (i.e., inside the mouth or nose). Follow the instructions and warnings that come with the oils. Keep out of children’s reach. Do not use essential oils on children unless directed by your
- Skin-test oils by diluting a small amount and applying it to the skin. If your skin becomes red or itchy, do not use that
- Essential oils should be stored in dark-coloured glass bottles. Make sure that the bottles are sealed tightly and stored in a cool, dark place (a wooden cabinet is ideal).
- For best results, use only therapeutic-grade oils distributed by reputable companies. Read up on essential oils before using them, and ask a certified aromatherapist for some basic If you prefer not to invest in several bottles of oil, you can ask your aromatherapist to mix the potions for you.
- When mixing oils, use essential oils You will gain therapeutic benefits from just a few drops. It’s best to start off with one or two drops, adding one drop at a time so that you can test the mixture. Essential oils are very strong; a little goes a long way.