Foot Health-Pain

Kidney Yang Deficiency and Cold Feetancestor-treasure.jpg

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), hypothyroidism is an indication of Kidney Yang Deficiency most commonly resulting in feet that can’t get warm. Kidney Deficiency becomes more common as we age and can also cause hair loss, fatigue, unexplained weight gain, and depression

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Related Article:How Chinese medicine addresses hypothyroidism

Spleen-Kidney Deficiency Leading to Gout and Big Sore Toe

In Chinese medicine gout is the result of chronic deficiencies that develop over a long period of time; this is hard to conceptualize at first because the nature of gout pain is to come on suddenly just like acute conditions. This is because the resulting uric acid build up in joints happens only after the organs have deteriorated to the point where they cannot properly eliminate a substance that is typically discarded through our urine.

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The sudden onset of a red, hot, swollen, and painful joint may indicate gout, but could also be something more serious; inflammatory arthritis, infection, or trauma would require immediate medical attention. Gout often begins with sharp pain and inflammation in the big right toe, but as it becomes chronic it will spread to other joints. Typically, herbs that help to speed the elimination of gout are used initially while tonic herbs address deeper metabolic level imbalances.

Related Article: How to address gout with Chinese herbs

Liver Imbalances and Drawing Up of Toes

The Wood Element which includes the Liver in TCM governs over the tendons. If chronic Liver constraints are allowed to continue unchecked, Liver Yin Deficiency and Liver Blood Deficiency will occur and the tendons will not be nourished. This drying of the tendons is evident by toes in middle aged and the elderly that appear to be tightening and drawing up. 

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Blood Stagnation and Numbness of the Feet

In Chinese medicine, numbness would be an indication of Blood Stagnation. In western medicine, numbness in both feet is known as peripheral neuropathy, caused most commonly by diabetes, chronic alcoholism, or a side effect of chemotherapy.  Blood moving herbs help to “quicken the Blood” and break up Blood Stagnation thus improving circulation.

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Blood and Qi Stagnation Leading to Numbness in Just One Foot

If you're experiencing neuroma, or numbness in only one foot, it could be due to a pinched nerve in the foot, ankle or back. Chinese medicine often addresses pinched nerves utilizing acupuncture and Chinese herbs that break up Blood and Qi Stagnation along the acupuncture channels.

Spleen Qi Deficiency Causing Bunions

In TCM, bunions are caused by turbid Phlegm accumulations from long-standing Internal Dampness caused by Spleen Qi Deficiency. Two of the most significant Spleen acupuncture points, Spleen 2 and Spleen 3 sit atop the area where bunions form, further indicated Spleen imbalances. Many people have a genetic disposition to Spleen issues, or they can develop through poor diet and lifestyle habits. While a fully formed bunion may require surgery to remove it, a bunion is a sign that the Spleen energetic system needs to be tonified and nourished before more serious disease patterns develop, or to keep more bunions from developing.

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Internal Dampness Causing Fungal infection


Fungus depend on the correct environment to develop, and cannot thrive without Dampness; this is true on a log out in the woods, and it is true on and in your body. Applying anti-fungal cream and keeping your feet and socks dry will usually result in temporary relief from athlete’s foot and toenail fungal infections, but will typically return if the Internal Dampness is not resolved.

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Spleen Qi Deficiency- Blood Stagnation Causing Wounds to Heal Slowly

Sores that will not heal up over weeks and months on feet can be serious signs of diseases that should be checked out by your MD such as diabetes and skin cancer. Even with such serious disease patterns, herbal therapy can be utilized to speed healing, increase circulation, and promote tissue repair.

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Kidney Yin Deficiency Causing Cramping

While some see leg and foot cramps as a sign of dehydration, drinking water alone may not clear this aggravating pain. This is because Yin Deficiency indicates chronic dryness and requires Yin tonic herbs to correct generally. Foot and leg cramps could also indicate poor nutritional habits leading to potassium, magnesium, and calcium deficiencies. With chronic cramping you should consult with your MD as they can be a sign of circulation issues or even nerve damage.

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Lung-Heart Imbalances Causing Hairless Feet and Toes

In western medicine, hairless feet may simply indicate poor Blood circulation, but it is a lot more complicated according to Chinese medicine.  In Chinese medicine, the Lung energetic organ is part of the Metal Element and governs over the skin and body hair. The Heart is responsible for circulating Blood in both western and eastern medicine, but in TCM, the Lung and Heart are VERY closely related due to Zhong Qi (a concept that is Way too complicated for this venue). In any case, you may see patterns of Lung Deficiency in those who also have hairless toes and poor circulation.