When trying to determine the status of their health, most people don't turn to their feet for indication. However, in some types of medicine, they are a body part that can give you some insight into how your body is doing. When it comes to what your feet can say about your health, Eastern Medicine suggests there are a number of things you can find out, so it might be time to take a closer look at what's going down by those toes.
"Many meridians or pathways of the body either begin or end in the feet," Dr. Elizabeth Trattner tells Bustle. "In Chinese Medicine, they correspond to the hands, and many important points we use in treatment are on the feet or near the ankle. Most people in the West ignore the importance of their feet, unlike their hands. Our feet carry us through the world and are an integral part of Chinese Medicine."
The feet in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine contain multiple acupressure and reflexology points all connected to different organ systems and meridians. In these types of Eastern medicine, all body parts are connected. In Chinese Medicine, meridians are the pathways that form your body. There are twelve major meridians that run on each side of the body, one side mirroring the other, and each meridian corresponds to an internal organ. Chi is the energy or life force that runs through these meridians. It would make sense that in these types of medicine, the feet are crucial to overall health.
Here are seven things your feet reveal about your health, according to Eastern Medicine.
A Wound That Doesn't Heal Can Mean Digestive Issues
Digestive issues can show in your feet. "If your foot wounds don’t heal up, it is a way of letting you know that your digestion (or Spleen chi) isn’t working," says Dr. Trattner. "When the nutritive aspect of the body is depleted (blood from nutrition of the digestive system), your feet will be dry and calloused." Speak with your doctor of a TCM practitioner to help correct this issue.
Athlete's Foot Can Mean Your Diet Is Off
Athlete’s foot and onychomycosis (nails that turn yellow, split and thicken) are a sign off dampness, according to Dr. Trattner. "In Western Medicine, these conditions are caused by a fungus, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we call it dampness," she says. "Dampness is usually caused by too much sugar, fried greasy food, and refined food." Try incorporating other foods into your diet, and this may help in correcting the problem.
Foot Cramps Can Mean A Deficiency
"If you are getting foot cramps, it may be a sign of a blood deficiency (mineral deficiency) or blood stagnation," says Dr. Trattner. "Blood stasis usually involves more pain, and blood deficiency presents with more cramps and achiness." Again, your doctor or a TCM practitioner can help you address the best solution for this issue if it arises.
Pain At The Bottom Of The Foot Could Mean Kidney Problems
"If there’s pain in the bottom of the foot, there’s stagnation in the kidney," Dr. Vincent Caruso, Jr., D.C. tells Bustle. In TCM, plantar fasciitis is considered to be a manifestation of the tight back fascia, which is a manifestation of kidney deficiency. The Kidney Meridian starts from the small toe, proceeds through the arch of the foot, and then flows upwards throughout the rest of the body, so pain in this area could indicate a kidney issue. If the pain is persistent and you are concerned, a visit to your doctor can paint a better picture of the issue, as well as possible solutions.
Pain On Top Of The Food Could Mean Liver Or Stomach Issue
On the flip side, if there’s pain in the top of the foot, this could mean stagnation in the liver or stomach, says Dr. Caruso. Dry and brittle nails can also indicate liver issues. According to TCM, liver blood is responsible for nourishing and moistening the nails.
Dry Heels Could Mean A Problem With Fluid Balance
If your dry feet aren't responding to lotion, it may be a fluid imbalance. "If the heels are dry, the TCM conclusion is that the body isn’t balancing out fluids properly, and that there’s bladder or kidney energetic dysfunction," says Dr. Caruso.
We may tend to ignore our feet, but paying attention to them can help you learn more about your health, as well as guide you when to take action and speak with your doctor.