Health + Wellness for Kids: Herbal Foot Baths
Emma from 95 Acres of Sky is with us to share wonderful tips for taking some time and nurturing the little ones in our lives with soothing foot baths.
In our family herbal medicine is pretty much our first line of defense when it comes to our health. After the food we eat (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure), herbs are our best allies in maintaining health or avoiding illness. It’s ironic then, that during the summer when the herbs are growing, I often find it difficult to include them in our diet.
Not all herbs are massively tasty to children and it does seem that the more health enhancing the herb, the more difficult the flavor. While I can hide a tincture in a smoothie with the best of them, there are times when more is needed. During the winter months I can usually coerce my children into drinking a hot cup of tea by the fire, or lace a warm bath with a drop or two of essential oils, or even hide healthy herbs in a slow cooked stew. But during the summer, with all the busyness and activity it brings with it, it can be hard to find ways to use the healing power of herbs.
Though ingesting herbs is the most powerful way of taking them into our bodies, another great way is through the skin. During the summer, though, hot baths are definitely out; but there is an alternative that is refreshing, soothing and easy for kids to enjoy. Foot baths.
It may seem ridiculously simple, but a foot bath really can soothe and restore like nothing else. They are easy to make and rare is the child that does not enjoy popping their feet in warm water. It is also an easier way of introducing herbs that would not be suitable for a full bath immersion. Peppermint or other menthol herbs are a great example of this; while the tingling, refreshing sensation is lovely on the feet it is not to be recommended on the whole body. Ask me how I know. Ahem.
Summer is the perfect time to embrace the outdoors, enjoy fun and full body activities and generally bask in the lack of winter for as long as possible, but this doesn’t mean illness won’t crop up. Aside from summer colds or the occasional virus, summer itself can create health problems. Upset tummies from too much ice cream, exhaustion from dashing from one activity to another, overheated by the humid weather or full of cold after spending a fun filled day with friends who passed on an illness. Herbs can help support health and recovery and can be easily absorbed through the skin.
To make a foot bath you will simply need a container big enough for your child’s feet, warm water, a towel, the herbs of your choice and a little time. I like to really take advantage of the herb’s medicinal properties by steeping it first in boiling water, then adding it to warm but not overly hot water in the foot bath itself. This allows the cell walls in the plant to break down, releasing it’s magic into the water. Another way to do this would be to brew a herbal tea using a tea bag, then add to the foot bath. You need no more than 2 tablespoons of dried herb per bath, you can use about double this if the herb is fresh.
As well as supporting the immune system and other bodily functions, this small ritual is a time for slowing down, for taking a peaceful moment to relax. It would certainly be a lovely time for the grown up doing all the work to rest along side their child! Though it’s wonderful to embrace all that summer has to offer, it can be equally wonderful to take a break, look after our health and well being, pause together and rest.
Here are some of the lovely herbs you might want to try:
Mint – for digestive ailments, for over heating and for headaches; lovely as a cool down after a hot day.
Chamomile – for temperatures, congestion, crankiness or poor sleep.
Lavender – for tension or stress, great to soothe headaches and improves sleep or anxiety issues.
Elderberry – for those horrid summer colds, coughs or fevers.
Catnip – a great restorative for those struggling with exhaustion, perfect for just before bed as it is a wonderful sleep tonic.
Rose – for headaches, exhaustion and anxiety.
Lemon Balm – refreshing, soothing and calming; a balm to the body and soul.
All of these herbs are easily available, you may well even have some in your own garden! Including even one herbal ally this summer will, hopefully, improve not only the health of your family, but your sense of well being and calm. Such is the magic of herbs.