TCM explained 4.

Foot pads

In TCM explained 4. a focus on foot pads and brewing TCM special teas.
From a Chinese friend I received many boxes with foot pads and I do use sometimes, see pics.
I see many advertisements on media claiming foot pads can make you lose weight, remove toxins, and more. See one example on Amazon.

Do Detox Foot Pads Work?
The theory behind the pads is that when placed on the bottom of the feet, they absorb toxins, heavy metals, metabolic wastes, parasites, and even cellulite from your body as you sleep. By morning, the once white foot pads would appear darkened, which would supposedly signify that the pads had leached toxins from your body overnight.
Some companies selling the detox foot pads even claim these pads could treat a host of medical problems, including high blood pressure. They claim the pads could make your headaches, depression, and insomnia go away, and that they could even help you lose weight.
However there is no scientific data showing that detox foot masks have any true effect on the body.
So, detox foot pads are just a hoax.
And also explained in USA TODAY
“Cleansing foot pads do not remove toxins from your body, experts say – the foot is not a detoxifying organ.”

My teas

I weekly brew some teas, here one example. Ingredients: He Shou Wu, Luomozi (the fruits or the twigs) and pine needles.

What is Luomozi?
Metaplexis japonica, commonly known as rough potato, is a twining vine. Pale purple to white, star-shaped, 5-petaled flowers bloom from late June to August. Flowers are followed by elliptic seed pods which split open vertically when ripe to release numerous silky-haired seeds (reminiscent of milkweed) which are easily carried by wind to other locations.
The vine grows with unbelievable speed… as every year on my balcony. See the pics.
Parts used for medical purpose: whole plant, roots, fruits.
Earlier I brewed only the twigs, as pictured. This tea uses the fruits.

He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti) is the prepared tuberous root of Polygonum multiflorum, a plant that grows in the mountains of central and southern China.
It is a herbal remedy used to promote healthy aging and treat conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The plant sterols in it are called a “miracle cure” for prostate problems. It appears to absorb DHT at a rate no other plant sterol can compare with.
The top toxin is DHT or dihydrotestosterone. DHT is also known as androstanolone or stanolone,  an endogenous androgen sex steroid and hormone. DHT plays a beneficial role in the developing prostate but it can be detrimental in the adult prostate in that it causes pathologic prostate growth.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition in which the prostate grows and pushes against the urethra and the bladder blocking the flow of urine.
Before I used it in powder, now the roots directly.

Pine needle tea has a pleasant taste and smell. It is rich in vitamin C (5 times the concentration of vitamin C found in lemons) and can bring relief to conditions such as heart disease, varicose veins, skin complaints and fatigue.

How to brew? I use an electric water heater that has several operation settings, One is to brew TCM teas, taking several hours. Once done, I take out the herbs and keep the tea in several small bottles, in the fridge.

TCM explained 3.

Aromatherapy history and theories

In TCM explained 3. a focus on aromatherapy, what it is, its effectiveness, the different forms and implications for your health.
Do not misunderstand, I actually often use TCM, especially special home-made teas that I drink on a daily basis. But some aspects of TCM are rather doubtful in its effectiveness.

Aromatherapy is based on the usage of aromatic materials, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds, with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. It is offered as a complementary therapy or as a form of alternative medicine.
The act of burning incense has been an important ritual since ancient times. Believed to have originated in Egypt in the time of the Old Kingdom, it was once used by priests for fumigating tombs. Incense has a long history of being used in conjunction with ceremonies, rituals, and spiritual and religious occasions.
Incense burning was also discovered in India and Southern Asia as early as 3300 BC. Used alongside worship and prayer, it was believed that burning incense could ward off evil spirits while purifying the surroundings.

I remember assisting mass when I was young and the incense burner going around.

Aromatherapists, people who specialize in the practice of aromatherapy, utilize blends of supposedly therapeutic essential oils that can be used as topical application, massage, inhalation or water immersion. There is no good medical evidence that aromatherapy can either prevent, treat, or cure any disease.
The point of aromatherapy is the smell of the products. There is disputed evidence that it may be effective in combating postoperative nausea and vomiting.
Now more about different forms of aromatherapy.

Incense sticks, cones and essential oils

Incense sticks are some of the most typical aromatherapy products. They are used to fill a room with sweet and aromatic scents, calming the mind and body, and more.

The Health Risks from Incense Burning are however serious: Harmful Constituents in the Incense Smoke – a scientific paper.
Yes, burning incense and cones is bad for you.
According to the EPA, exposure to the particulate matter (PM2.5 in particular) present in incense smoke has been linked to asthma, lung inflammation and even cancer. In fact, long-term exposure to incense smoke was found to be related to an increased risk for upper respiratory cancers as well as squamous cell lung cancer.
The findings, published in Environmental Chemistry Letters, showed that incense smoke is mutagenic, which means it can cause mutations to genetic material, primarily DNA. Compared to the cigarette smoke, the incense products were found to be more cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and genotoxic (toxic to DNA)

See a variety of incense sticks and cones; also essential oil diffusors, electric or using a candle, pleasant smell and not polluting.
The pollution measurement I did shows how bad the incense sticks are… and the particles hang in the air for a very long time!
Incense cones appear to be even more problematic for air pollution compared to incense sticks.

Fragrance sticks

Fragrance sticks are absorbent sticks which have been placed in a jar of fragrance oil. The stick draws up the oils and their scent evaporates into the room.
Reed diffusers are safer and healthier than many types of scented products. Reed diffusers, quite simply, do not make use of flame. This is not only safer, as it means that reed diffusers do not pose a fire risk.

I don’t like that one can find the complete sets but never the replacement liquid. So, sticks and container can only be used once and then thrown away.

TCM explained 2.


TCM explained 2. A look at moxibustion, a well-known TCM treatment. See how it is mostly used. But does it work? Is it safe? Debunking some myths.

One can find details here and here.

Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body. It plays an important role in the traditional medical systems of China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Mongolia. Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff; practitioners burn the fluff or process it further into a cigar-shaped stick. They can use it indirectly, with acupuncture needles, or burn it on the patient’s skin.
Generally speaking mugwort is used. See the earlier article.

How it is used

A practitioner burns the herb “moxa” on or above the skin to warm and stimulate specific points on the body. Practitioners use moxibustion either as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with acupuncture.
The “cigars” are lit, they can be used directly or inserted in a copper device, see here what I found at home:

There are also pouches that can be affixed to certain parts of the body, with smaller tablets that are inserted after letting them burn.


Needless to say, as it is normally done inside a room, the smoke is very polluting.
Exposure to the particulate matter (PM2.5 in particular) present in the smoke has been linked to asthma, lung inflammation and even cancer. In fact, long-term exposure to incense and moxibustion smoke was found to be related to an increased risk for upper respiratory cancers as well as squamous cell lung cancer.
Not recommended anyway in your home…

Does it work?

In traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion aims to stimulate the body’s flow of vital energy or “qi” and remove toxins.
Western practitioners may use moxibustion to help alleviate pain and inflammation from various ailments. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.
Although moxibustion is often used as asymptomatic treatment for a wide range of conditions in clinical practice, e.g., arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, gynecological complaints and stroke rehabilitation, its clinical effectiveness remains uncertain, and many experts doubt its biological plausibility.
So, I am not that convinced. But the heath of the application can maybe alleviate some pain… and make you feel better.

Electric Moxa Device Red Light Therapy

This uses infrared light, with “moxa disks” of mugwort, with a special machine, see pics of advertised machines available world-wide. See the machine I sometimes use (see the moxa disks, the oil, where to insert the disks).
You can control temperature and timing.

When I  use the machine I apply the “massage oil” on the treated body part. Effective? I don’t know, but at least it’s very comfortable and does not produce smoke!

TCM explained 1.

Mugwort it is

In “TCM explained 1”  (or should I say debunked…) let’s look at Chinese foot bath.
There are different kinds of the artemisia plant.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) and mugwort both belong to the artemisia family. Even when it comes to mugwort, there are different kinds, such as artemisia vulgaris and artemisia argyii. Artemisia argyii is specifically growing in the northern temperate zones of Asia. It is the one which we use in China. Wormwood is seldom used in China.
Artemisia argyii, commonly known as silvery wormwood or Chinese mugwort, is a herbaceous perennial plant. It is known in Chinese as àicǎo (艾草) or àiyè (艾叶).
The edible plant mugwort can be confused with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Examination of the leaves is how to tell the difference. Mugwort leaves are green on the top and white underneath, and they have pointed tips and purplish stems, while wormwood leaves have a silvery top and bottom and the flowers are more showy.
It can warm the meridians, stop bleeding, disperse cold and stop pain.

See here my foot bath at home:

Artemisia argyii is used in moxibustion and can also be used in food bath.
In China for moxibustion and foot bath we exclusively use Artemisia argyii. More about moxibustion in another post, coming soon.
All kinds of plants might be used in foot baths but not wormwood.

Singapore shop Kin Teck Tong puts it correctly

Kin Teck Tong
Chinese Mugwort, also known as Artemisia Argyii, has been used for centuries in TCM treatments (Moxibustion) and in food due to its medicinal properties. Chinese Mugwort is known for its numerous benefits and highly recommended by physicians for properties such as dispelling dampness, stimulating blood circulation and enhancing women’s health.
Other common uses for Mugwort include treating cold hands and feet, gingivitis, intestinal problems such as constipation, chills, and insomnia.
Mugwort Foot Bath: Singapore’s humid weather all year round can result in high level of moisture in the air. As such, dampness accumulates in the body and causes symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, swelling, poor appetite, joint pain, irritable skin and so on. Using Mugwort Foot Bath, body can be reconditioned, and dampness will be dispelled at the same time, alleviating any symptoms caused by the excessive damp.

Many Internet shops and articles are wrong

Google search makes it confusing as one finds often “Moxa Mugwort Herb Wormwood Dried Leaves Cake Foot Bath” and “Moxa Mugwort Cake Chinese Herb Wormwood Foot Bath Soak SPA Chinese Medicine Health Care Massage”.

See a sample of online sale here. The foot bath is said to:
Remove toxins, soften blood vessels, promoting blood circulation.
Relieve fatigue, promote the blood running, have strong immunity.
Instant and long-term relief: cracking, itching, burning, caused by toe/skin fungus
Cures most jock itch and ringworm. Antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties to deodorize.
Reduces inflammation, pain, and itching. Softens corns, calluses & rough heels.
Relieving foot fatigue, detumescence and acesodyne, promoting sleeping.
Enhance Immunity. Expand blood vessel, reduce the blood pressure.

In the above change wormwood to mugwort!

And here another one: Wormwood foot bath
It is wrong – change wormwood to mugwort to be correct in the following text:
Wormwood has anti-inflammatory, relieving cough and asthma, dispelling cold and dampness, anti-allergic and hemostasis effects. Many people are accustomed to soaking their feet in hot water with wormwood.
What are the benefits of hot water foot bath with wormwood?
Foot soaking can relieve fatigue and improve sleep quality. When it comes to foot soaking, wormwood is the “golden partner”.
Soaking feet in hot water can promote local blood supply and help to expel dampness and cold in the body; coupled with wormwood, it can open up the twelve meridians and regulate the balance of yin and yang. If the meridians are unobstructed, the qi and blood are also unblocked.
The main symptoms of strong cold or false fire are sore throat, stomatitis and oral ulcers. You might as well boil the wormwood in a pot, take out the liquid and soak your feet until the whole body sweats.
Wormwood can have antiviral and antibacterial effects, and at the same time can enhance resistance, insisting on soaking feet in hot water with wormwood can treat athlete’s foot and athlete’s foot.