HOW TO CHECK IF YOU’RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION?
I’m always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress. What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full blown experiment on my end. I truly wanted to see if this was working! And so I applied some learning from my Engineering background and took a stab at testing this theory. It’s not an exact science and was something fun to try!
One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory. In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other. Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states. Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping). Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).
One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.
Why is blood circulation important to TCM?
Blood is a vital substance that circulates the in the vessels and carries nutrition throughout the body. It is important in maintaining vital activities in the body, including nourishing and moisturizing it.
The circulation of blood relies on the pushing function of the qi. This is why it’s equally important to have strong qi. Blood and qi are like interconnected and interdependent. Qi is the motivating source for the circulation of blood.
The better your blood circulates:
- The more moisture and nourishments that travels to your organs, tissues, body, limbs, and mind continuously.
- The more distributed our qi is because blood is the carrier of qi. If our blood becomes collapsed and stagnant, so will our qi.
- The more vigorous and lively we are because blood also carries oxygen.
- The easier it is to stay warm (as body energy and warmth is generated from qi) and maintain good body function.
How to do a foot soak
The most basic is to simply soak your feet in warm water. What my own Chinese doctor has suggested is to soak it until you break a sweat from your forehead. At this point, you’ll know that the warm blood has worked it’s way up throughout your body enough to literally – break a sweat!
I was curious about testing time, so I’ve structured my foot soaks quite scientifically, but you don’t have to. You can just soak until you feel that sweat and finish up.
What you’ll need:
- A consistent source of hot (or warm) water
- A comfortable place to sit
- Some water (or drinks) to stay hydrated
- A book or something to occupy your time
- A towel (to dry off with afterwards)
- A change of clothes or sweater (as you’re sweating, you’ll want to cool off gently)
If you’re testing time, add in:
- A timer
Try foot soaks once a week! It’s a great time to meditate and spend some “ME” time.
Ever wonder why you do a hot foot soak before you get a foot massage (in most Chinese spas)?
Click on the video below to hear about how I turned this concept into more of a science experiment (for myself) and how I knew I was improving my blood circulation. A highly fascinating thing to try!
The teas and soups I drank to improve blood circulation
To improve blood circulation, there are a few soups or teas you can consider making to help you with this. Keep in mind, the key principles and things to note are:
- We want to encourage a more yang state in the body, which means more active and flowing
- To generate yang states, this is generally associated with consumption of warmer soups and teas (see below for the ones I was consuming)
- If you’re feeling too heaty (excess yang), you can hold off on the warming ingredients and go with the neutral ones for improve circulation (or reducing stagnant blood)
Warming ingredients to help with blood circulation:
- red (or blue) dates
- dried longans
- dried licorice
- dong quai (powerhouse warming right here!)
Neutral ingredients to help with blood circulation:
- dried wolfberries
- dried cinnamon twigs
- dried apricot kernals