Ever since the late second trimester of my pregnancy with Tessa (over two years ago now!), there has been an epic and ongoing battle between me and my feet.
With Tessa, I came down with a bad case of edema. The only way I can really describe the way my feet and ankles swelled up is: John Travolta in drag in the movie Hairspray. Yeah, that’s the best I can do.
So anyway, there I was, waddling around on overstuffed sausage feet with no discernible ankle to speak of, and none of my shoes would fit. At all. I couldn’t squeeze a single pair on. So I had to buy some stretchy slippers with hard soles as makeshift shoes. I bought two pairs and wore them from around Week 28 to delivery (and even a couple of weeks post pregnancy). But mostly, I just went barefoot whenever possible.
Which resulted in some horribly cracked heels and dry, icky feet. I am STILL in the process of fixing my feet that bear the battle scars of perpetual barefootedness. I am slowly winning this war I have declared on my cracked heels, and one of the biggest tools that I have found is foot soaks! I am having fun mixing up soaks with some of my favorite ingredients, so you guys KNEW it was only a matter of time before I made a red clover soak, hehe!
How to Make
1 Gallon of Filtered Water
4 Tea Bags of Red Clover
1 Cup of Epsom Salts
5-10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
Bring your filtered water to a boil, and then steep the Red Clover tea bags in the water for 5 minutes. Add the Epsom Salts and Lavender Essential Oil, stirring till dissolved. When cool enough, immerse your feet in the soak for 20 to 30 minutes, then use a pumice stone to work away the dry areas. Cover your feet in foot lotion and put socks on to lock in the moisture. Simple, relaxing and easy!
Why These Ingredients
Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, epsom salt has numerous health benefits.
Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making epsom salt baths and foot soaks an easy and ideal way to enjoy the health benefits. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and helping to prevent artery hardening. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. The sulfates in the epsom salt also help improve the absorption of nutrients and help flush toxins from the body.
Herbal infusions have been used for centuries long before the advent of over the counter skin products, and have been the go-to method since the dawn of time to naturally keep skin beautiful, healthy and glowing.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is a wild, leguminous, perennial herb that is native to the meadows of Europe, Western Asia and Africa, and has now been naturalized here in the US of A. The entire plant, from the sweet tasting, tiny pink flowers to the leafy greens are edible and can be used to make sweet herbal tea for botanical rinses and therapeutic purposes.
Red Clover is a natural anti-inflammatory, and traditionally, red clover ointments have been applied to the skin to treat psoriasis, eczema, and other rashes. It is a storehouse of many vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, such as calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C.
When steeped to make a tea or herbal infusion, Red Clover is rich in isoflavones. Red Clover is considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones, which are water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens (known collectively as phytoestrogens). These isoflavones work to make skin soft and help prevent skin irritations and inflammation. Red Clover also just smells GREAT!
Lavender Essential Oil
This ingredient is mostly thrown in for the pleasant smell (it pairs really well with Red Clover), but it hosts it’s own benefits for cleansing, beautifying skin and aromatherapy!
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing. According to dermatologists and aromatherapists, lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial oils in the treatment of acne.
Lavender Essential Oil inhibits the bacteria that cause the initial infection, helps to regulate some of the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal manipulation, and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal.
As for aromatherapy benefits, Lavender is an adaptogen, and therefore can assist the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It is a great aid for relaxing and winding down before bedtime, yet has balancing properties that can also boost stamina and energy.
The soak softened my feet enough to remove a good layer of dead skin, and my feet have a decidedly tingly feeling, even hours after the soak. I’m planning on doing a weekly soak, and moisturizing nightly till I get my feet back to presentable shape. This battle is almost won!! ^_^