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Foot Pharmacy - How, when and why to Use Essential Oils on your Feet

You may have heard about using essential oils on the feet. A lot of the information out there is right on target, but sometimes people get carried away and try to use one method for all ills. (Read, The Many Methods of Aromatherapy to learn about other essential oil applications as well as how essential oils should be diluted, when dilution is recommended.) Here I will help you separate foot fact from foot fiction. 

A big controversy in Aromatherapy is whether or not essential oils get absorbed by the feet or not. The skin on feet is thick, and although the pores on the feet are large, they are sweat pores, thus for toxins to flow out. Another debated point is whether or not to apply essential oils undiluted directly to the bottom of the foot or to add a carrier oil as must be done on all other areas of the skin to avoid burning and sensitivity. 

My point of view is that a small percentage of essential oils can get absorbed through the feet and up through the legs to aid the bottom half of the body. Why do I think this? Because I can feel the effect in my legs from many oils. This is strongest with the very cool oils like peppermint and eucalyptus. If you try putting just one drop on each foot and rubbing your feet together to spread the oil throughout the bottom of your foot; you will feel a strong cool sensation going all the way up your legs. If I do this with carrot seed oil, I feel a warmer energy going up my legs. Now, since the absorption level is low, and the skin is thick, this is why an adult can use a drop or two of essential oils directly on the bottom of feet undiluted. 

Applying to the feet is an excellent method when treating the feet and legs: You can use one of the recommended oils or make a mix.

Restless Leg Syndrome: If pain has already started, click here for a recipe to apply to the affected areas as well as your feet. This one is diluted since it will be used on areas other than the bottom of the foot. I have also found that applying grounding oils (such as vetiver, cedarwood, angelica root and others) to the bottom of my feet during the day keep the pain from starting in the first place. 

Sweaty Feet: Essential oils that can help control excessive sweat are: geranium, cypress, citronella &, lemongrass. Use a drop or two on each foot and rub your feet together to spread over the bottom of your feet. You can also make a foot mist using one half water and one half witch hazel as the base.

Swollen Feet: For this you should dilute your essential oils in a fixed oil since it will be applied to the swollen part of the foot, as well as the bottom of your feet. Some essential oils recommended for reducing swelling are: German & Roman Chamomile, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Fennel Seed, Geranium, Cypress, Grapefruit, Carrot Seed, and Rosemary. 


Foot Fungus: Fungus should be nipped in the bud right way before it spreads. The best known essential oil for fighting foot fungus is Teatree. Some others are: Lemongrass, Patchouli, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Myrrh. Coconut oil is a good base for dilution as it also has anti-fungal properties. Or you can make a mist using 1/2 water and 1/2 witch hazel as the base. 


Injuries of the foot: Click here to read about essential oils I used to heal an injury. See more about swelling above. For healing bruising these essential oils are helpful: Geranium, Hyssop, Sweet Marjoram, Lavender and Thyme. For healing ligaments and connective tissue these essential oils are recommended: Lemongrass and Helichrysum. Dilute the essential oils in a fixed oil when applying to areas other than the bottom of the foot.


Deodorizing the feet: Great Essential oils to deodorize and kill the bacteria that causes odor are: Lemongrass, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Teatree, Geranium,  Thyme and Lavender. You can apply deodorizing oils to the bottom of your feet or make a mist with 1/2 water and 1/2 witch oil as the base.


Helping feet feel Cooler: If your feet get really hot you might want to try applying some peppermint and/or spearmint oil directly to the bottom of your feet. Other good cooling oils are: Basil, Rosemary and Eucalyptus, You can also make a cooling mist to spray on your feet. 


Gout: Gout is an inflammatory arthritic condition that causes pain or swelling primarily in the big toe, but sometimes in the ankle or knee. Dilute the essential oils in a fixed oil when applying to areas other than the bottom of the foot. Essential oils recommended for gout symptoms are: Angelica Root, Basil, Carrot Seed, Celery Seed, Rosemary and Thyme.

Sleep: For sleep I like to apply relaxing essential oils like Lavender directly on my pillow under the pillowcase . Just a drop or two can make you feel like your bed is in a lavender field. The strongest sedative oil, Valerian, is somewhat unpleasant smelling oil to many. However, if you put a drop on each foot and then rub your feet together before going to bed, it can really help put many (including myself) to sleep within about ten minutes. To learn more about easing insomnia, Click Here.

Grounding and Spiritual Practices: You may have heard of anointing oils applied to the feet from the bible. You may have also heard of energy healing practices like Reiki and meditation. To read more about meditation, Click Here. I personally like to apply oils that are grounding to my feet each morning before I put my socks on. Then I give each foot a 10 to 15 second massage. Some great grounding essential oils are: Angelica Root, Benzoin, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Spikenard and Vetiver. These oils are all recommended to help balance the Root Chakra. Read more about Chakras, Click Here

When not to apply to the feet: This may be common sense, but if you are treating a particular physical problem, like skin, scalp, muscles, joints, etc. you need to apply your essential oil formula to the affected areas. If you are treating an emotional issue, you need those oils to go through the nose to the olfactory nerve. Since the feet are so far down from your nose you will not be able to smell them long after application, so another method would be strongly prefered. Also, if you have open cuts, wounds or burns on the bottom of your feet, do not use essential oils undiluted or it could really sting. Finally, when getting a reflexology treatment, no oils are used. Reflexology is a great science but it has no known connection to the science of aromatherapy. 

Your feet are important. They do a lot of work, carry you through life, and can often take a beating. So treat your feet with the same care and consideration as the rest of your body. 

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