One of the first things I look for as a woman walks into my clinicis what she has got on her feet and her resulting posture. Wearing shoes that fit is the foundation, quite literally, of good health. Feet are the hardest-working part of your body and contain a quarter of all the bones in the body. Leonardo da Vinci pronounced them ‘the greatest engineering device in the world’ yet we do tend to

neglect them shamefully. One of the surest ways I find to relax myself after a particularly trying day is to administer a foot massage. Someone else doing it for me is my idea of heaven but if you have got to go it alone here is

how. Immerse your feet in soapy water or apply a herbal oil lavishly Start by kneading the sole of one foot with your bunched fist. Now hold the foot between both hands giving a circular thumb

FOOT MASSAGE

massage all over the top and then switching this to the bottom of the foot. Now rub the ankle in a wide circular motion with your fingertips. Run your thumb firmly along each tendon on the top of the foot, working from the toes towards the ankles and at the same time squeezing the foot with a hard pumping action be tween your hands. Massage each toe individually with a spiralling movement from the base to the tip.

FOOT BATHS

These can be made using an infusion of geranium leaves, lady’s.

mantle, comfrey or marshmallow. Add a dash of cider vinegar to the water. After soaking your feet treat them to a generous rub with any of the creams you would use for your hands. Cold feet can be warmed by a dash of cayenne pepper diluted with a little talc sprinkled in the socks or better still by immersing your feet in a basinful of cold water immediately on rising for thirty seconds. Then take your feet out and place them on a towel next to the basin and spend a few minutes pretending you are picking marbles or pencils with your toes. This really gets the circulation moving and warms your feet (although the first dip in an uninviteding basin of cold water requires a bit of courage – especially first

thing in the morning!). This reaps excellent results if it is practised faithfully for at least sixty days.

ATHLETE’S FOOT

This is a fungal ringworm infection causing the feet to itch, become unusually moist and smell very unpleasant. The pH of the foot changes from its normal acid balance to an alkaline one. Cider vinegar foot baths will correct this. Use soapwort not soap to wash the feet, keeping them scrupulously clean and absolutely dry. Let as much air and sun get to the feet as possible and be considerate about walking around barefoot in public places because athlete’s foot is highly infectious.

Herbal bath for athlete’s foot

1 oz (30 g) red clover 1 0z (30 g) sage

1 oz (30 g) marigold

1 oz (30 g) thyme

5 pints (3 litres) water 2 teaspoons tincture of myrrh

Make a decoction of the herbs by simmering them (but not the myrrh) in the water for twenty minutes. Strain (saving the strain herbs). Allow the decoction to cool and add the myrrh just before immersing your feet. After your feet have been soaking for about ten minutes, apply the strained herbs as a poultice, spreading them thickly between the toes. An empty basin placed beneath your feet during this operation will catch the bits of poultice that drop off. Relax. Watch your favourite television programme for half an hour, then rinse your feet and dry them meticulously, Powder them with arrowroot.

You should also cleanse the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. A small amount of poke root added to one of the formulae recommended for such cleansing is particularly helpful here.

PERSPIRING FEET

If perspiration from the feet is excessive it points an accusing

finger to problems with the colon, blood and lymph stream. If you

try to suppress it, it will only lead to all sorts of other damage,

such as skin eruptions, as the result of toxins being trapped inside

the body. Perspiration can be minimized by drinking a diuretic such as lady’s-mantle, couch grass, dandelion, fennel seed, or parsley, Foot baths containing the same herbs can also be used. Sprinkling the feet with neat witch-hazel, making sure you spread your toes so that the skin between them is well doused, also helps. Allow any excessive moisture to evaporate and then pat on lots of cornstarch. Never wear heavy socks, especially those made from synthetic fibres which prime the feet for sweating. Walk around barefoot or use leather sandals as much as conveniently possible.

An iridology test will determine the internal cause of the problem and is therefore advisable.

EXTERNAL FOOT DEODORANTS

All the advice offered for perspiring feet applies here. A double

strength infusion of lovage or cleavers, or a decoction of white willow bark will act as a natural deodorant. In each case use z oz (60 g) of the herbs to pint (600 ml) water.

FOOT EXERCISES

To strengthen your feet and arches, pretend you are picking up marbles with your toes. Or, if you lack imagination, use real marbles. Swim as much as you can. Walk barefoot on flat surfaces as often as possible. Firm sandy beaches are ideal for this. Lying with your feet propped up over your head for half an hour daily helps take the pressure off thread veins and relieves aching legs.

EXERCISE YOUR HANDS!

You may protest that your hands get quite enough exercise, but it

tends to be the sort that continually overuses them in one particular position. Revitalize your hands by trying to bring all the fingertips on one hand simultaneously to the points where the finger joints meet up with the pads of the palm. Then stretch your fingers out in full extension and hold this as hard as possible for a few seconds. Relax. Now let the fingers dangle for a moment Shake your wrists and move your hands in circular motion. Repeat the whole routine several times first on one hand and then on the other.

 LIVER SPOTS

These are a problem I am often asked about and are the result of a malfunctioning, tired liver and lack of assimilation of vitamins, E, Gand By Cleanse the liver and bloodstream  and rub castor oil into the spots several times daily.

CHILBLAINS

The Romans used to stimulate their frozen limbs while manning Hadrian’s Wall by flogging themselves with nettles- a somewhat

radical solution for chilblains. A less painful solution would be to assist the circulation with cayenne pepper, working up to 1 level teaspoon in juice or water before each meal, and taking 500 mg rutin daily

To soothe chilblains

Cut a leaf of house-leek lengthways and rub the exposed juicy flesh over the chilblains twice daily.

Broken chilblains

Soak them, using a light touch, in a warm infusion of marigold flowers, then cover with a poultice of the strained-out petals, keeping these in place with a bandage. A pair of thick socks helps here if the chilblains are on your feet. Such a poultice will relieve the agony of broken chilblains very quickly and accelerate their healing.

The Nails

The nail plate from which your nail grows is several millimetres below the base of the nail and takes about nine months to emerge completely, although this process slows down radically as you grow older. Nails indicate the state of your health just as clearly as the condition of your skin, eyes and hair. Pale nails with vertical ridges indicate anaemia or extreme dryness from using too many detergents. Blue nails point to inefficient circulation or not enough oxygen. If your nails are thin and constantly breaking this may indicate inadequate vitamins, minerals and protein as well as insufficient nail care and perhaps the use of metal nail manicure sets. White spots indicate a zinc deficiency.

A DIET FOR STRENGTHENING THE NAILS

Drink one wine glass full of equal parts of horsetail and comfrey tea daily. Ensure that there is plenty of calcium, kelp, B-complex vitamins, silica and magnesium in the diet. Vitamin D cures vertical ridges; folic acid and vitamin C cure hang nails (cracks in the skin along the sides of the nail) and split nails. The former are particularly painful. They can also be treated with lavish appli. cations of a hand cream made with horsetail and iris and the tip of dry skin which develops should be cut off rather than pulled, o that damage to the surrounding skin is prevented. Two coats of fresh lemon juice applied to the nails daily helps to strengthen them externally. If you are tackling a job that involves the use of detergents put on a pair of cotton-lined gloves underneath your rubber ones.

The Teeth

To most people halitosis is a fate worse than leprosy. Food particles in the teeth do not cause bad breath in themselves but once combined with oral bacteria plaque builds up, causing periodontal disease. Of those of us over the age of thirty who still have our teeth (and one third do not) three in every four have periodontal disease. It is the world’s most widespread disease, and is insidious because it is so painless, until it is well entrenched. Bleeding gums are often one of the first ominous signs. Unhappily most people tend to ignore them, putting them down to over zealous use of the toothbrush. But periodontal disease is wide spread even amongst otherwise healthy people. Constipation will cause bad breath, as will throat infections, and obviously strong smelling foods will too.

CORRECT BRUSHING OF THE TEETH

Do not brush your teeth in a straight up-and-down movement, Use a soft brush with a small head and rounded bristles, and spread it with a little herbal toothpaste. Holding it at an angle of 45 degrees to the teeth, scrub gently. Rinse out the mouth. Now dislodge the plaque from between the teeth with dental floss Rinse again. Finally treat your gums to a massage using small rotating circles with your fingertips.

HERBAL MOUTH RINSES

Tincture of myrrh helps to strengthen and disinfect spongy gums. A quantity of 5 ml (1 teaspoon) to one cup of water is sufficient. Alternatively, use a tincture of thyme, sage, marigold, blackberry or tormentil in the same quantity,

NATURAL TOOTH CLEANERS

Dentists now believe that ending a meal with cheese or peanuts is a more effective way of cleaning the teeth than eating carrots, celery or apples. Cheese and peanuts leave the mouth in a non-acidic condition, which is less likely to help corrosion than the acid left behind by fruit and vegetables. Fresh sage leaves scrubbed on the teeth have been used for

centuries by the Arabs. Simply pick a leaf and rub it over the teeth.

Discard it as soon as it begins to get soggy and move on to a new

one. Three or four leaves should be enough to polish all the teeth

and make your mouth smell sweet. Alternatively, pound equal parts of sage and fine sea salt together in a pestle and mortar and spread out the resulting greenish powder to dry in the oven on a baking sheet. This is a superb tooth powder for cleaning nicotine stains off the teeth. Whiteness and yellowness of the teeth are inherited and I am afraid it is impossible to make yellow teeth white even with the most studious care, but cheer yourself up with the thought that the darkest yellow teeth are often the most strong and decay resistant

Powdered orris root and powdered charcoal mixed in equal quantities make an effective toothpaste but the flavour needs to be masked with a few drops of clove oil or peppermint oil. Avoid abrasives like pumice stone or cuttlefish-bone on the teeth. Their abrasive action will gradually wear away the enamel.