I’m so happy to have a special guest post today from the ever-so-talented Karen K. Yes, this is the same Karen K who took the pictures of the swallows in Japan that are so beautiful. Hopefully you’ll be seeing her around here more often! This post is a result of her recent trip to Oakland Chinatown with her Tui Na class.

This warming herbal soak is from A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth, an excellent book on how to use Chinese medicine for external injuries like sprains, strains, bruises, contusions, etc. The photo, which shows multiple packets of the Warming Soak detailed below, was taken at Draline Tong in Oakland’s Chinatown (http://www.yelp.com/biz/draline-tong-herbs-oakland). For people who don’t have access to local herb shops, you can order all of these herbs online at places like this:

WARMING SOAK (external use only)
DO NOT USE on inflamed areas or newly injured areas; this formula is for older, chronic injuries that won’t heal.
1. very warming
2. treats sinew injuries where the area is painful and sensitive to cold or hurts more in cold weather
3. relaxes tendons; warms and increases circulation to the local area
This formula constitutes 1 package of herbs, enough to make 1 soak that will last 7 to 10 days.
9 grams each of the following:
Chuan wu / Radix aconiti carmichaeli (Sichuan aconite)
Fu zi (aconite)
Chuan jiao / Pericarpium zanthoxyli (Sichuan pepper)
Tou gu cao / Herba speranskia tuberculata
Ai ye / Folium artemisiae argyi (mugwort leaf)
Cang zhu / Rhizoma atractylodis
Du huo / Radix angelicae pubescentis
Gui zhi / Ramulus cinnamomi (cinnamon twig)
Fang feng / Radix ledebouriellae sesloidis
Hong hua / Flos carthamii tinctorii (safflower)
Shen jin cao / Herba lycopodii (clubmoss)
Liu ji nu / Herba artemesiae anomalae (artemisia)
For further instructions keep reading!
Put one package of herbs in a pot large enough to cover the injured area. Add about 2 gallons of water, more if necessary to cover injured area. If the injury is to the foot or hand, add enough water so that the ankle or wrist will also be covered. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Then remove the pot from the stove.
At this point, the liquid is too hot to soak in. If the injury is to one of the extremities, you can bathe the area in the steam as the liquid cools. This warms the area and allows the steam to penetrate the superficial tissues. When the liquid has cooled (warm but not uncomfortably hot), soak the injured part for 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re using towels, you can soak them in the liquid, let them cool briefly, and put them over the affected area. The towels will cool fairly quickly, so you’ll need several to keep a warm, penetrating heat on the injury for 15 to 20 minutes.
After using the soak, dry the skin and keep it warm and away from cold or drafts. Cover the pot. The soak can be used once or twice a day for 7 to 10 days. Simply reheat, there’s no need to boil again. As long as you keep the pot covered and reheat the soak every day, the liquid will not get moldy. You can leave the herbs in the pot or strain them out, whatever you prefer.