by Reba Word ND

During the summer months the ambient heat from the sun and the environment can cause changes in our circulatory system.  People may notice more swelling in extremities due to the leakage of fluid from the vasodilation of peripheral blood vessels.  Vasodilation is when a vessel expands in diameter to allow more blood flow to an area.  This is a protective mechanism; the vessels in the periphery of the body expand to allow heat to be lost therefore cooling the body.

This can become excessive though — and swelling can occur when blood pools.  A good hydro technique to try is to put the feet in basins of alternating temperatures.  You can do it like this:

Fill two basins of water (small recycle bins without holes in the bottom are a good size), one with hot water and one with cold.

Put the feet in the hot water for 3 minutes — this actually increases the vasodilation and blood in the area.

Then put the feet in the cold basin for 30 seconds — this prompts the musculature of the vessels to contract thus pushing blood back into the core of the body.

Alternate like this several times and end in the cold water.

Propping your feet up on an ottoman or lying on the floor and putting your legs up a wall magnifies the effects.  Adding a couple drops of essential oil (such as lavender or rose) to the warm basin is also nice. Very refreshing.