About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Names and identifying details have been changed on any person described in these posts to protect their identity.

Barefoot and Indignant

I haven’t been this grossed out in a long time.  I just got back from a long weekend trip to the east coast for a family reunion.  I don’t fly a lot, but I do take a handful of trips each year.  On this particular trip, for some reason, going barefoot through airport security had me totally disgusted.

At the airport on the way home, the light hit the floor just right as I was heading through security. I could see the damp footprints of the thousands of people who before me had walked barefoot through this same line. I ambled through the line on the sides of my bare feet, trying to come into contact with the floor as little as possible.  Unfortunately, I had to wait several minutes for the TSA guys to go through someone’s liquids, and that’s when I started to really get squeamish.

Much like the imaginary ten second rule, (it’s okay to eat if it’s been on the floor for less than ten seconds) the longer I stood barefoot in a multitude of skanky footprints, the more grossed out I got.  

It would be reasonable at this point to wonder what this post has to do with Chinese medicine.  My thinking is that this scenario is a case of damp heat and toxins meeting up with Wei Qi deficiency creating all kinds of havoc for people.  

Let me explain. Damp heat is the pattern in Chinese medicine behind a whole host of funky things that live on people’s feet, such as athlete’s foot, plantar warts, and such.  In Chinese medicine, infections like staph and strep are considered toxins.  To fight these things off, you have Wei Qi is, your defensive energy.  It surrounds your body like a protective bubble, and works much like your immune system.  So the person with weak Wei Qi who comes into contact with damp heat infections or toxins is more likely to pick up a little something when they walk through airport security.

So the question that nobody’s asking is this:  is it possible to get a staph infection, warts or athlete’s foot simply by walking barefoot on a contaminated floor?  I say yes.  I think the danger is even greater for someone with a compromised immune system, like someone with diabetes.  Think about this:  the virus for plantar warts can survive for months without a host. Also, wrestlers, swimmers, and other athletes routinely pick up these infections from hanging out in a locker room.  How is the security line at the airport any different?

So the next time you travel, wear thick socks when walking through security.  It doesn’t matter if you look like a geek with socks and sandals; you can take them off right after you put your computer and shampoo back in your carry-on.  Also, if they’re going to rifle through your carry on, ask those TSA guys glove up.  You never know whose dirty laundry they were rifling through before you. 

 Happy trails.

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