Increasing Warmth in Oncological Patients: A Randomized Controlled Cross-Over Pilot Trial Examining the Efficacy of Mustard and Ginger Footbaths

Integr Cancer Ther. 2021 Jan-Dec:20:15347354211058449. doi: 10.1177/15347354211058449.


Objective: To analyze the thermogenic effects of footbaths with medicinal powders in oncological patients (ON) and healthy controls (HC).

Intervention and outcomes: Thirty-six participants (23 ON, 13 HC; 24 females; 49.9 ± 13.3 years) received 3 footbaths in a random order with cross-over design: warm water only (WA), warm water plus mustard (MU, Sinapis nigra), and warm water plus ginger (GI, Zingiber officinale). Warmth perception of the feet (Herdecke Warmth Perception Questionnaire, HeWEF) at the follow-up (10 minutes after completion of footbaths, t2) was assessed as the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures included overall warmth as well as self-reported warmth (HeWEF) and measured skin temperature (high resolution thermography) of the face, hands and feet at baseline (t0), post immersion (t1), and follow-up (t2).

Results: With respect to the warmth perception of the feet, GI and MU differed significantly from WA (P's < .05) with the highest effect sizes at t1 (WA vs GI, d = 0.92, WA vs MU, d = 0.73). At t2, perceived warmth tended to be higher with GI compared to WA (d = 0.46). No differences were detected between ON and HC for self-reported warmth. With respect to skin temperatures, face and feet skin temperatures of ON were colder (at t0 and t1, 0.42 ≥ d ≥ 0.68) and tended to have diametrical response patterns than HC (ON vs HC: colder vs warmer after MU).

Conclusion: Among adult oncological patients and healthy controls, footbaths with mustard and ginger increased warmth perception of the feet longer than with warm water only. The potential impact of regularly administered thermogenic footbaths over extended periods merits further investigation for the recovery of cancer-related sense of cold.

Keywords: cancer; footbath; ginger; mustard; oncological patients; thermoregulation; warmth.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Ginger*
  • Humans
  • Mustard Plant
  • Pilot Projects