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Alternative Treatments for Leg Edema

Leg edema strikes many individuals throughout their lives. As long as the swelling is not caused by a life-threatening condition, these natural remedies for leg edema are effective and have zero side effects.
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Leg edema strikes most people at some point or another in their lifetime. Pregnancy, sedimentary lifestyles, unhealthy foods, and a variety of health issues can all cause leg edema and swelling elsewhere in the body. While there are medications and over-the-counter treatments to control and contain leg edema, many of these treatments cause an imbalance of nutrients and electrolytes in the body, which could have dangerous side effects.

Individuals who do not want to take medication for leg swelling don’t have to suffer with swollen legs, however. The following alternative treatments for leg edema are natural, effective, and provide lasting results that can even work to prevent edema from coming back.

Causes of Leg Edema

Most cases of edema are not serious. However, some symptoms may indicate a serious health risk, such as a blood clot or liver problems. Common causes of edema include:

  • Standing or sitting for long periods
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication
  • Allergies
  • Insect bites
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Hormonal changes
  • Infections or injuries
  • Too much or too little salt in the diet
  • Exposure to high altitudes or heat

More serious causes of edema include:

  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems
  • Blocked lymph channels
  • Brain tumors or head injuries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure

Health Risks for Leg Edema

Swelling alone isn’t much of a health risk, but if you suffer from chronic leg swelling, or leg swelling accompanied by pain or other symptoms, it could be a sign of a serious health risk. Don’t allow leg edema to go untreated. If the condition does not fade within 24 hours, it could be the sign of a more serious health problem, such as a blood clot or kidney failure.

Don’t try to treat emergency edema with at-home remedies. At-home remedies work best for swelling that occurs from minor reasons, such as from sitting still too long or pregnancy. If you suspect another cause for edema that could be serious, don’t wait to seek medical attention. Many of the serious causes of leg edema can be life-threatening.

Natural Treatments for Leg Edema

If you don’t want to take medication or diuretics for treating leg edema, and your condition is not life-threatening, then natural treatments for leg edema are quite effective and can be used in place of medications. Even though these treatments are all-natural, not all natural treatments for leg edema are safe for use during pregnancy. Consult with a doctor or midwife before trying any alternative treatments for leg edema during pregnancy.

The following natural methods are effective in treating non-serious leg edema:

Natural Treatments for Leg Edema
  • Minerals
  • Electrolytes
  • Herbs
  • Dry brushing
  • Massage
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Water


In some cases, an electrolyte and mineral imbalance can lead to swelling in the legs. A study from 1998 found that when women supplemented with magnesium, they saw less swelling and weight gain in the weeks leading up to menstruation. Some studies have found that too little minerals and electrolytes in the body can actually cause the legs and other areas of the body to retain water, leading to an increase in swelling.

Salt, Potassium, and other Electrolytes

The balance of electrolytes is incredibly important. Electrolytes regulate the flow of fluids in and out of cells and tissues. When electrolytes are out of balance, swelling is a common side effect. Individuals who drink a lot of water without any accompanying electrolytes in the diet have an imbalance of electrolytes that can cause leg edema. Make sure your daily intake of salt, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate is adequate and not out of balance. Both too-high levels of electrolytes and too-low levels can lead to swelling in the legs.

Ginkgo Biloba

In some cases, leg swelling is caused by poor circulation in the legs. You can fix this by moving around more, but if you have chronic circulation problems, you may find a circulation-booster helpful. Ginkgo biloba is a highly effective treatment for poor circulation. The herb promotes circulation and increases healthy blood flow to the legs.

Horse Chestnut

Horse chestnut strengthens the capillaries and promotes healthy circulation. According to some studies, the herb is able is a powerful circulation booster and edema-fighter.


Dandelion is a bitter herb, but it also is a powerful diuretic that can help reduce swelling and leg edema. According to studies, dandelion is one of the few diuretics that can reduce swelling and water retention without depleting potassium and other vital electrolytes. This is important because too-little electrolytes can make swelling worse.

Hawthorne Berry

A 2008 study conducted by German researchers found that hawthorne is an effective remedy for leg edema. The researchers fed hawthorne berry supplements to rats with paw edema. After the rats took the supplements, their paw edema was reduced by 50 percent. This indicates that hawthorne berry is an effective remedy for leg edema in humans.


Exercise improves circulation, which is essential to prevent leg swelling. Sitting or standing all day causes fluid to build-up in the legs. Fluid often builds up more when circulation is weak in the legs, or if more fluid is present in the body. The above supplements can strengthen the blood vessels and reduce tissue build-up in the legs, but daily exercise is also important to prevent swelling in the legs. A brisk daily walk can help restore circulation and prevent swelling due to inactivity.

If you sit or stand for long periods, take frequent exercise breaks to keep your circulation moving and prevent edema. Regular exercise at least 3 times a week can also help improve overall circulation in the legs.


If you eat unhealthy foods, your risk of edema from both non-serious and serious causes increases. According to the University of Maryland, an unhealthy diet (particularly one high in salt) can lead to leg edema. Allergens, sugar, dairy, and gluten have all been linked to an increased risk for edema. Stick to healthy foods, with a large amount of vegetables and fruit daily, served alongside healthy fats and protein.

Avoid sugar and junk food (particularly hydrogenated oils) and your risk for developing leg edema will decrease significantly.


Poor circulation in the legs can cause swelling near the lymph nodes. If you have swelling in the lymphatic system, you will see more leg edema. You can stimulate the circulation in the lymphatic system with massage. Gently massage the leg going up from ankle to the thigh using gentle, firm pressure. Simulate the action that fluid would normally take to get in an out of the legs. Propping your feet up while you massage them could help leg edema to go down faster.

More or Less Water

An imbalance of water in the body can cause swelling in the legs. If you already drink a lot of water, try cutting back for a couple of weeks to see if less water intake helps prevent leg edema. However, if your daily fluid intake is low and your salt intake is high, you may be able to prevent some edema by adding more water to your diet. In general, urine that is pale yellow indicates the right balance of salt in the body. Anything much darker or clearer could mean you need to decrease or increase your fluid intake.

Dry Brushing

According to the University of Maryland, dry brushing the skin with a rough brush or loofa can help stimulate circulation and prevent led edema. The university suggests starting at the feet and brushing upward toward the heart. Always stroke upward rather than downward to help fluid out of the legs. Contrast Hydrotherapy Contrast hydrotherapy contrasts heat and cold with ice and heat packs to fight fluid retention. This can be particularly effective as a treatment for swelling caused by injuries. Apply heat for three minutes, then apply cold for one minute. Repeat three times. Throughout each day, repeat the contrast therapy 2-3 times until swelling reduces.

The University of Maryland states that this therapy may be hard on the heart. If you have heart issues, consult with a health professional before trying contrast hydrotherapy.

Prevent Leg Edema Naturally

Although nothing will completely prevent leg edema from arriving under certain circumstances (such as while taking medications or pregnancy), the above alternative treatments for leg edema will help prevent non-serious leg edema from becoming serious. The right vitamins and minerals, electrolytes, exercise routine, diet, circulation boosters, and activity level all work together to prevent leg edema at the source. By following these alternative treatments for edema, you can improve your circulation and have healthier, happier legs.





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