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Remedies for Swollen Feet & Ankles

Here are some effective remedies to reduce swelling in feet and ankles.
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Swelling in feet and ankles is common, especially among elderly people. Some of the potential causes of this condition are menstruation, obesity, pregnancy, foot injuries, and old age.

Another cause of swollen ankles is edema, also referred to as peripheral edema. It is caused by abnormal retention of fluids in various parts of the body. Though water retention may occur anywhere in the body, the most common areas are the ankles and legs.

Read on to find out how to reduce swelling in your feet and ankles at home without a prescription or visit to the doctor.

These remedies for swollen feet should cure mild edema within just a few days. However, if edema persists longer than one week, consult with a health professional as additional medical attention may be necessary to reduce your edema.

Why Your Feet Swell

All forms of edema involve the interplay of 5 factors. These include hydrostatic pressure, oncotic pressure, deterioration of the blood vessels, impairment of the lymphatic system and changes in the fluid-retention property of tissues. Hydrostatic pressure is generated by fluids while oncotic pressure is generated by proteins in the plasma. Both are usually generated in the blood vessels.

However, when fluids leak out of the vessels these pressures can also be generated in tissues. Swelling, fluid retention or edema in the feet and ankles usually begins when the walls of the blood vessels become permeable. This is usually because of deterioration of the wall. This effect is further compounded especially when the rate blood flow in these vessels are reduced.

Therefore, oncotic pressure in the vessels falls sharply as fluids leak out of the blood vessels into the interstitial spaces. Hydrostatic pressure in the tissues, on the other hand, quickly rises as more fluids leak out of the vessels and pool in the tissues.

Ideally, the lymphatic system is responsible for moving away excess fluids from the extracellular or interstitial spaces. However, in most cases of edema, the lymphatic system does not function efficiently. Therefore, the fluid leaked into the tissues keeps building up instead of being transported to the nearest lymph nodes. Water retention in the tissues can also be worsened if the nature of the tissues changes too. When hydrophilic (water-loving) compounds, such as the carbohydrate-like hyaluronan, are deposited in the tissue matrix, they increase the tissue’s affinity for water by absorbing more water and swelling up.

Home Remedies for Swollen Feet

Try these home remedies for swollen ankles and feet and find relief fast!

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 1:Movement

Frequent movement helps reduce swelling caused by water retention. You should take breaks in between and walk more frequently, and avoid sitting or standing in one place for extended hours. If you must sit for extended periods, sit with your feet propped up and get up once an hour to walk around and stretch your legs.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 2: Diet

Diet can play a significant role in how much swelling you have in your feet and ankles. High-salt, low-water diets can cause your body to hold on to fluid to retain the ideal electrolyte balance in the body. On the other hand, if you are drinking too much water and not getting enough salt, your body can also hold onto excess fluid. When this happens, your body tries to store the liquid until it can get rid of it later, which can lead to a bit of swelling. Salt intake should be no more than 2100 milligrams per day to prevent swelling, but make sure you do eat some salt throughout the day because too little salt in the body is also a problem. Typically, if you eat a lot of processed foods you are likely getting far too much salt in a day, but if you rarely eat processed foods and do not cook with much salt, you may need to add a little more to your diet.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 3: Massage

Massage is effective in reducing swelling in the feet and ankles because the pressure encourages the fluid to leave your feet and ankles and travel to your kidneys where it can be expelled along with other excess liquid. Follow these steps to encourage the swelling to leave your legs: Rub warm mustard oil on your feet and ankles. Mustard oil is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce swelling. Massage the area for five to ten minutes, working the swelling up toward the body. Don’t use a lot of pressure, but gently push the fluid up. Repeat the massage at least twice a day to encourage fluid to leave the body.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 4: Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the use of alternating hot and cold water on the legs to encourage fluid to leave the feet. Warm water improves circulation and cold water reduces swelling and inflammation. Use foot tubs for this remedy. Fill one with cold water and one tub with hot water. Soak your feet in the hot water for five minutes. Move your feet to the cold tub and soak your feet in the cold water for one minute. Repeat this process for about 20 minutes. Do this twice a day until the swelling has gone down in your legs.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 5: Compression Stockings

Compression stockings can help prevent fluid from pooling in the legs if you have to be on your feet all day, drive for extended periods, or are flying on a plane. Compression stockings place pressure on your legs and discourage fluid from remaining in your legs. Most compressions stockings have graduated pressure, with the most pressure at the ankle gradually lessening toward the top of the stocking. You can purchase compression stockings online, but your doctor can also prescribe specific stockings for individual needs. In some cases, you may need to wear more than one pair of stockings at a time to control swelling depending on how bad your edema is and what you are doing.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 6: Water

Drinking more water can make a big difference in edema caused by too much salt in the body. One easy way to get more water in your diet is to drink a few cups of lemon water throughout the day. Lemon water is made by simply squeezing the juice of a lemon into a glass and filling it the rest of the way with water. If the taste of lemon water is too sour for you, you can add a touch of honey to make a lightly-sweetened lemonade. This lemon water keeps you hydrated and citrus also carries a whole host of benefits for the body, including high doses of vitamin C that is essential for a healthy body.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 7: Epsom Salt

If your feet are swollen at the end of the day, an Epsom salt soak can help relieve pressure and swelling. Epsom salt also relieves discomfort and can help reduce mild pain. Add ½ a cup of Epsom salt to a foot tub and soak your feet for 10 minutes. You can repeat this treatment several times a week. You can also sprinkle a bath with Epsom salt every time you take a bath for a magnesium boost that will help control foot swelling.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 8: Ginger

Ginger removes excess fluid from the body and is also anti-inflammatory. This helps relieve swelling on two levels. Ginger is also able to remove excess salt from the body, which is particularly beneficial if you eat a high-salt diet. You can use ginger oil along with a carrier oil to massage your feet at night, and you can also add raw ginger to a tea that you drink nightly. Try mixing ginger with dandelion tea for maximum edema-fighting properties.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 9: Dandelion

Dandelion is a natural diuretic that helps reduce excess swelling from the body without removing any excess vitamins and minerals along with it. You can purchase dandelion tea from most health food stores or you can also add dried dandelion leaves to hot water and brew your own homemade tea at home. Drink one cup of tea nightly until the swelling is reduced.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 10: Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that the body uses to help prevent swelling in the body. If you have chronic edema and swelling in the legs, you could be deficient in magnesium. Adding a magnesium supplement to your diet can help control swelling and edema from the inside out. The USDA recommends that adults take 350 mg of magnesium per day to control swelling and prevent swelling in the ankles and legs.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 11: Exercise

Exercise is beneficial for the body in multiple ways, but when it comes to leg swelling, exercise is one of the best things you can do to prevent edema from coming back. Exercise improves circulation and strengthens your muscles and veins, discouraging your legs from harboring unwanted fluids. Yoga is credited with being of special benefit for edema and swelling. Yoga is gentle enough on joints and muscles that most people can start a beginning yoga class.

Swimming is also beneficial for edema as it uses the whole body and resistance to build muscles and strengthen the veins. Floating in the water also gives your circulatory system a break, so that it is easier for fluid to move back where it belongs and out of your ankles.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 12: Elevation

When possible, prop your feet up close to the level of your heart or above the level of your heart. Propping your legs is one simple way to make it easier for circulation to occur even while you are working or sitting. Keep your legs propped up at night when watching a movie or looking at your phone and, when possible, prop your legs at work to reduce excess swelling. Remedy for Swollen Feet # 13: Quit Smoking If you smoke, your chances of having edema and swelling in the legs goes up. Smoking is not only more likely to cause general swelling in the legs, but it is also associated with serious health risks that can alter your lymphatic system, causing your edema to stick around far longer than is healthy. If you suffer from chronic swelling and smoke, now is the time to think seriously about quitting before it is too late.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 14: Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit essential oil is a soothing oil that also helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Add a few drops of the oil to your bath at night to ease inflammation and reduce swelling. You can also add a drop of grapefruit oil to your massage oil to give a little extra anti-inflammatory boost to your massage session.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 15: Parsley

According to a study published in 2002 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, parsley inhibits the sodium and potassium ion pumps, which increases the flow of urine. In short, parsley encourages excess fluid to leave the body. What’s great about using parsley supplements to reduce swelling in the ankles is that parsley also is high in potassium. Many diuretics reduce potassium levels along with sodium levels, which does not cure the root of the edema problem, which is often an electrolyte imbalance. Parsley supplements keep potassium levels high while removing excess sodium at the same time, maintaining the delicate potassium/sodium balance necessary to keep your body healthy and reduce swelling.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 16: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is also useful for reducing swelling and controlling edema. Internally, apple cider vinegar is high in potassium, encouraging excess fluid to leave the body without harming the balance of your body. You can also add apple cider vinegar to a foot soak to control swelling and reduce inflammation from the outside in. Try taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily to help control edema over the long term.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 17: Coriander

Coriander seeds are credited with curing swelling in the ankles and feet. Coriander is anti-inflammatory and can strengthen the veins and reduce swelling. The best way to consume coriander seeds to cure swelling is to make a coriander tea. Add 2 teaspoons of coriander to one cup of water. Boil this mixture until it reduces to half a cup of liquid. Let the tea cool until it is cool enough to drink. Drink this tea mixture every two or three days until swelling is gone.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 18: Foot Compress

If your feet are particularly swollen, try a foot compress. Use this recipe and place it over your swollen feet while they are elevated. Leave the compress on your feet for at least 30 minutes each day.

Foot Compress For Swelling
  • 1 ounce white willow leaves
  • 1 ounce rosemary leaves
  • 1ounce nettle leaves
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar

Crush the leaves and add them to the vinegar.

Let the mixture sit for about a week.

Add one teaspoon of the vinegar mixture to seven teaspoons of water.

Soak a flannel or cotton cloth in the diluted mixture and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Place on the swollen area for 30 minutes a day.


Remedy for Swollen Feet # 19: Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds have diuretic properties and can help reduce excess sodium. You can take fennel seed supplements, or boil fennel seeds in water to make a hot tea. Drink the tea mixture once a day until the swelling is gone. You can continue to take fennel supplements as a preventive measure to prevent leg swelling from returning.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 20: Nettle

Nettle can also remove excess water from the body. Nettle contains several beneficial vitamins and minerals that reduce swelling and prevent ankle edema. You can brew a nettle tea, or take a nettle supplement daily until edema supplements subside.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 21: Tonic Water

Tonic water contains quinine, which is a mild pain reliever and inflammation fighter. If you have swollen legs and feet at the end of the day, fill a foot tub with tonic water. Soak your feet in the mixture for 10 minutes, then follow up by soaking your feet in warm water.

Remedy for Swollen Feet # 22: Baking Soda

Baking soda also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce foot swelling. Mix baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the swollen legs or feet and let it rest for 15 minutes while keeping your legs elevated. Rinse with warm water. Repeat this topical treatment once a day until your edema subsides.

Conventional Treatment for Swollen Feet

In some cases, home remedies may not be enough to reduce swelling in the feet and legs. After a visit to your doctor, you may attempt some of the following remedies to reduce swelling in your feet.

Loop Diuretics

Loop diuretics are very effective and recommended for patients who cannot be given the other types of diuretics. They are especially indicated for treating edema in patients who also have renal impairment, liver cirrhosis, heart failure or nephrotic syndrome.

Loop diuretics act on the sodium/potassium transporters found on the ascending limb of the loop of Henle of the kidney nephrons. They prevent water from being reabsorbed by preventing sodium reabsorption. However, potassium reabsorption (and to lesser extents, the reabsorption of calcium and magnesium) are also inhibited.

To bypass this limitation, loop diuretics are often recommended to be taken along with potassium supplements. Some of them, for example Lasix K (Furosemide + Potassium), are even formulated with a potassium salt included. Taking potassium supplements is especially recommended for patients taking both loop and thiazide diuretics.

Thiazide Diuretics

Thiazide diuretics act on the distal convoluted tubules of the nephrons. They are all chemically similar. Thiazides produce their diuretic effect by inhibiting sodium reabsorption too. However, they do so at transporters shared by sodium and potassium.

Therefore, they also inhibit potassium reabsorption although they spare calcium. Thiazides are not recommended for pregnant women with swollen feet and ankles. They are not to be given to patients who have histories of gout or to those who are also treating diabetes.

Potassium-sparing Diuretics

Potassium-sparing diuretics do not inhibit the reabsorption of potassium in the nephrons of the kidney. This is because they do not act at the transporters shared by both sodium and potassium. Some potassium-sparing diuretics, such as amiloride, simply inhibit sodium channels while others, such as spironolactone, block aldosterone, a corticosteroid hormone released by the renin-angiotensin system which is responsible for water retention in the kidneys.

Home Remedies Can Treat Swelling

Most cases of edema are mild and caused by too much salt in the diet, too little water, or not enough exercise. By implementing the remedies for swollen feet outlined in this article, you can reduce swelling quickly and effectively. Continue some of the remedies on a long-term basis, such as taking supplements to encourage excess fluid to leave your body and eat a healthy diet low in salt to reduce further risk of developing swelling in the legs again. With these remedies, your leg edema and swollen ankles should be back to normal within a few weeks.

But as always, if the swelling in your legs lasts more than a week or so, consult with a doctor to discuss what steps should be taken to prevent your edema from worsening.

Next Article: Edema Diet: Foods to Avoid for Edema
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