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Remedies for Swollen Feet & Ankles

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Apple cider vinegar and other effective home remedies to reduce swelling in the feet and ankles.

Swelling of 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.

Home Remedies for Swollen Feet

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

#1: Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is the kind of vinegar made from apple must. It has a pale amber color and is extensively used in the food industry.

To make apple cider vinegar, apples are crushed and their liquid squeezed out. This liquid is then fermented by adding yeast and bacteria.

The fermentation process proceeds in two stages: a first stage in which the sugars in the apple juice are turned to alcohol; and a second stage during which the alcohol is turned into acetic acid and other acids making up vinegar such as lactic acid, malic acid, and citric acid.

The sharp, sour taste of vinegar is due to acetic acid and malic acid. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and those who find the liquid preparation too sour or acerbic can opt for the tablets instead.

Unrefined or organic apple cider vinegar looks slightly congealed and appears with a cobweb-like, dark froth. This froth contains nutrients such as enzymes, minerals, and the acetobacter responsible for the fermentation process.

This dark “mother of vinegar”, as it called, is then added to future batches of apple cider vinegar to hasten new fermentation processes. 

Organic apple cider vinegar is preferable to pasteurized apple cider vinegar for treating edema because the “mother” is removed during the processing of the pasteurized forms sold in supermarkets.

The active ingredients in apple cider vinegar include potassium, pectin, malic acid, calcium, acetic acid, and ash.

Pectin is useful for reducing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure; calcium is needed for strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis; and malic acid is responsible for the antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of apple cider vinegar.

Acetic acid lowers carbohydrate metabolism and is useful in the treatment of diabetes, and ash is responsible for the alkaline property of apple cider vinegar even though there are several organic acids also present in the vinegar.

Potassium, on the other hand, is the chief reason apple cider vinegar is useful in the treatment of edema. Studies have shown that one of the serious symptoms of potassium deficiency is edema.

When the potassium levels in the body are low, the cells tend to fill with water which is the cause of swelling in different parts of the body. This is because potassium ion (together with sodium and chloride ions) is responsible for the cellular pumps in the body.

Together, these minerals regulate what goes into the cells and what comes out. When potassium levels fall in the body, there is not enough pressure generated to counterbalance the effects of other ions driving water into the cells. Therefore, there is a net fluid inflow and thus edema.

When this occurs to the brain cells, it can lead to persistent headaches and even cerebral edema.

Potassium deficiency is also implicated in rapid weight gain in people with thyroid disease. In such cases, the weight gain is due to fluid retention and not a fat deposition.

The importance of potassium to edema management is the reason why the mineral is given as supplements in edema patients receiving loop diuretics and thiazides.

Thiazides and loop diuretics are two classes of diuretics used in the treatment of edema. However, unlike potassium-sparing diuretics, they cause the loss of potassium from the body alongside sodium and fluid.

Apple cider vinegar can replenish the potassium levels in the body and reverse fluid retention in edema patients.

Apple cider vinegar is a common household staple used for cooking. It is also used as a low-calorie salad dressing. According to Earl Mindell, author of “Dr. Earl Mindell's Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar,” what some people may not know is that apple cider vinegar can reduce swelling.

Apple cider vinegar is a part of an ancient tradition of home remedies dating back to Babylonia. It's even believed that Hippocrates used vinegar to treat wounds.

Leg and ankle swelling caused by edema can be very uncomfortable and painful. According to Natural-HomeRemedies.com, you may use vinegar wraps to reduce this swelling.

Just soak a towel in a mixture prepared with warm water and vinegar, and wrap the affected ankle with this towel for several minutes. Repeat this process using cold water to reduce the swelling associated with edema.

As per Cal Orey, author of the book "The Healing Powers of Vinegar," apple cider vinegar can also help reduce water retention. Since apple cider vinegar has a high potassium content, it can balance the sodium that accumulates in the body and aid in preventing fluid retention.

You may follow this home remedy: mix 2 teaspoons of unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and consume it twice a day to help reduce fluid retention.

The appropriate dose of apple cider vinegar depends on various factors such as the person's age, health, and several other conditions. 

At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses. Be sure to follow the relevant directions on product labels and talk to your doctor before using it to treat edema

However, a good ratio is to mix 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of purified water. To improve the taste of the solution, you can add a little honey.

Make sure to shake the apple cider vinegar bottle to mix the mother of vinegar which would have settled at the bottom.

#2: 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 in 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.

#3: 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.

#4: 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 homemade tea. Drink one cup of tea nightly until the swelling is reduced.

How Does It Work?

Dandelion acts as a natural diuretic, causing kidneys to increase the volume of urine and expel the extra salt accumulated inside the body.

By stimulating more urine production, dandelion affects the blood volume and water balance in your body, causing excess fluid to move out of the body tissues. 

The potential changes brought about by the herb in fluid balance, is a reduction in fluid retention and the lowering of the blood pressure

While the exact mechanism of the diuretic effects of dandelion is not well studied, scientists have confirmed that it has a strong diuretic activity that is comparable to conventional diuretic drugs.

The diuretic effect of dandelion is believed to be due to taraxasterol. This plant sterol removes fluids from spaces between tissues and the skin. It tightens the muscles by this action and is often used by bodybuilders for this effect.

The herbal extract of dandelion used to make diuretic preparations is taken from the leaves. The roots of the plant are usually used in making herbal laxatives.

However, the most important aspect of the diuretic action of dandelion is that the herb also contains potassium. Unlike most diuretics, this natural preparation does not cause hypokalemia. Instead, it supplies potassium to the body.

This is beneficial when dandelion is used exclusively as a diuretic or when combined with loop and thiazide diuretics.

However, when dandelion is taken along with potassium-sparing diuretics, there is a significant risk of hyperkalemia from accumulated potassium in the body.

Recommended Dosage

Dandelion is available as a dried herb or as an extract in most health food stores. You may take 500 mg in capsule or tablet form, one to three times daily. The dried herb may be used to make tea by soaking it up in hot water for five to ten minutes.

#5: Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit essential oil is a soothing oil that also helps reduce inflammation and swelling.

Add a few drops of 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.

#6: 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.

#7: 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 the swelling is gone.

#8: 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.

#9: 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. 

#10: 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.

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