Despite the ghastly appearance, swollen ankles are not always a cause for concern. In many cases, they could be a result of simply walking or standing in place too long, as your body moves fluid to help with normal joint movements, limiting pain in the process. On the other hand, ankles that stay swollen long after your marathon walking and standing session are over could be a sign of something much more serious, and potentially even life-threatening.

Liver and heart problems can sometimes result in an excessive buildup of fluids, which begins at the feet and moves up the legs. If you see these signs, usually accompanied by other symptoms, you may need to get checked out. In other cases, however, swollen ankles are far less serious.

Pregnant women experience these all the time, particularly those that are farther along in their term, as the increased weight necessitates more fluid buildup. But while some swelling is common, sudden and excessive swelling is not, and could be a sign of preeclampsia, which accompanies high blood pressure and usually comes about after the 20th week.

Lymphedema is another potentially serious condition where the absence of lymph nodes, or a problem with nodes, can inhibit fluid transmission, causing the ankles to swell. This is most common in cancer patients or those who have undergone radiation therapy and is worth mentioning to your doctor.

Other potential issues that can bring about swollen ankles are infections, a weakened vein system, or blood clots. Of course, swollen ankles could also simply be the side effects of a new medication, or caused by an injury to the foot or ankle. Regardless, if you notice your ankles starting to increase in size, get it checked out by your primary care physician.

Provided that you get the OK from your doctor and there’s nothing else wrong except for swollen ankles themselves, there are several things you can do to either reduce the symptoms or prevent them from occurring altogether. Wearing compression socks are one of the easiest ways to reduce swelling, as they keep the skin tight and balanced, reducing the possibility that fluid can get stopped at a pinch point along the way.

Epsom salt is another alternative that many people turn to in order to prevent swollen ankles from occurring. Simply soak your feet and ankles for 15-20 minutes in a cool, Epsom-salt bath to relieve the pain. Alternatively, you can also try taking 200 to 400g magnesium supplements daily in order to decrease the amount of water you may be retaining, which helps with pain.

As with any new type of medication or supplement, it’s best to ask your doctor first to make sure it won’t complicate other issues. One of the best things you can do to prevent swelling in the first place is to get a regular amount of exercise.

Since fluid builds up due to a more stagnant flow, keeping your body active and moving will help reduce the pressure on your vascular system. Moreover, a focus on exercise will also further encourage weight loss, which can reduce swelling as well.

One extra thing you can do is to elevate your feet every night for an hour or so, either against the wall or on a raised ottoman. Learning various yoga poses could be a fun way to implement this elevation into your normal routine.

The complications that can arise from swollen ankles can be numerous, primarily due to the decreased level of blood flow through the body. Further issues can range anywhere from increased swelling in other places, a redness or gentle warmth, chest pain that can last anywhere from sixty seconds to several minutes, fainting spells or dizziness, and outright confusion.

The decreased blood flow results in lower oxygen levels to all parts of the body as well, so you could feel chest pain similar to what one would have if they are experiencing a heart attack.

Complications from swollen ankles are not normally fatal, but if left untreated, they can cause problems in other parts of the body that could be very serious. If you’re at all worried about the symptoms you are experiencing as a result of swollen ankles, consult a physician.

The remedies for swollen feet as described below are not a substitute for a licensed medical professional, and the key in any situation is early detection. If you experience any of the symptoms described above, particularly those that deal with the heart and head, could have secondary issues that are tough to diagnose, and could extend further than simple ankle swelling and pain.

Regardless, if you see swelling that is sudden and severe, it’s best to get it checked out. Though some remedies for swollen feet can work if applied properly, if the swelling is as a result of some major trauma, then you should also seek medical attention immediately.

For instance, if you have recently been in a car accident or suffered from a fall, internal clotting can build up on the site of the injury and travel to other areas. The same goes if you’ve suffered a sports injury recently. Moreover, if your swelling is localized, and only occurs in one leg and noticeably painful as compared to the other side, or comes alongside pale skin that feels cool to the touch, that could indicate a decrease in blood flow.

Once you’ve made your appointment, it is vital to rule out any other possible alternatives to the swelling. Elevate your legs by putting a pillow underneath them when you’re lying down, try to restrict the amount of salt in your diet, utilize compression stockings and take frequent breaks when standing or walking for prolonged periods of time. Unless ordered to by a doctor, do not stop taking any over-the-counter or prescriptions medications, as that can have drastic side effects.

Despite these issues, most ankle swelling and pain can be remedied by some at-home methods, and, outside of some general stiffness and loss of mobility, are generally harmless. If you’ve definitely concluded that your ankle issues are not as a result of anything serious, try these swollen ankles remedies that should ease the symptoms.


It may look and sound silly, but wrapping your ankles in cool green cabbage leaves can absorb a lot of the excess fluid in that area, which will help alleviate pain. To start, leave a few white or green leaves in the freezer until they’re cold but still able to be bent, and wrap your feet in them while elevated for about 30 minutes.

Mustard Oil

Mustard Oil can be found at most major department and grocery stores for relatively cheap and can provide quick relief for your achy feet. First, warm up the oil for a couple minutes, and then apply it to the swollen foot. Massage the oil into the skin for about five minutes, while working your way up from the foot to the ankle.

Lecithin Seeds

If you suffer from swollen ankles during pregnancy, you will most likely be limited to what you can and can’t do to help with the pain. Lecithin seeds are one of those rare swollen ankle remedies that you can, however.

Take the usual doctor-recommended dosage regularly for a few months, and you should start to see the swelling decrease.

Elevation and Cold

Since your swollen ankles are as a result of excess fluid, one of the best things you can do immediately is to elevate the limb and put a cold compress on it. The combination of height and temperature difference will force the fluid back towards your heart, and keep more than is necessary from returning back to the foot.

This remedy is particularly effective if you’ve injured the ankle or foot, especially if you do it quickly after the incident.


Since it is composed of about 90% water, cucumbers are a perfect healthy snack to help lose weight and take stress off of your joints. Furthermore, it is also a diuretic, which means that it can help with fluid retention.

Slice off a piece of cucumber and put it in a glass of cool water, and you not only will be fighting weight gain but also will load your body up with vitamin C, which can help against a host of other possible ailments.

Alternatively, tie a slice to your foot to quickly absorb excess fluid.

Magnesium Sulfate

Another diuretic that can be used to treat weight gain is magnesium sulfate, which blocks sodium from re-entering the kidneys and increases urine production, aiding in fluid retention.

The decreased swelling will also help stave off any of the effects of edema, which can be problematic in other parts of the body.

Corn Cob Hair

The hair on corn cobs also called “silk,” can help stimulate urination to get rid of excess fluid around the ankles.

Silk is rich in potassium, which means as the body is ridding itself of fluid through urination, it is also restoring the nutrients it needs through corn silk, which will help fight off cramping and irregular heartbeats that come about as a result of low potassium levels.

Lemon Juice

Lemon water has been used for centuries as a way to help with muscle cramps, but it can also help flush out the toxins and fluid from your body, which will reduce swelling and pain, as well as inject the body with anti-inflammatories.

To start, simply mix two tablespoons of lemon juice into a glass of warm water, add a little raw honey for taste, and drink it a few times a day.

Rice Water

Although you can ingest rice water to help with swelling, one of the other ways you can use this to aid your ankles and feet is by applying it directly to the skin. Mix in a half-cup of rice water with one tablespoon of baking powder, and put it directly on the swollen areas. It will release the toxins within the skin, as well as stimulate your muscles.

Nettle Leaves

In some cases, herbal remedies can be just as strong, if not more so, than prescription drugs that are on the market. When a nettle leaf extract was compared side by side with frusemide, a prescription diuretic, the effects were almost identical.

Moreover, nettle leaves helped decrease blood pressure as well. To get this into your system, boil nettle leaves into a tea and drink often.

Barley Water

If you’re wondering how to stop swelling in your feet, especially during pregnancy, barley water could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Women have relied on this British beverage for centuries, and combine it with citrus fruit to help with the taste.

To prepare, simply boil washed pearl barley, strain it, and then pour it over citrus fruit into another drinking container. You can add sugar and fruit juice to taste, but many people swear by those elements by themselves.

Peppermint Oil

The essential oil craze is huge right now, and for good reason. Many people have found quick and effective relief from adding a few drops of peppermint oil to a pot of boiling water, and then dipping it into a cotton cloth and applying it directly to the skin.

Do this a few times a day, and you should feel a significant change in your swelling.

Cinnamon, Olive Oil, and Milk Combination

All three of these provide a bevy of health benefits on their own, but when combined into a paste, they can create a powerful anti-swelling mixture that helps reduce symptoms. Add a teaspoon of milk and a teaspoon of olive oil together, and put a pinch of cinnamon powder as well.

Apply the paste directly to the skin and let it sit for a while, and continue applying it daily until you notice a decreased inflammation.

Flax Seeds

These seeds are known for helping with a whole host of physical ailments, such as aiding with digestion, relieving toxins, and improving kidney function, as well as helping to reduce swelling in ankles and feet.

Put ground flax on a cereal or salad, or even just eat them by themselves.

Drink More Water

This one may sound counter-intuitive, but drinking water more regularly can help flush out the excess toxins and salts from your body that cause swelling in the first place. Although 8-10 glasses are considered the norm, you may consider adding even a few more, especially if you live in a hotter climate or are more active than others.

Feet Soak

Not only will a good foot bath prove to be an incredibly effective remedy for your feet, but it can also be an incredibly relaxing time.

In order to make the most of this, skip the hot water and move straight towards a chilled bath for about fifteen minutes, which will stimulate the muscles and skin around your ankles and help reduce the pain.

Epsom Salt

On the other side of the spectrum, fill up a tub or bucket of warm water, and add a half-cup of Epsom salt.

Many people rely on Epsom salt baths to ease achy joints and muscles, but by dipping just your feet in it, you can isolate the swollen areas and decrease the pain. Along with the swelling, you may notice your stress levels go down as well.


In addition to the herbal remedies, you can take, moving your ankle more regularly will help move the fluid around as well and decrease the swelling.

Rotate the ankle ten times every half hour, switching directions from clockwise and counterclockwise, and you should notice the pressure and pain that is on the ankle start to subside.

Vitamin E

Swelling, in general, can indicate a vitamin deficiency, but while vitamins B, C, and D, are all helpful, vitamin E has the fat-soluble nutrients that will aid your neurological system and reduce swelling and edema. High in antioxidants, vitamin E is found in olives, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, as well as in a liquid extract. You can either apply these combinations directly to the skin or take small doses of 3ml or less at a time.


Initially, this concoction will smell awful, but by boiling equal parts water and vinegar together and soaking a towel thoroughly with the mixture, you can provide a nice wrap that will reduce the swelling and ease the pain.

Apply this wrap for five minutes at a time, up to five times a day, and you should start to notice the symptoms decrease. If regular vinegar is not an option, you can substitute apple cider vinegar as well.

Molasses and Fennel Drink

If your swelling is caused by pregnancy, take a half tablespoon of molasses in a tablespoon of fennel seeds, and add them to a cup of boiling water. Steep it until the contents are reduced to half of the original quantity. If you drink this mixture 2 to 3 times a day, the swelling in your feet should go down.


Garlic is a relatively easy way to give your body the nutrients it needs to fight and reduce swelling. It has proven to be effective in taking away excess fluid from the body and minimizing pain associated with edema. Although eating one or two cloves a day is one way to take it, many people choose to take a garlic capsule or over-the-counter pill.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander seeds are seen by many as being one of the best ways to reduce swelling in your legs and feet, as well as increasing blood circulation and reducing pain. Simply boil about 100 grams of seeds in nine cups of water, heat it till it’s boiling, then simmer until the mixture is half gone. Strain it before it cools, and then drink it twice a day to help with the symptoms.

Dandelion Root Tea

Although you should avoid dandelion tea if you have gallbladder problems, dandelion tea is a fantastic natural diuretic that helps to reduce the amount of sodium that is in the body. It stops the re-absorption back into the blood from the kidneys and reduces swelling, inflammation, and other symptoms that come as a result of edema.

Put 1 teaspoon of fresh dandelion leaves in a cup of hot water, and cover it for 5-7 minutes, before straining. 2-3 cups of this tea a day should do the trick.

Parsley Tea

As mentioned with other diuretics, the purification of the bloodstream by encouraging constant urination is one of the best ways to remove excess fluid from the body, and parsley leaves help dramatically with this. Follow the 1:2 rule here: one teaspoon of parsley to two cups of water, and boil the mixture for about ten minutes before straining it.

Drink it first thing in the morning, and you should feel the effects all day.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are powerful natural remedies that have seen a resurgence in recent years, and many people swear by their healing properties. While most are perfectly harmless, there are a few that cannot be used during pregnancy, so double-check with your doctor before trying any of these swollen ankles remedies.

Two blends that work particularly well are lemongrass, grapefruit, and cypress, and also eucalyptus, peppermint, and lemon. Massage either one of those two blends directly onto the skin to help with swelling.

Sandalwood Oil

This is is another oil that can either be applied directly to the skin by itself or as part of a blend with other oils. Sandalwood works particularly well when added with lavender oils and rice water, and provides a nice soothing effect when massaged into the affected area.

The lavender soothes the symptoms and decreases swelling, while rice water helps improve circulation.

Lavender Bath

Lavender is another essential oil that works well by itself, but when added to a soothing foot bath, cannot only provide relief for the swollen ankles but help with relaxation as well.

Add five drops of lavender to a tablespoon of a carrier oil – oils that help dilute the potency of the oil before application – and add to a running bath. Alternatively, you can also add five drops of lavender to a cup of whole milk and pour that into your bath.


Circulation problems could simply be the result of muscles that are not active enough, and a simple yoga class could give you exactly the tools you need to reduce the swelling in your lower extremities.

If you’re brand new to the activity, consider taking a class or hiring a private instructor, but once you get the basics down, instructional videos or even apps can help continue the healing process.


Many of the essential oil tips and blends that are on this list already are utilized by massaging the liquid into your skin, but even without the oils, simply massaging the problem areas can help stimulate circulation and move the excess fluid out of the affected area.

If you can’t reach your lower extremities, treat yourself to a regular massage or have a partner/spouse do it for you. It doesn’t have to be every day, but regular massage can keep swollen ankles at bay.

Tonic Water Soak

If you’re wondering how to stop swelling your feet or ankles in a way that helps you relax at the same time, consider dipping your feet into a tonic water bath that is room-temperature.

The carbonation and quinine in tonic water can help reduce inflammation and help with swelling, as well as deal with the painful symptoms of swollen feet and ankles.

Rose Tea

Did you know that not only do roses look gorgeous around the house, but they can also be a powerful diuretic that stimulates urination, which cleanses the blood system, as well as reduces the amount of sodium that is reintroduced back into your system?

The flowers and leaves contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can treat swelling and increase circulation.

Cutting Out Salt and Smoking

Salt retains water, which leads to an excess of fluid that sits in your system. If you limit your salt intake, either by cutting out chips or minimizing heavily processed fast food, the swelling in your extremities should go down.

In addition to this, cutting out smoking is one of the best things you can do as well. Smoking stiffens the lining of your arteries and makes them more narrow, which makes it harder for blood to travel throughout your body.

Rock Salt Bath

While ingesting large amounts of salt can inhibit your blood flow and potentially cause blockages that result in swollen feet, soaking your feet in a lukewarm bath filled with rock salt can reduce the inflammation and swelling dramatically.

Be sure not to make the water too hot, however, as an increased temperature can actually make the swelling increase.


Not just a summertime snack, watermelons are composed of 92% water and act as a natural diuretic, increasing urination and removing sodium from your bloodstream.

Snacking on watermelon regularly is not only healthy, but also a great way to reduce the swelling in your feet as well. If you’re wondering how to reduce swelling in feet, it doesn’t get much more pleasant than this.


Teas are generally regarded as powerful antioxidants, and flaxseed, one of the most powerful natural compounds in general, is no exception. To make this tea, simply add eight tablespoons of flaxseed to two liters of water, bring to a boil, and then allow t simmer for fifteen minutes.

After that, cover the mixture and leave it on the stove for another hour, and then add juice from two lemons. This should make enough for a few cups; drink two a day for a couple weeks, or until the swelling starts to go down.

Do’s and Don’ts

After you decide to treat your swollen ankles at home, it’s important to follow a few general do’s and don’t’s, such as:

  • Do consult a doctor before trying any remedies, especially if they could interfere with other health conditions you may also have. Ask your doctor if these remedies will conflict with any medication you’re currently taking as well.
  • Don’t ignore prolonged swelling. Unless you’re pregnant, swollen ankles and feet that stay swollen could be a sign of an underlying problem. It’s best to get it checked out before it becomes worse.
  • Do use as natural of ingredients as you can. Processed versions of these can strip the items of their natural healing abilities, so look for these in organic or health food stores, if possible.
  • Don’t mix several remedies at once. While adding a few to your repertoire is not a big deal, adding multiple home remedies can have adverse effects and possibly throw your body into a slight imbalance.


If you’re wondering how to reduce swelling in feet, this list should provide a nice introduction to the subject, and give you some ideas on how to get started. Many of these ideas are relatively inexpensive, but when utilized properly, can have a profound impact on your health, even after the swelling goes down.

Our bodies are amazing machines, capable of remarkable powers of healing if we simply let it operate. That being said, you should never use any of these as a substitute for sound medical advice. Swollen ankles may be nothing, but they could also be indicative of a bigger problem, potentially a fatal one.

For that reason, consult your doctor before, during, and after utilizing these home remedies to ensure they are having their desired effect, as well as not causing other issues. A proper diet and regular amount of exercise are some of the best things you can do for your body, especially if you’re suffering from swollen ankles.

Keeping your body hydrated and active will make sure the fluid is flowing normally throughout your body, as well as protect against any other symptoms. These remedies, while providing health benefits, also provide a soothing effect as well, so in addition to helping with the swelling your extremities, you should notice a significant increase in your relaxation as well.

Categories: Natural Remedies

About Author

Lizzie Wendel is a professional health blogger with years of experience writing in the wellness industry. For over a decade she has been an active voice, promoting the use of alternative medicine to help combat health-related issues and put to rest the negative associations of alternative medicine.

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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