Remedies for swollen feet & ankles

Updated April 17, 2017

The old adage of RICE--rest, ice, compression and elevation--for swollen ankles and feet from an injury is a tried and true formula that works. However, swelling, also called oedema, can occur for other reasons too. The best remedy to solve the problem depends on the cause.

Alternative Remedies for Swelling

Experts have studied several flavonoids that effectively reduce swelling. Flavonoids are water-soluble plant pigments and are available in foods and in supplemental form. Coumarin and hydroxyethylrutoside are two flavonoids that reduce swelling. Coumarin has been effective for treating chronic lymphedema of the legs when the patient takes 400 milligrams per day, according to a study by Chang, Gan, Fu and Huang in Lymphology. You can find coumarin in dong quai, lavender, liquorice, strawberries, apricots, cherries, cinnamon and sweet clover. Use it only under the direction of a knowledgeable health care provider or physician. Common herbs used to treat oedema in the feet and ankles include butcher's broom, dandelion, stinging nettle, goldenrod, horse chestnut, goose grass (cleavers), uva ursi and parsley.
According to a 1996 study done by RV Cluzan on the treatment secondary lymphedema, 150 milligrams of butcher's broom taken two to three times a day relieves swelling.

Conventional Treatment

Traditional medicine suggests you should use NSAID--non-steroid anti-inflammatory medicine--like ibuprofen for swelling in feet and ankles resulting from injury. This type of swelling also warrants rest and elevation. However, frequent movement will help reduce swelling caused by water retention. Walk more frequently and avoid standing or sitting in one place for too long. Also, limit your salt intake if swelling is a problem. Dr. P. Ponce recommends no more than 2100 milligrams per day to reduce water retention and swelling. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to reduce swelling. Diuretics, commonly referred to as water pills, will help alleviate swelling caused by water retention. Common prescriptions include Lasix and HydroDIURIL. In certain circumstance, wearing elastic hosiery and compression socks can help swollen feet and ankles. Check with your health care provider to see if this type of treatment is appropriate for your type of oedema.


Drink plenty of water. While it might seem strange to consume more water to your body if it is already holding excess, there are benefits to drinking extra water. Drinking at least 1,892ml of water a day will help flush out toxins and waste that build up with oedema.
If your swelling is not from an injury, yoga, bicycle riding and water exercise are all excellent ways to encourage blood flow, reduce water retention and alleviate discomfort.


If any area of only one ankle or foot is swollen or red and painful and your temperature exceeds 37.8 degrees Celsius--38 degrees Celsius--or the pain is accompanied by a rash, you should be evaluated by your doctor for infection or inflammatory condition.

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About the Author

Beth Richards, a freelance writer since 2002, writes about health and draws from her 25 years as a licensed dispensing optician. She has authored several books, writes for national magazines including "Country Living" and "Organic Family" and is a health and wellness features writer for several publications. She is earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland.