Edema, or swelling on the top of the feet and around the ankles is the result of accumulation of fluid in fatty tissue under the skin. The tissue is in effect bloated, making your skin feel tight. When pressed with a finger tip, the edema forms an impression that persists for a while. If you notice your feet are frequently swollen, don't hesitate to see a physician. One cause of increased edema is a decline in the strength of the heart: water can no longer be eliminated as quickly and collects in the tissues of the feet. Kidney disease, as well as bacterial toxins, leaky capillary walls and hormonal changes, can also result in excess water retention. Obesity, over exertion, too much salt in the diet and inappropriate footwear are other causes of edema. Serious disorders, even food allergies, should be ruled out before choosing from a number of natural remedies. Among them, reflexology, a foot massage technique, has been found successful in the treatment of edema.
Raise your feet for relief
If you suffer from swollen feet, take care to notice at what time during the day or night your feet swell or feel especially uncomfortable. To check if you have excess fluid, put pressure on a spot near your ankle and see if the impression lasts. For quick relief, raise your feet higher than the heart for 20 min. or more every few hours throughout the day. Also sleep with your feet elevated.
What you can do?
You can prevent swollen feet by eating a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and low in salt, thereby promoting digestion as well. Watch your weight and if possible, avoid prolonged periods of standing. Always wear comfortable, roomy shoes. To relieve the swelling, try footbaths, teas and massages that include medicinal herbs.
Footbaths regulate the water balance
By immersing your feet in alternating hot and cold water, you can improve circulation. First, soak your feet in a tub for 10 minutes with the hottest water you can comfortably tolerate. Then immerse them briefly in a separate tub of ice-cold water for just 30 secs. Repeat the cycle several times, ending with the cold bath.
Herb tincture promote circulation
Alcoholic extracts of herbs, such as ginkgo, may reduce swelling by promoting circulation. Ginkgo also strengthens the heart and may help those with swelling and congestion in the tissues due to weak heart action.
Massages eliminate water
Massage stimulates lymphatic circulation, which decreases swelling. Massage your feet and lower legs with peppermint lotion, from your toes to your calf, exercising gentle pressure with your fingertips. This will help work water out of the tissue.
Use the soles of your bare feet to roll a rubber ball or tennis ball in circular movements. This will encourage circulation and strengthen muscles.
A diet for pregnant women
Edema in pregnant women is frequently the result of poor nutrition and a rise in estrogen levels. A diet containing sufficient protein from milk, meat and fish or, even better, from beans, nuts and soy and grain products will help stimulate the kidneys to excrete urine and thereby reduce swelling significantly.
Cleavers tincture as a diuretic
Cleavers (Galium aparine), or bedstraw, is a mild diuretic herb that assists the kidneys in maintaining proper fluid balance. To make a tincture, gather fresh cleavers in the summer (or purchase through a health food store or mail order catalogue). Run the herbs through a blender with enough grain alcohol to make the blades run smoothly. Pour the mixture into a glass jar, shaking it daily for 2 weeks. Store it away from the sun, ensuring that the herbs are covered with alcohol so they will mold. Filter the blend through muslin or a coffee filter and store in a dropper bottle. Take 1-2 full drops of tincture by mouth 2-5 times a day.
Horse-chestnut cream for veins
Components contained in horse chestnut may help reduce swelling in the veins. Therefore, preparations containing horse-chestnut extract are appropriate for topical use on varicose veins.
Dandelion tea as a diuretic
For a gentle stimulant, simmer 1 tsp. of dried dandelion root in 1 cup of water for 15 min. drink 1 cup 3 times daily.
Nettle tea to detoxify
Pour ½ cup of boiling water over 1 tbsp. of dried nettle leaves; steep for about 15 min. drink 1 cup 3 times daily.