Swollen Legs, Ankles and Feet: Causes and Proven Remedies (Including Parsley Tea Recipe)

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Swollen Ankles, Legs and Feet

Swollen ankles, legs, and feet cause discomfort and even pain for many people. If you are one of these people who suffer from puffiness around your ankles, you probably wonder what you can do to reduce the ankle swelling and ease discomfort.

Swelling in the ankles, legs, and feet is caused by an accumulation of fluid around the base of your legs. This swelling (called edema) can be caused by something as simple as being on your feet or sitting down for too long. You may also feel that the area around the base of your legs swells and becomes puffy in hot weather.

However, sometimes fluid can build up and cause swelling around the ankles, legs, and feet due to an underlying serious health condition like problems with your kidneys, heart, or blood circulation. Some medications can also cause a buildup of fluid in your body resulting in swollen ankles and feet. Also, if one leg looks swollen, while the other one appears normal, see a doctor, as this unevenness could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis.


It is important to tell the difference between swollen ankles caused by “everyday” activities, and edema that requires treatment by a doctor. Generally, harmless ankle and leg swelling occurs on both legs and doesn’t have other ominous symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or bluish skin (cyanosis).

In this article, we will look at some of the best home remedies for swollen ankles. Because treatment depends on the underlying cause of leg edema, we will also look at the reasons for fluid retention that causes leg swelling. This will help you know if you should see a doctor for swollen ankles or swollen feet and legs.

At the end of the article you will find a recipe for parsley tea to reduce swollen ankles and feet.

What Causes Ankles, Legs, and Feet to Swell

Swollen ankles and swollen feet occur because of fluid retention around the base of your leg. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, certain conditions can cause fluid to leak from capillaries which then builds up in the surrounding tissues.1

Here are some common reasons for ankle, leg, and feet swelling.

Standing or sitting for too long

One of the most common reasons for swelling around the ankles is standing or sitting for too long. According to doctors from the Cleveland Clinic, edema around the feet and ankles happens because gravity pulls fluid down to your feet. This can result in puffiness around your ankles that have the appearance of shiny skin. You may also notice that the skin retains a dimple when pressed.2

Too much salt in your diet

Having too much salt in your diet can cause edema because it makes it harder for your body to get rid of excess fluid. This fluid usually builds up around your ankles and feet causing swelling and puffiness.


According to Dr. John Chuna on MedicineNet, the kidneys are responsible for removing salt from your body. If your kidneys aren’t working properly, then more salt will be retained in the body and this will cause edema.3


Suffering from swollen ankles, feet, and legs is something that happens to most women who are pregnant. According to the American Pregnancy Association, swelling around the ankles, feet, and hands is normal during pregnancy. Other factors like hot weather, standing for long periods of time, or not being physically active can all increase swelling around your feet when you’re pregnant.4

While some swelling around the base of your legs is normal during pregnancy, doctors from the Mayo Clinic warn that sudden swelling around your ankles and hands can be a sign of preeclampsia.5

Hot weather

You may find that your ankles, feet, and bottom part of your legs swell more during hot weather. Doctors say that the body is less efficient at removing fluid from tissues when the weather is hot. 6

Varicose veins

Swollen ankles, feet, and legs are often a complication of varicose veins. The classic symptom of varicose veins is knotted bluish veins on your legs or spider veins.

The journal Seminars in Interventional Radiology says that varicose veins often cause ankle edema which may get worse as the day goes on. If you experience severe swelling in the ankles, you should see a doctor for a proper evaluation.7

Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious circulatory problem that may cause ankle swelling in just one leg. A common cause of DVT is long-haul air travel. Dr. Sheldon Sheps from the Mayo Clinic says that short-term foot swelling is usually not a serious problem. However, if the swelling in and around your ankles persists long after your flight and it is painful, you should visit your doctor promptly.8

Serious medical conditions that cause edema

There are more serious medical conditions that cause foot edema and ankle swelling. Dr. Suzanne R. Steinbaum on WebMD says that some of the reasons for swollen ankles that requires medical supervision are: 9

Heart disease. When the heart can’t pump enough blood around your body, fluid can build up in your legs, lungs, and abdomen.

Liver disease. Liver disease causes problems with the liver function that can lead to swelling in the abdomen and legs.

Kidney disease. When your kidney function slows down, more fluid is retained in the body. This can even lead to whole body edema.

Home Remedies for Swollen Ankles, Legs, and Feet

There are many effective home remedies to reduce swelling in your ankles, legs, and feet. These natural methods can help to relieve occasional bouts of leg swelling and give you welcome relief from the discomfort that ankle edema causes.

Please remember, that if you have any chronic leg swelling or you have swelling in only one leg that is accompanied with pain, you should see your doctor for proper medical advice.


1. Exercise

Regular physical exercise is a great way to stimulate your blood circulation and stop fluid retention in your legs and ankles. For example, swimming is a great way to take pressure off your feet and, at the same time, boost your circulation.

The journal International Archives of Medicine reported that exercising was an efficient way to reduce lower limb edema. This can help reduce ankle swelling if you have a sedentary lifestyle or if your swollen feet and ankles are due to aging.10

2. Raise your legs

Another effective way to reduce fluid retention in your legs and ankles is to raise your legs above the level of your heart.

For example, the journal Angiology reported that raised-leg exercises helped many elderly people reduce the size of their swollen ankles. They exercised for 20 minutes, 3 times a day and results were seen within a 4-week period.11

One easy way to keep your legs raised for an extended period of time to reduce leg edema is to sleep on your back with a pillow under your ankles. This will help to drain excess fluid that has built up around your ankles and feet.

3. Walk around

If you have swollen ankles and feet from standing or sitting for too long, you should get up every so often and walk around. This helps to stimulate your circulation and prevent too much fluid accumulating in your ankles.

The International Journal of Vascular Medicine reported that walking helps to reduce the volume of fluid that builds up in the base of the leg. The researchers found that walking for 50 minutes in the afternoon can help reduce edema and leg pain during the day. The results were enhanced by wearing compression socks.12

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic also recommend that to prevent fluid retention and ankle swelling you shouldn’t sit or stand in one place for too long without moving.2

4. Compression socks

Compression stockings can help to reduce foot swelling if you have to sit or stand for long periods of time. In fact, compression socks help also to prevent swollen ankles and feet and can make going about your daily activities much easier. Compression stockings help to get rid of the symptoms of fluid retention in the legs by forcing the blood and excess fluid back up the body.

In fact, the journal Dermatologic Surgery published a study showing the effectiveness of compression stockings if you have to sit for long periods of time. It was found that the compression stockings helped to reduce ankle and leg size in the evening and were recommended for people who have to sit or stand for their job.13

Compression stocking can be useful to prevent leg and ankle swelling if you are pregnant or have to fly a long distance.

5. Foot massage

To help reduce ankle and foot swelling while you are pregnant, you can try a relaxing foot massage. Massage therapy is a great way to naturally stimulate circulation and help reduce the signs and symptoms of edema.

The International Journal of Nursing Practice reported that foot massage helps to remove a buildup of fluid in the lower-leg area. In the study, women who were pregnant received foot massages for 20 minutes a day for 5 days. This was found to decrease swelling in the legs and ankles naturally.14

You can do your own foot massage or have someone do it for you. This will not only help get rid of ankle swelling but also help relax you and act as a natural stress reliever.


6. Reduce salt intake

If you find that your ankles and legs are swollen, you should reduce your salt intake to prevent accumulation of fluid. Your body needs a little salt for it to function properly, but too much salt can have a detrimental effect on your heart, kidney, and cardiovascular system.

Doctors from the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend reducing salt intake if you are getting treated for edema.15 In fact, the Cleveland Clinic says that reducing the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet helps to prevent a buildup of fluid in your legs, heart, and lungs.16

7. Stop smoking

To keep healthy, it’s important that you stop smoking now. Smoking can cause many health problems that lead to serious diseases like various cancers, heart disease, and lung disease. Quitting smoking will also improve your circulation and prevent hand, leg, and ankle edema.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that found that smoking increases the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a condition that affects blood flow in your body.17 According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, PAD usually affects blood flow to your legs.18

8. Soak in Epsom salts

Soaking in Epsom salts is a great way to relax and relieve aching muscles in your legs and feet. There is some anecdotal evidence that having a foot bath in Epsom salts could also relieve swelling in your ankles.

The British Medical Journal published comments from a retired nurse that used Epsom salt soaks to reduce leg swelling. The nurse reported that it is well-known that Epsom salts are an effective remedy for swollen feet. She used an Epsom salt bath to increase blood circulation and reduce discomfort in swollen legs caused by heart disease.19

To find out how to make a therapeutic foot bath with Epsom salt, please read my article on the benefits of Epsom salts for your feet.

Other Ways to reduce Swollen Ankles, Legs, and Feet

9. Drink plenty of water

We are all guilty of often not drinking enough fluids. By drinking water throughout the day, we hydrate our tissues and detox the body. Sodium and caffeine, which contribute to feet inflammation, get diluted if we water ourselves sufficiently. Eight to ten glasses a day should be the norm. So make sure you carry that water bottle with you. For added antioxidant value, squeeze some lemon or lime in or prepare your own flavored water.

10. Consume enough magnesium

Often feet inflammation, which can result in painful swelling, is connected to magnesium deficiency. Please read my article about magnesium deficiency in which you will find information about how to identify a magnesium deficiency and how to stay magnesium sufficient.

How To Make Parsley Tea for Swollen Ankles, Legs and Feet

Parsley looks great as a garnish, so many have forgotten that this beautiful plant can also be used in many other ways. Eating an abundance of parsley has always been equated to health and this herb is believed to protect from various diseases.


Not long ago, parsley tea was frequently used to treat different maladies. It is now being revived as a powerful herbal remedy. One of the conditions parsley can help with is leg edema or swollen legs.

Parsley Tea and Leg Swelling

Parsley is a known natural diuretic. It helps the body get rid of excess water and salts by improving kidney function and taking more water from the blood.

A study published in 2002 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, provided substantial evidence for the use of parsley as a powerful diuretic. The study was done on rats (humans and rats have the same basic physiology). Rats that were offered parsley seed extract to drink produced significantly more urine over a period of 24 hours compared to when they were drinking only water.

Scientists believe that this herb acts in a diuretic way by inhibiting the sodium and potassium ion pumps, influencing the process of osmosis and increasing the flow of urine.

Parsley is rich in potassium. A lot of the chemically produced diuretic drugs lower potassium levels in the body, which is their negative side effect. If you use the simple parsley, you avoid this adverse effect as body’s potassium supply is not depleted.

Parsley is also a powerful antioxidant and I’ve already mentioned it my article about the 9 amazing antioxidants for great health. Parsley is rich in vitamins A and C and is a good source of folic acid, which is one of the top 14 foods and nutrients that protect against cancer development.

Parsley Tea Recipe for Edema (Swollen Legs)

Dr. John R. Christopher, an authority in the field of herbalism, suggests drinking at least two quarts of strong parsley tea per day. The dose can be increased to a cup of tea every hour.

When making your tea, use the fresh light-green leaves, along with roots and seeds (if you can get them).

  1. Chop the leaves and roots
  2. Place approximately ¼ cup of parsley into an infusion basket.
  3. Pour over a cup of boiled water or submerge into a tea pot.
  4. Let it steep for 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the basket or strain the tea.

You can use honey and lemon to enhance the tea’s flavor (you can also use honey and lemon to transform your health).

Also, don’t forget to combine tea consumption with other techniques for swelling reduction, such as leg elevation. You can also use 10 other natural remedies for edema.

Important note: Before using parsley tea as a diuretic, you might want to consult your doctor, especially if there is an underlying health condition that needs to be considered or if you are pregnant. Parsley tea may stimulate uterine contractions and increase the risk of miscarriage if you have it in large amounts.

Swollen Ankles, Legs and Feet – When to See a Doctor

Usually, if your legs or ankles swell after standing a lot or sitting for extended periods of time, there is nothing to worry about. However, if swelling at the bottom part of either of your legs is accompanied by other symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend visiting a medical professional for leg or ankle swelling if it is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:20

  • Just one leg or ankle swells suddenly
  • You have chest pain and difficulty breathing
  • You have shortness of breath when laying down or engaging in physical activity
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • The swelling occurs suddenly for no apparent reason

Even if you think that leg swelling doesn’t have a serious underlying cause, it is still best to have a doctor check out any kind of swelling that causes you concern.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. MayoClinic. Edema.
  2. ClevelandClinic. Edema.
  3. MedicineNet. Does salt intake affect edema?
  4. AmericanPregnancy. Swelling during pregnancy.
  5. MayoClinic. Preeclampsia.
  6. BetterHealth. Fluid retention.
  7. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2005 Sep; 22(3): 162–168.
  8. MayoClinic. Edema.
  9. WebMD. Edema overview.
  10. Int Arch Med. 2009; 2: 18
  11. Angiology. 1995 Jan;46(1):19-25.
  12. Int J Vasc Med. 2015; 2015: 648074.
  13. Dermatol Surg. 2004 May;30(5):737-43; discussion 743.
  14. Int J Nurs Pract. 2010 Oct;16(5):454-60.
  15. AAFP. Treatment of edema.
  16. ClevelandClinic. Your sodium-controlled diet.
  17. JAMA. 2012;308(16):1660-1667.
  18. NHLBI. What is peripheral artery disease?
  19. BMJ. Simple risk-free reduction of pitting edema in congestive heart failure patients.
  20. MayoClinic. Leg swelling.

Healthy and Natural World