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Tips and home remedies for water retention in the legs
If the feet, ankles or lower legs are swollen and painful, the reason for this is usually water in the legs. This is particularly common in warm temperatures, during pregnancy or due to a lack of exercise. As long as there are no serious causes such as kidney, heart or liver diseases due to water retention (edema), there are various home remedies that can alleviate the symptoms. These are used with the aim of stimulating and improving the outflow from the legs.
Effective exercises with water in the legs
Elevating in the evening is one of the simplest and most well-known methods for water in the legs. It is quite unknown that the negative pressure is an important mechanism for the discharge, which is generated by the alternation of inhalation and exhalation. This means that deep breathing in the abdomen and a pronounced alternation between inhalation and exhalation can also influence the outflow.
A very simple measure is the so-called pendulum breathing, which is similarly used in the exercises according to Feldenkrais: You simply breathe once in the breastbone and pull in the stomach, deliberately letting go when exhaling and exhaling passively. The next time you breathe in, you breathe into your abdomen so that it bulges outwards and then again into your breastbone the next time. These steps are repeated several times in succession.
In many cases, movement exercises of the feet are an effective measure for water retention. It can be helpful to alternately stretch and tighten your feet or topple from tiptoe to the heels to stimulate the pump mechanics of the feet.
Water applications stimulate the metabolism
In the area of physical therapy, active exercise and swimming are recommended. Daily cold whole washes, which can be done with a damp sponge or coarse linen, stimulate the metabolism and blood circulation. The entire body is quickly rubbed off with even pressure and then rubbed dry with a terry towel.
Kneipp cures in your own bathroom, for example. in the form of cold partial castings on the legs. It should be noted here that the casting always begins at the point furthest from the heart. In the case of thigh casting, this means, for example, from the heel to the buttocks, then back again. Then from the back of the foot to the groin and back again. The shower should work without a shower function and the distance between the shower head and leg should not be more than 10 cm.
Schüssler salts to regulate the water balance
From the arsenal of Schüssler salts, sodium chloratum no. 8 a remedy that is used in the legs when there is water retention - alone or alternating daily with sodium sulfuricum No. 10 - can be used. The two sodium compounds are said to regulate the water balance and drain the body, but their effects have not been scientifically proven.
Medicinal plants against water retention
The best known remedy is certainly the horse chestnut, which is used both internally and externally. The active ingredient aescin, which is contained in small quantities, is believed to have an anti-edema effect. Even in supermarket discounters, there are now horse chestnut linens to buy.
Juniper and stone clover are somewhat less known remedies for thick legs. Stone clover is able to improve lymph flow and stimulates venous reflux. This can alleviate symptoms such as heaviness and swelling in the legs.
The effect of juniper berries, on the other hand, is based more on increased urine output and the associated reduction in water retention. It is usually part of drainage teas, the recipes of which often include nettle, birch leaves or goldenrod. Such tea blends are available in pharmacies, but should not be taken for more than a few days without medical supervision.
Proper nutrition with water in the legs
Nutrition tips that recommend eating permanently draining foods such as rice or asparagus and stopping salt consumption are not without controversy and should be given under professional guidance. In any case, it is advisable to switch to a wholesome and vitamin-rich diet with fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.
For example, celery, cucumber, sauerkraut, potatoes and pumpkin are well suited. Fruits that have a draining effect are primarily berry fruits such as raspberries or currants, grapes and watermelons. These help to reduce water in the legs and provide the body with many valuable vitamins.
It is important to drink enough at all times, because even if it sounds strange: if you drink too little water, it favors water retention. Our body needs enough fluid to flush out toxins and reduce swollen feet and legs.
A tea made from medicinal herbs can help reduce edema.Recipe for a drainage tea
- Use chamomile, dandelion leaves, clover and garden rhombus in equal parts
- Pour boiling water over two teaspoons of the mixture
- After 10 minutes of rest, the tea is strained
- Drink two cups a day in small sips
Get medical advice for frequent water retention
Swollen legs can have a variety of causes. It is often due to high temperatures, side effects of certain medications, poor nutrition, lack of exercise or one-sided stress (e.g. standing for hours) that the water builds up in the legs.
In some cases, however, an acute illness leads to the swelling. Circulatory disorders, venous insufficiency or infection (erysipelas) are possible. If both legs are affected, this can indicate, for example, an underactive thyroid, liver disease, diabetes, heart or kidney weakness.
Anyone who has stubborn legs in the evening should therefore always seek medical advice. The same applies if the legs swell again and again during the day and / or changes or discolourations of the skin are recognizable. Absolute caution should be exercised if the swelling suddenly occurs, as this can mean, for example, deep venous thrombosis or an allergic reaction. (tf, jvs, nr)
Editor's note: An older version of this article said that an Epsom salt bath helps flush out toxins and excess fluid from the body. However, this statement is not sufficiently verifiable and we have therefore removed the note.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Social Science Nina Reese, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Lyall A. J. Higginson: Edema, MSD Manual, (accessed August 21, 2019), MSD
- Margit Müller-Frahling: Schüßler salts in practice. Fundamentals and areas of activity of minerals according to Dr. Schuessler; Deutsche Apotheker-Zeitung (DAZ online), edition 13/2008, Deutsche Apotheker-Zeitung online
- Bierbach, Elvira (ed.): Naturopathic practice today. Textbook and atlas. Elsevier GmbH, Urban & Fischer Verlag, Munich, 4th edition 2009.
- Bernhard Uehleke, Hans-Dieter Hentschel: The great Kneipp health book: More than just treading water: Simply healthy with the 5 treatment methods, TRIAS; Edition: 5 (February 6, 2019)