Pregnancy, diet and hormonal changes can all make your feet swell up. Puffy, swollen feet not only look odd, but they can also make it difficult to wear shoes or socks.
The swelling can interfere with your ability to walk, run or go through your daily activities.
Can essential oils play a part in healing your swollen feet? In this article, we’ll take a look at the causes of edema (swelling), provide an overview of essential oils and give you suggestions on incorporating these oils into your treatment plan.
What Causes Feet to Swell?
Swelling in the feet is caused by an accumulation of fluid in your body’s tissues. There are several reasons that your body is unable to expel this excess fluid.
- Standing or sitting in one position for hours can lead to swelling or edema.
- Certain medications such as steroids, anti-inflammatories, and diabetes medications can cause fluid to accumulate.
- Pregnant women frequently suffer from swollen feet.
- Eating too much salt can lead to swelling.
- Hormonal changes can lead to fluid retention.
Is it Serious?
Swollen feet are usually not serious, but they can be painful. Untreated edema can lead to complications such as infections and skin problems.
In addition, persistent swelling could be the sign of a serious underlying medical condition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, swollen feet and legs could mean you have:
- Congestive heart failure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Kidney failure
- Weak or damaged veins in your legs
- Damaged lymphatic system
You should definitely consult a doctor if the swelling does not go away after a few days. If you have sudden swelling in one leg accompanied by calf pain, and you have been sitting for several hours, contact a doctor immediately.
You could have DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which is a blood clot.
How Do You Treat Swollen Feet?
In most cases, the swelling will go away if you follow these tips for at-home care.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing, socks or shoes.
- Cut down on your salt intake.
- If you’re going to be sitting or standing in one position for a long time, take frequent quick breaks to move around.
- Use salt baths to soak your feet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Whenever possible, keep your feet elevated.
In more serious cases, your doctor might prescribe diuretics to help your body flush out the fluids. If the swelling is due to a medical condition, your doctor will develop a treatment plan for that.
You can use essential oils in conjunction with your home remedies and your doctor’s recommendations. You’ll speed your healing and lift your mood.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are the distilled spirits of herbs and plants. Depending on the plant, the oil may come from the seed, fruit, leaf or root.
Essential oils are also known as volatile aromatics. They emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but in such small quantities that they are not dangerous.
Essential oils are strong and intensely fragranced. They are used to make perfume and other cosmetics. They are also used in home scenting products like incense, candles, wax melts, and diffusers.
How Should You Use Essential Oils?
The most common way to use essential oils is as aromatherapy. This is the theory that inhaling and smelling certain scents will improve your mood and overall mental health.
Some people simply smell the open bottle, but there are other ways to incorporate these oils into your daily routine.
- Place a few drops in a diffuser or humidifier.
- Put a few drops in shallow bowls and place them around the room.
- Mix the oil with a carrier oil such as almond oil or coconut oil and use this as a moisturizer.
- Soak a cotton ball with the oil and place the cotton ball in your pocket or purse.
- Add a few drops to your bathwater.
Essential Oils Have a Place in Alternative Medicine
Herbal and natural remedies, including essential oils, have been used for centuries. They appear in writings by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, who concocted medicines and beauty treatments from them.
Today, essential oils and other natural treatments are frequently prescribed by doctors in Canada, Europe, Japan, and India.
In the U.S., doctors have only recently begun exploring the benefits of aromatherapy. Most of the people who promote their use are practitioners of alternative or holistic medicine.
According to the University of Minnesota, Despite their longstanding status in many countries, there are few controlled research studies that verify their effectiveness.
With that said, the few studies that exist tend to confirm the benefits of using aromatherapy.
For instance, a 2009 hospital study found that patients treated with essential oils were far less anxious about their upcoming surgery.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, A 2016 review of the scientific literature determined that aromatherapy helped patients cope better with pain.
In the 12 studies surveyed, aromatherapy was used in conjunction with other pain-management techniques.
As the researchers concluded, “The findings of this study indicate that aromatherapy can successfully treat pain when combined with conventional treatments.”
Other studies have suggested that essential oils helped people concentrate and retain information.
Which Oils Work for Which Conditions?
Following are some of the more popular and widely prescribed essential oils. Each has specific benefits and uses.
All essential oils can be used in massage treatments, but some are better for swelling than others.
Cinnamon has been proven to help lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and overall improve blood flow.
Cinnamon oil also helps other essential oils to improve their efficacy, so it’s an excellent choice in blends. Cinnamon is a natural air freshener with a pleasing scent.
Eucalyptus is a popular additive to a cough and cold treatments. Eucalyptus oil is a powerful immune booster that can help you clear a sore throat, reduce fever and break up congestion. Eucalyptus is an excellent rub for tired, swollen muscles.
Derived from the Boswellia serrata tree that is native to India, frankincense has been a popular essential oil for centuries.
Frankincense is used to create a sense of calm and well-being. It has been used as an antidepressant and to soothe anxiety.
This fragrant essential oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Geranium also boosts circulation and improves skin texture.
Chamomile is frequently prescribed to treat inflammation. German chamomile contains a compound called azulene, which is used in medical and beauty treatments to soothe skin and reduce swelling.
You might know juniper as the main ingredient in gin. As an essential oil, it is excellent at reducing cramping and swelling from all causes. It is also a diuretic, making it very helpful at reducing fluid accumulation.
Lavender is known as a sleep aid, for good reason. Studies have found that people exposed to the scent of lavender essential oil were able to sleep well even after consuming caffeine shortly before bedtime.
Lemon essential oil is an instant mood lifter and energizer. Lemon works extremely well to reduce swelling.
It is also excellent for improving gastric problems like diarrhea and is effective against nausea.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, A 2016 study on pregnant women found that “Lemon scent can be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.”
Peppermint is an energizing essential oil. Combined with lemon and eucalyptus, it makes a powerful blend that can help fight cold symptoms.
Peppermint has been shown to be highly effective at treating headaches and muscle aches.
Note These Cautions When Using Essential Oils
They’re very strong
Essential oils are highly concentrated. In large doses, they can be irritating. Always use a tiny amount and proceed carefully when inhaling directly from the bottle.
Note this special warning for men
Certain essential oils such as lavender and tea tree oil are high in female hormones. According to Livestrong, Studies have found that lavender is an “endocrine disruptor” that mimics female hormones.
Boys and men who frequently used lavender developed gynecomastia, otherwise known as male breast tissue.
Citrus can make you sensitive
Certain citrus essential oils can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you’re using lemon or orange essential oils, it’s wise to shield yourself from the sun’s rays when you go outdoors.
Keep essential oils away from your pets
There is a current fad for essential oils in pet products. But most veterinarians and animal health experts warn that essential oils are toxic to animals. Don’t use them on your pets and don’t let your pets eat or smell them.
Which Essential Oils Will Work on Your Swollen Feet?
When using essential oils, you get more benefit if you blend two or three. Here are some suggested blends that will soothe your feet and help them get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Lemon, Grapefruit, and Eucalyptus
This blend will make your feet feel bright and energized. All three of these oils have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
This blend will also soothe any itching or burning that you might feel in your feet.
German Chamomile and Geranium
German chamomile is excellent at reducing inflammation and works great on its own. Adding geranium will help soothe the skin. This blend creates a soothing, calming fragrance.
Juniper, Lemongrass, and Vetiver
Juniper has been used to treat swelling in women who are pregnant or menopausal. Don’t worry, it works just as well on men.
Lemongrass is frequently used to treat muscle aches. Vetiver is highly prized as a fragrance ingredient for its clean, woodsy fragrance. It is also used to soothe swollen skin and to induce calm.
Cinnamon, German Chamomile and Juniper
Adding cinnamon will boost the anti-inflammatory properties of the other essential oils. These three oils will create a fresh, vibrant fragrance that will allow you to relax without getting sleepy.
How to Use Essential Oils on Your Swollen Feet
You can mix a simple concoction and rub it into your skin for soothing essential oil treatment. Try this after a foot soak or just before bedtime.
- Obtain a bottle of carrier oil such as coconut, jojoba, shea or almond.
- Melt the carrier oil by rubbing it into your hands until it liquefies.
- Add two or three drops of your essential oil or essential oil blend.
- If you prefer, you can mix all of this in a small container.
- Rub the oil mixture gently into your swollen feet, soles, and ankles.
Alternatively, try an essential oil foot soak.
- Fill the bath or foot bath with warm water.
- Add about six drops of the essential oil blend.
- Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes Don’t soak too long as this can lead to dry skin and other problems.
Should You Use Essential Oils on Your Swollen Feet?
Using essential oils to massage your swollen feet will help them feel better and soothe your mood.
According to Mayo Clinic, Massage is often recommended as an at-home remedy to relieve edema. With essential oils, massage is easier and more enjoyable. It can also be more effective.
Aromatherapy has not been proven in a large number of scientific studies, but there is some evidence to suggest that it can be a useful adjunct to other treatments.
You won’t hurt yourself by adding essential oils to your treatment regimen and you may gain some real, measurable benefits.
Use caution when selecting essential oils. Use small amounts at a time. Keep them away from pets and children. If you’re a man, don’t use lavender essential oils.
Follow these guidelines and you may well find that essential oils can help you get your feet back to their normal shape and size.