Sprained Ankle: Herbal First Aid


One misstep, your foot turns under you and suddenly your ankle is screaming for attention. A sprained or twisted ankle shows its displeasure by exhibiting soreness and/or swelling around the outward protruding ankle bone. The ligaments have been pulled and walking becomes difficult. Sprains can vary in degree of injury, but the treatment is often the same. Elevate the foot and apply a cold compress until the swelling goes down. Herbs are a natural choice to help with the healing process.

Herbal Allies for Treatment of Sprained Ankles

Arnica is a popular herb in the world of sports medicine. It’s for external use as a cream, ointment, salve, oil, or tincture. Homeopathic arnica is also available in tablets or pellets for internal support to help heal sprains and sore muscles. For instructions on making your own healing salve, see the How-to section of this site. Choose your own salve recipe in the remedy section of the recipe listing.

Witch Hazel not only reduces swelling but acts as a powerful astringent; it prevents the bruising that can accompany a twisted ankle. Witch Hazel may be applied externally in tincture form or as the extract commonly found on drug store shelves.

Lavender is excellent for treating painful swelling. The essential oil is easy to pop in a first aid kit for aches and pains. It may be applied directly to a tender area but keep the undiluted essential oil away from open cuts or wounds. Lavender is also relaxing and helps calm an anxious patient. Children with twisted ankles are much easier to work with when lavender is in the air.

List of Herbal Allies for Treatment of Sprained Ankles

  • Witch Hazel
  • Arnica
  • Lavender

Nutrition for Treatment of Sprained Ankles

Calcium and magnesium are needed for repairing connective tissues and replacing blood cells. It’s important to have both of these minerals since calcium cannot be assimilated without magnesium. The general rule of thumb for these supplements is to take half as many milligrams of magnesium as calcium.


Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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