A bunion is a deformity that most often occurs at the base of your big toe, causing swelling, pain and difficulty in walking. Poorly fitted shoes, injury and even genetics play a role in whether you will develop bunions, reports MayoClinic.com. In some cases, bunions arise as a symptom of arthritis. Ask your doctor about special footwear and home treatment options. Some herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties that may help shrink bunions. Always talk to your doctor before using herbal remedies to self-treat your condition.
According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, chamomile tea may help shrink bunions. Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory properties. The college recommends utilizing these anti-swelling benefits by both drinking the tea and applying the spent teabags directly to your bunions. To harness the herb's ability to reduce swelling, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests drinking up to four cups of German chamomile tea daily. Additional topical options other than teabags include mixing dried chamomile with enough water to form a paste and applying to your bunions when you are able to rest with your shoes off. Alternatively, look for prepared creams or ointments that contain chamomile.
Like chamomile, calendula boasts anti-inflammatory properties and is sometimes recommended for shrinking bunions, according to “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook,” by Dr. James A. Duke, a scientist and advocate of natural healing methods. Look for calendula ointments in health food stores or specialty shops, and apply the ointment two or three times each day for a week, suggests Duke. If your bunions don’t appear to decrease in size after that time, look for an alternative remedy.
Duke recommends turning up the heat on your bunions by applying natural products containing either red pepper or turmeric. Both spices reduce swelling and pain, with pain-blocking compounds. Duke suggests buying a prepared ointment containing capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. Turmeric also comes in both topical and oral preparations. To use it internally, purchase curcumin capsules, which contain the active ingredient of turmeric. Taking three daily doses of 400 mg curcumin produces greater anti-inflammatory benefits than simply adding turmeric to your food, notes Duke. If you’d rather eat the spice, you’ll need 6 to 8 tsp. each day. For topical relief and shrinkage, apply grated turmeric, or a paste made from the ground spice and water, directly to your bunion.
Combine lifestyle changes with herbal treatments for optimal bunion relief. Wearing shoes with plenty of toe room is crucial. Using padding and tape to shape your toes into their regular positions or buying special shoe inserts may also help. In severe cases, surgery may be required, so don’t rely on anti-inflammatory herbs alone without consulting your physician. It’s also important to tell your doctor which herbs you are using topically or orally, as some may interfere with your current medication or may worsen other health problems.
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Caring for Feet With Chinese Medicine
- University of Maryland Medical Center: German Chamomile
- "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook"; James A. Duke, Ph.D.; 2002