How to Improve Circulation: 9 Natural Remedies

Updated in December 2023

To improve circulation naturally, you drink diuretic teas (like green tea or parsley tea), increase your fluid intake, reduce salt intake, consume cayenne pepper and increase your intake of omega-3 foods (like citrus fruits and dark green vegetables).

Another great way to improve circulation is to simply move your legs and arms throughout the day. This can facilitate blood circulation and prevent fluid accumulation that can lead to swelling.

Poor circulation can arise due to a normal aging, but it can also occur as a result of diseases like peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, obesity or smoking. The most common symptoms of these conditions are leg swelling, cold hands and feet, and muscle cramps.

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Natural ways to improve circulation

Some natural ways to boost blood flow in the body are:

1. Drink more fluids

Drinking more fluids throughout the day can help improve and prevent poor circulation. When the body is not adequately hydrated, blood does not circulate as efficiently, which can cause fluid retention and swelling in the legs, feet or hands.

You should aim for at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day or fruit juice per day to help improve blood circulation.

2. Consume cayenne pepper

A great way to improve poor circulation is to consume cayenne pepper, as it is rich in capsaicin. This substance improves blood flow to the tissues and reduces blood pressure. It also stimulates the release of nitric oxide which can dilate blood vessels, and facilitate blood flow through the veins and arteries.

Some studies show that increasing your intake of cayenne pepper improves circulation and blood vessel resistance. It can also reduce the accumulation of fatty plaques in the arteries.

A good way to use cayenne pepper is to add a pinch of it to a liter of water and to drink it throughout the day. Be careful not to add too much, as the drink can easily be too spicy. Another option is to put 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder in 1 liter of olive oil and use it to season a salad.

3. Drink diuretic teas

Diuretic teas such as green tea, parsley tea or horsetail tea, have natural diuretic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These contain flavonoids, caffeine and potassium, which improve circulation and help to eliminate excess fluid that causes swelling in your hands, legs or feet.

To obtain the benefits of a diuretic tea, choose one of tea to drink throughout the day. Check out a list of natural diuretic herbs that can be used to prepare tea.

4. Increase omega-3 intake

Omega-3 is a type of healthy fat with a powerful anti-inflammatory action. It triggers the release of nitric oxide, a substance that dilates the blood vessels and improves blood flow, which improves circulation.

Omega-3 also lowers blood pressure and helps to prevent fat accumulation in the veins and arteries. This can help to prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. Read more about the benefits of omega-3.

An excellent way to increase your omega-3 intake is to eat salmon, tuna or sardines at least 3 times a week or chia seeds and flaxseeds, chestnuts, walnuts and olive oil every day. Another option is to consume an omega-3 supplements in the form of capsules, which are sold in pharmacies, drugstores and nutrition stores. See a list of foods that are rich in omega-3 that you can incorporate into your diet.

5. Eat leafy-green vegetables

Leafy-green vegetables, such as spinach, watercress, coriander, parsley and kale, are rich in nitrates. This substance is transformed into nitric oxide in the body, which dilates blood vessels and allows blood to flow more easily.

Therefore, you should consume Leafy-green vegetables every day in salads, juices or soups, for example.

6. Eat more citrus fruits

Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons and grapefruit, are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids. These are powerful antioxidants that help improve circulation by reducing damage to blood vessels caused by free radicals. They can reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness, and also improve blood flow and the nitric oxide production to dilate veins and arteries.

You should ideally aim to consume at least two types of fresh citrus fruits every day, either whole or in juices and smoothies.

7. Reduce salt intake

Ingesting large amounts of salt can interfere with optimal blood circulation because salt contains a lot of sodium which retains water. High levels of sodium in the body with lead to swelling in the legs, in the feet, ankles, arms or hands.

A good way to reduce salt intake is to use low-sodium salt or to swap salt with aromatic herbs to season your food.

8. Take an immersion bath in Epsom salts

Epsom salts are rich in magnesium sulfate, which is easily absorbed into the skin. This substance facilitates blood flow and reduces symptoms of poor circulation like swelling or pain in the legs or feet.

This immersion bath is easy to prepare and allows you to achieve pain relief and reduce  swelling that comes on at the end of the day.

You can prepare an Epsom salt bath by adding ½ cup of Epsom salts to 2 to 3 liters of warm water, or enough water to cover your feet and calves. Dilute the salts well, stirring the water with your hand. Soak your feet in the water for around 15 minutes. This bath can be performed up to 3 times a week.

9. Move your arms and legs

Performing light physical activity, such as walking or water aerobics, can stimulate blood circulation, and can reduce and prevent poor circulation.

One way to move your legs, if you work in a seated position for prolonged periods ot time, is to walk a little every hour within the office or to walk a block at lunch time. However, if your job requires prolonged standing, it is important to flex your knees and ankles every hour and to stand up on your toes to help your calves pump blood from your legs to your heart. To move your arms, you should raise your arms up every hour, opening and closing your hands to help blood circulation and prevent swelling.

When to see the doctor

It is important to see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden swelling of the legs, feet or arms
  • Swelling in only one foot or one hand
  • Redness in the swollen foot or hand
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or phlegm
  • Fever
  • Tingling

In these cases, the doctor may order testing, like blood tests or a Doppler ultrasound to identify the source of poor circulation and recommend the most appropriate treatment.