How I Cured Cankles & Cold Toes • Vegan Nutrition + Massage Therapy

Cankels are not pretty. So you can imagine my horror when I started to develop them on a regular basis earlier this year.

What are cankles, some of you may be asking. Cankles are unusually thick or stout ankles caused by weight gain or fluid retention. The clever word is a blend of calf and ankle alluding to the width of the calf remaining constant until the foot without the benefit of shapely, narrowed ankle bones.

This is not my foot, but I can relate:

My cankles were being caused by fluid retention so naturally I started to analyze the fluid-retaining salt in my diet. Since I was still pretty heavily into my love-hate relationship with SeaSnax (roasted nori seaweed in olive oil and sea salt), I suspected these salty, fatty treats may be the cause. I’ve pretty much given up SeaSnax now except for maybe the once or twice a month treat.

But yet the intermittent cankles remain.

They seemed to get worse the further into my marathon training that I got. I would have no fluid retention immediately after running but later in the day or the next day I would develop cankles. Was it inflammation? A symptom of recovery?

As a massage therapist I’m on my feet and I work a lot at my desk. I am often standing at my elevated desk, so it’s not as though I’m extremely sedentary. Yet often fluid would gather while working (standing or sitting) and the dreaded cankles would develop.

I’m active, I eat well, drink plenty of fluids. What’s up? This was driving me mad.

Then I started drinking more lemon oil water to alkalize my body. I make it with lemon essential oil, sea salt, and water. (Recipe) I did this purely to cleanse and balance my body, but guess what? The cankles started to go away. So naturally I drank more. The lemon oil seemed to be more effective than the other citrus oils perhaps due to the microcirculation benefits of lemon oil.

Here’s my theory.

I have very low blood pressure and a slow heart rate genetically. Because I run regularly now I’ve probably lowered my blood pressure and heart rate even more. I drink a lot of fluids (matcha green tea, Rooibos tea, water). When my post-exercise blood pressure and heart rate fall, I just don’t have the heart-pump action or strength to move the fluids and they collect in the lower part of my body thanks to gravity.

My stats thanks to The Blood Alliance:

When I make my lemon oil water with sea salt (I now use about a full teaspoon of salt and about 6 drops of oil) my blood pressure increases just enough to move the fluids in my body and they don’t pool in my ankles, creating cankles. I aim to drink 30 fluid ounces (I love to reuse tall, glass VOSS water bottles) of salty, lemon water once in the morning and once at night. If I have forgotten and cankles develop during the day, I can drink my lemon oil water and the cankles go away within the hour.

Here is the sea salt I prefer:

It might be a magic combination of the oil, sea salt, and water and maybe the SeaSnax didn’t use a high quality sea salt, but the water drink works and the salty seaweed didn’t for my body. Another lovely side-effect of drinking the lemon oil water is that my extremities (fingers and toes…but especially toes) are not as cold. I used to have the chronically coldest toes, but no more! There’s a lot to be said for a healthy blood pressure and heart rate.

If you eat well, exercise regularly, drink ample water, have low blood pressure and still get fluid retention, try the salty, lemon oil water. It may help you too. I do not recommend this for anyone with high blood pressure. Please be smart, choose wisely, and consult your physician if you are uncertain.

Additional Resources

Table Salt vs. Sea Salt

Order Therapeutic Grade Lemon Oil

Carla Golden is a vegan nutritionist and a massage therapist in private practice specializing in therapeutic essential oils. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Holistic Health & Healing, she enjoys helping others discover the benefits and liberation inherent in a whole food, plant-based vegan diet. The Vegan Key™ is her newest online nutrition program based on tried and true methods which foster performance, vitality, and purpose. Join Carla in person at a Palmetto Plant Eaters Club meeting!

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