One of my mom’s favorite remedies for ankle sprains was to wrap cabbage around the ankle joint for an hour or more to help decrease inflammation. This would often be repeated for a second time later in the day. However, what does literature say about this natural home remedy?
Interestingly enough, cabbage has been used in medicine for many years. Explorers in the 17th and 18th century were carrying cabbage with them as a natural preventative for scurvy. The British used the properties found throughout the cabbage leaves as a treatment for trench foot in World War I, as well as bandages for ulcers.
In fact, cabbage leaves are rich in calcium, iodine, iron, potassium phosphorus, sulfur and glucosinolate. It is an excellent source of Vitamins C and K. Literature shows that the leafy green plant is rich in nutrients but it is not well understood how these nutrients work for medicinal use. To this day, there is insufficient evidence regarding the effectiveness of using cabbage to heal ankle sprains.
Current treatment recommendations for sprains consist of application of ice, elevation, compression and rest/immobilization. Keep in mind that the treatments for sprains are variable depending on the location and the severity of the injury. While most ankle sprain injuries are simple and heal over a short period of time, some injuries necessitate more aggressive treatment. So while cabbage may have some significant health benefits, maybe save it for the picnic table as opposed to the wound kit.