Fact Check: Can cabbage leaf wraps help to treat joint pains?

Quick Take

A number of social media posts and health blogs claim that wrapping raw cabbage leaves around your knees can help manage joint pain and swelling. We fact checked and found that the claim is half true.

The Claim

“Inspired by my own recent knee injury, I am showing you how you can make a simple, inexpensive but effective cabbage leaf wrap to decrease joint pain and swelling,” writes one of the social media users who posted a video explaining how to wrap cabbage leaves to get rid of joint pain and swelling. The video can be seen on YouTube here and a screenshot is given below.

Fact Check

What are the different reasons of leg pain and swelling?

There are multiple reasons for a leg pain and swelling including serious diseases like edema, lymphedema, deep vain thrombosis or even heart, kidney, liver disease.

Similarly, knee pain pain can have multiple reasons like an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage to serious medical conditions like arthritis, gout and infections.

Can cabbage leaves reduce pain and swelling?

Not exactly. There is very limited scientific evidence of this.

There was a small study done in 2016 on 81 people with arthritis where researchers found that cabbage leaf wrap are effective for knee Osteoarthritis. However, researchers concluded the study by saying, “Further research is warranted.”

In another study done in 2018, researchers found, “application of cabbage wraps with ice to the knee in men may promote a reduction of swelling (by accelerating absorption of knee exudates) if applied during the acute stage of the knee injury.”

Cabbage leaf had shown its efficacy in managing pain and inflammation in other physical problems too.

However, beyond these studies we could not find any further medical research that supports use of cabbage leaves on various other types of leg or knee pain.

Dr. Anurag Sharma

Dr. Anurag Sharma, MS (Orthopaedics) says, “There is no significant evidence in the literature to support the relief in arthritis pain by wrapping cabbage leaves on joints. Neither it has any significant association with other bone-related diseases that can cause pain in leg or knees. But cabbage, as a vegetable, has a good nutritional value which is good for our overall health.”

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