Having a lymphedema leg can complicate your daily life. Lymphedema is a condition that affects the arms and legs caused by the buildup of lymph fluid. This buildup occurs under the fatty tissue. When this buildup increases, the affected limb will begin to swell. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about treating lymphedema.
How to Treat a Lymphedema Leg Naturally
In this Article:
- Types of Lymphedema
- Causes of Lymphedema
- Signs of Lymphedema
- Natural Treatments to Reduce Lymphedema Swelling
Types of Lymphedema
Lymphedema most often occurs in the legs and has been associated with cancer treatments. When you develop lymphedema, you can have one of two types.
- Primary Lymphedema - This condition is inherited and causes an abnormality with the lymph vessels from birth.
- Secondary Lymphedema - This condition occurs when lymph vessels and nodes stop functioning properly.
Causes of Lymphedema
Your lymphatic system helps maintain the blood for your entire body. When lymphedema occurs, there is a problem with this system. Your lymph fluid will travel through your body trapping bacteria and viruses to protect you from diseases. Lymphedema is the result of fluid that can no longer circulate as it should. This can be from damage done to the lymph nodes, hereditary conditions, and even certain cancer treatments.
Signs of Lymphedema
There are multiple signs of lymphedema aside from swelling in a specific arm or leg. You may also experience:
- Tightness in limbs
- Heaviness in the affected extremity
- A limit to motion in the affected limb
- Aching or discomfort
- An increase in infections
- Hardened skin
These symptoms can range in severity and increase and decrease over time.
Natural Treatments to Reduce Lymphedema Swelling
The main focus on treating lymphedema is reducing swelling and managing pain. Many doctors may prescribe pain medication and diuretics along with a therapy plan. If you prefer to choose a more natural approach to manage your lymphedema swelling and reduce the pain, you can utilize the treatments listed below.
1. Limit Your Sodium Intake
It is the job of your kidneys to regulate the salt your body needs to keep, and the amount it needs to output in urine. When your kidneys are not working properly, this can interfere with your salt absorption. When your kidneys do not excrete the proper amount of salt, it will stay in your body. The problem is that water follows sodium so retaining this excess salt can lead to water retention. The more water you retain in your body, the more swelling you will have.
To limit the salt your body retains, eat foods lower in sodium. A good way to eliminate sodium is to reduce the amount of processed and pre-packaged foods. Try to include a lean protein and healthy fats in your diet. You should also try cooking more meals at home where you will be able to control the amount of salt in your food.
2. Get Some Exercise
If your lymphedema is the result of excess weight, one of the first steps to reducing your lymphedema is getting the weight off. Exercise not only helps you lose weight but can keep your fluids pumping back into your heart. By keeping the fluid in your body moving, you are less likely to have a fluid pool in your extremities that increase swelling. This does not mean you need a rigorous workout routine. Try to stand up and move around frequently throughout the day. This can be for as little as ten minutes five to eight times a day to see the benefits.
3. Add Parsley to Your Diet
Parsley is a natural diuretic that can remove the water from your body. This will help with swelling and bloating. Parsley works by increasing urine production to draw out extra water. You can add parsley to your diet or simply eat the leaves. One of the easiest ways to take parsley regularly is by making it into a tea. You will need to add about a quarter of a cup of chopped parsley to one cup of boiling water. Two cups of parsley tea a day can help reduce swelling from water retention.
4. Drink Some Dandelion Tea
Another natural diuretic is dandelion root. It also helps to eliminate toxins in your body that can result from inflammation. Brew the root or flowers in a tea, and drink one or two cups to increase the frequency of urination. If you do not have the time or are uncomfortable making your own tea, you can purchase it from a health food store.
5. Try Some Essential Oils
Essential oils serve as remedies for a number of conditions including swelling. Some essential oils will not only act as a diuretic but reduce inflammation that causes swelling as well. This occurs through the stimulation of blood circulation in the body. The two essential oils recommended for reducing swellings are grapefruit and fennel.
Grapefruit can help activate the lymphatic system. It reduces fluid retention and eliminates toxins responsible for inflammation. Add 3 to 4 drops of grapefruit essential oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil and massage into the area twice daily. Fennel oil helps by removing waste that causes swelling and lessening inflammation. Use it the same way as grapefruit oil when applied topically or you can consume it with 1 or 2 drops in herbal tea to promote a diuretic effect.
6. Get a Massage
Gentle massaging can promote healthy blood flow and improve circulation. This can alleviate some of the pressure on your blood vessels which can aid in reducing swelling. Massage therapy can drastically reduce water retention, especially when performed on extremities affected by lymphedema swelling.
7. Elevate the Area
When the areas affected by lymphedema are lower in your body, and they are inactive, water and other fluids can begin to pool increasing swelling. If you have been sitting, standing, or in one position for a long time, elevate the area for a period of time. This can help the fluids begin circulating in the body and reduce the amount of fluid retained in your extremities.
8. Wrap Limbs That Are Affected
One way to reduce swelling from lymphedema is by directing the lymph fluid back to the main part of your body where it can circulate. You can do this by tightly bandaging the extremities that are affected. You should start with a bandage tightly wrapped at your fingers and toes and continue to wrap up. The bandage should be looser as it goes up your arm so the fluid gets pushed towards the trunk of your body. You can also utilize compression garments which help push the lymph fluid to the center as well. It is recommended to use these garments, especially during exercise.
9. Consider Pneumatic Compression
Pneumatic compression consists of a sleeve that you wear over the affected limb. This sleeve is connected to a pump which will inflate the sleeve intermittently. When the sleeve inflates, it will use pressure to push the fluids back to the trunk of your body.
10. Use Homeopathic Treatment
Homeopathic lymphedema treatments unblock your lymphatic passageway. The Hervert Detox Lymph is highly recommended. Adults can take 20 drops in water daily. Children below 12 years old need a prescription from a physician.
11. Try Proteolytic Enzymes
One of the best proteolytic enzymes highly recommended is Enzyme Defense Pro. It contains a high-potency proteolytic enzyme blend formulated with vitamin D3, L-lysine, and minerals to promote healthy immune function. The best time to take it is on an empty stomach, preferably half an hour to 2 hours before meals.
If you are looking for ways to treat your lymphedema swelling naturally, try the tips listed above. The main thing to focus on when treating swelling is eliminating or reducing things that cause swelling and trying to keep the fluid moving around your body and away from your extremities. Your doctor or physical therapist can also offer information about other forms of treatment to reduce your swelling and eliminate the pain associated with it.
Do you have other pain management tips for lymphedema leg swelling? Share them in the comments section below.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned are intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.