A buildup of fluid in the body’s interstitial tissues surrounding the lymph glands causes lymphedema. It happens when lymph nodes are damaged, removed or missing, leaving the lymphatic system unable to eliminate surplus lymphatic fluid through the lymph vessels. If not properly treated, lymphedema can cause severe complications, including interference with wound healing and infection. However, natural lifestyle changes and remedies can often offer substantial relief.
Types of Lymphedema
There are two types of lymphedema, primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema is characterized by irregularities in the lymphatic systems or missing lymph nodes at birth. Secondary lymphedema is a result of surgical removal of the lymph nodes, radiation treatments, malignancy, build up of scar tissue or infection. It is not unusual to see a cancer patient develop lymphedema after surgery because of removal of their lymph nodes.
Currently, no cure exists for lymphedema. However, there are several methods for coping with the swelling and pain, and a few approaches toward prevention if you understand that you are at risk. The top five ways to fight lymphedema naturally include:
- Compression Garments. Once the swelling is reduced, you can prevent further swelling by using a compression sleeve or stocking. The compression garment helps block lymph fluid from accumulating in affected areas. Elevating your affected limb above your heart is also helpful.
- Constant motion keeps the lymph fluid moving. Instead of working out for an hour a day once a day, a lot of movement throughout your day is recommended. Take frequent breaks at work and go on short walks, go for bike rides, use the stairs and do whatever you can to move frequently.
- Diet and supplements. A healthy diet supplement with vitamins and minerals is helpful in naturally preventing lymphedema or reducing swelling. For example, 200 to 500 mg of horse-chestnut extract per day can strengthen your veins, prevent leakage and stimulate the lymph vessel walls. You can also eat potassium-rich foods high, such as bananas, to reduce fluid retention.
- Drink plenty of water. High-quality water is essential for treating lymphedema. You can easily use countertop water filtration systems to make your drinking water alkaline and add minerals back to the water. Adding lemon juice on the days that you have chemotherapy can help combat nausea.
- Juice. If you juice with your four to five recommended servings of green vegetables daily, you will quickly discover that they are great anti-inflammatories. Keep out high sugar fruits, such as bananas and apples. Juicing can help restore balance to hormones that chemotherapy destroys.
These are just several of the many natural treatments that can help reduce symptoms of lymphedema. Make sure to monitor the signals your body sends and pay attention to your intuition to improve your overall health.
In general, to reduce or prevent symptoms of lymphedema, take care of your body. The lymphatic system extracts toxins, so the fewer toxins you introduce to your body, the less it will need to work. Avoid highly processed, fatty and sugary foods. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits instead. Taking care of your body now can help you avoid severe discomfort and pain in the future.