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    Edema (Holistic)

    Edema (Holistic)

    About This Condition

    Puffiness in your legs or other limbs may be caused by a buildup of excess fluid underneath the skin. What can you do to remedy water retention? According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
    • Try a diuretic

      Pick up an over-the-counter remedy containing ammonium and caffeine, or an herbal diuretic containing goldenrod, corn silk, horsetail, juniper, or dandelion

    • Fill up on flavonoids

      Try these natural plant pigment supplements to reduce symptoms of edema associated with venous or lymphatic conditions; take 2,000 mg a day of hydroxyethylrutosides or a daily combination of diosmin (900 mg) and hesperidin (100 mg)

    • Check out butcher?s broom

      For edema caused by venous or lymphatic disorders, take 300 to 450 mg a day of this plant extract in combination with hesperidin and vitamin C

    About

    About This Condition

    Abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin is known as edema. This leads to a puffy appearance, often in a limb, most commonly a leg.

    There are many causes of edema. In some cases, the underlying problem (for example, congestive heart failure or preeclampsia of pregnancy) must be medically treated in order for the edema to resolve. In other cases (such as chronic venous insufficiency , edema following minor trauma, or lymphedema resulting from damage to lymphatic vessels caused by surgery and other medical treatments), it is possible with both conventional and natural approaches to focus specifically on the edema. Unless edema is clearly due to minor trauma, it should never be treated until the underlying cause has been properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional. The discussion below deals only with situations in which it is safe to focus on the edema itself and not the underlying cause.

    Symptoms

    People with edema may notice that a ring on their finger feels tighter than in the past, or they might have difficulty in putting on shoes, especially toward the end of the day. They may also notice a puffiness of the face around the eyes, or in the feet, ankles, and legs. When edema is present, pressure on the skin, such as from the elastic band on socks, may leave an indentation that is slow to disappear. Edema of the abdomen, called ascites, may be a sign of serious underlying disease and must be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

    Healthy Lifestyle Tips

    If the edema is affecting one limb, the limb should be kept elevated whenever possible. This allows fluid to drain more effectively from the congested area. To decrease fluid buildup in the legs, people should avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time without moving.

    Eating Right

    The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

    Recommendation Why
    Try a low-salt diet
    Avoid eating too much salt, as it tends to lead to water retention and may worsen edema in some people.

    High salt intake should be avoided, as it tends to lead to water retention and may worsen edema in some people. A controlled trial found that a low-salt diet (less than 2,100 mg sodium per day) resulted in reduced water retention after two months in a group of women with unexplained edema.1

    Supplements

    What Are Star Ratings?

    Our proprietary ?Star-Rating? system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

    For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

    3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

    2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

    1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

    Supplement Why
    2 Stars
    Selenium
    230 mcg daily
    People with lymphedema of the arm or head-and-neck region who were treated with selenium saw an improvement in quality of life and edema symptoms in one study.

    In a preliminary study, individuals with lymphedema of the arm or head-and-neck region were treated with approximately 230 mcg of selenium per day, in the form of sodium selenite, for four to six weeks. A quality-of-life assessment showed an improvement of 59%, and the circumference of the edematous arm was reduced in 10 of 12 cases.4

    1 Star
    Cleavers
    Refer to label instructions
    Cleavers is one of numerous plants considered in ancient times to act as a diuretic. It was therefore used to relieve edema and to promote urine formation during bladder infections.

    Cleavers is one of numerous plants considered in ancient times to act as a diuretic.5 It was therefore used to relieve edema and to promote urine formation during bladder infections.

    1 Star
    Corn Silk
    Refer to label instructions
    Corn silk has long been considered to have diuretic properties, which are beneficial for treating edema.

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys were traditionally used to reduce edema. Herbal diuretics do not work the same way that drugs do, thus it is unclear whether such herbs would be effective for this purpose. Goldenrod (Solidago cnadensis) is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.6 Animal studies show, at very high amounts (2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight), that dandelion leaves possess diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretic furosemide (Lasix®).7 Human clinical trials have not been completed to confirm these results. Corn silk (Zea mays) has also long been used as a diuretic, though a human study did not find that it increased urine output.8 Thus, diuretic herbs are not yet well supported for use in reducing edema.

    1 Star
    Dandelion
    Refer to label instructions
    Dandelion leaves have diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretics used to treat edema.

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys were traditionally used to reduce edema. Herbal diuretics do not work the same way that drugs do, thus it is unclear whether such herbs would be effective for this purpose. Goldenrod (Solidago cnadensis) is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.9 Animal studies show, at very high amounts (2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight), that dandelion leaves possess diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretic furosemide (Lasix®).10 Human clinical trials have not been completed to confirm these results. Corn silk (Zea mays) has also long been used as a diuretic, though a human study did not find that it increased urine output.11 Thus, diuretic herbs are not yet well supported for use in reducing edema.

    1 Star
    Goldenrod
    Refer to label instructions
    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys (diuretics) theoretically should help reduce edema. Goldenrod is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys were traditionally used to reduce edema. Herbal diuretics do not work the same way that drugs do, thus it is unclear whether such herbs would be effective for this purpose. Goldenrod (Solidago cnadensis) is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.12 Animal studies show, at very high amounts (2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight), that dandelion leaves possess diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretic furosemide (Lasix®).13 Human clinical trials have not been completed to confirm these results. Corn silk (Zea mays) has also long been used as a diuretic, though a human study did not find that it increased urine output.14 Thus, diuretic herbs are not yet well supported for use in reducing edema.

    1 Star
    Horse Chestnut
    Refer to label instructions
    An ingredient in horse chestnut seed has been shown to effectively reduce post-surgical edema in preliminary trials.

    Aescin, isolated from horse chestnut seed, has been shown to effectively reduce post-surgical edema in preliminary trials.15 , 16 A form of aescin that is injected into the bloodstream is often used but only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

    1 Star
    Horsetail
    Refer to label instructions
    Horsetail has a diuretic action that accounts for its traditional use in reducing mild edema.

    Horsetail has a diuretic (urine flow increasing) action that accounts for its traditional use in reducing mild edema. Although there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema, the German government has approved horsetail for this use. The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in this way can theoretically lessen edema;17 however, there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema.

    1 Star
    Juniper
    Refer to label instructions
    The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in this way can theoretically lessen edema.

    Horsetail has a diuretic (urine flow increasing) action that accounts for its traditional use in reducing mild edema. Although there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema, the German government has approved horsetail for this use. The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in this way can theoretically lessen edema;18 however, there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema.

    1 Star
    Quercetin
    Refer to label instructions
    In one study, the flavonoid quercetin corrected abnormal capillary permeability (leakiness), an effect that might improve edema.
    Because coumarin, hydroxyethylrutosides, and diosmin are not widely available in the United States, other flavonoids, such as quercetin, rutin, or anthocyanosides (from bilberry), have been substituted by doctors in an attempt to obtain similar benefits. The effect of these other flavonoids against edema has not been well studied. Also, optimal amounts are not known. However, in one study, quercetin in amounts of 30-50 mg per day corrected abnormal capillary permeability (leakiness),19 an effect that might improve edema. A similar effect has been reported with rutin at 20 mg three times per day.20 Doctors often recommend 80-160 mg of a standardized extract of bilberry, three times per day.

    References

    1. Ponce P, Mello-Gomes E. Idiopathic edema, tubular metabolism of water and sodium. Acta Med Port 1991;4:236?41 [in Portuguese].

    2. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Ricci A, et al. Control of edema in hypertensive subjects treated with calcium antagonist (nifedipine) or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2006;12:440-4.

    3. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, et al. Prevention of edema in long flights with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2005;11:289-94.

    4. Micke O, Bruns F, Mucke R, et al. Selenium in the treatment of radiation-associated secondary lymphedema. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2003;56:40?9.

    5. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. London: Viking Arkana, 1991, 493?4.

    6. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

    7. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212?7.

    8. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1994;36:225?31.

    9. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

    10. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212?7.

    11. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1994;36:225?31.

    12. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

    13. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212?7.

    14. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1994;36:225?31.

    15. Dini D, Bianchini M, Massa T, Fassio T. Treatment of upper limb lymphedema after mastectomy with escine and levo-thyroxine. Minerva Med 1981;72:2319?22 [in Italian].

    16. Wilhelm K, Feldmeier C. Thermometric investigations about the efficacy of beta-escin to reduce postoperative edema. Med Klin 1977;72:128?34 [in German].

    17. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76?7 [review].

    18. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76?7 [review].

    19. Griffith JQ. Clinical application of quercetin: preliminary report. J Am Pharm Assoc 1953;42:68?9.

    20. Shanno RL. Rutin: a new drug for the treatment of increased capillary fragility. Am J Med Sci 1946;211:539?43.

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