Oedema is an accumulation of fluid beneath the skin. It causes a puffy appearance, most commonly in the legs and ankles. People with oedema 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 oedema is present, pressure on the skin, such as from the elastic band on socks, may leave an indentation that is slow to disappear.

You should always check that there is no underlying problem such as, congestive heart failure or pre-eclampsia of pregnancy, which must be medically treated in order for the oedema to resolve. Oedema of the abdomen, called ascites, may be a sign of serious underlying disease and must be immediately evaluated by a doctor.

In cases such as chronic venous insufficiency, oedema following minor trauma, or lymph-oedema resulting from damage to lymphatic vessels caused by surgery and other medical treatments, it is possible to use both conventional and natural approaches. Unless oedema is clearly due to minor trauma, it should never be treated in isolation until the underlying cause has been properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional.

Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)

Supplement/Herb What it does Dosage
Magnesium May reduce premenstrual breast pain and weight gain resulting from water retention. Helps reduce the hormone aldosterone, implicated in water retention, which is especially common in chronic stress and in pre-menstrual syndrome. 200 – 600mg per day
Dandelion root Dandelion has been shown to have a diuretic action. Helps counter-balance the effects of aldosterone on potassium levels. 500 -1500mg per day
Horsetail Can significantly increase urinary flow, and as such is a popular treatment for both general fluid retention and local oedema. 500 -1500mg per day
Vitamin C and Pantothenic Acid Supports adrenal function and thereby reduces aldosterone production, the hormone which causes the kidneys to retain water. 500 – 3000mg per day
DHA This long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid has been shown to have an aldosterone reducing effect. 100-300mg per day

Diet and Lifestyle Factors

High salt intake should be avoided, as it tends to lead to water retention and may worsen oedema in some people.

Reduce or avoid completely:

Sugar, Refined carbohydrates, Alcohol, Caffeine, Trans fats/fried foods

Increase your intake of:

Vegetarian proteins, Raw vegetables/salads, Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts and seeds, Whole grains, Water

Identify potential allergens. Those following an elimination diet often report a reduction in water retention.

Take regular exercise

Don’t smoke.

Consider underlying issues such as stress and PMS

If the oedema 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 build-up in the legs, avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time without moving.

Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)

  • Apis mel
  • Calcarea carbonica
  • Graphites
  • Ledum
  • Lycopodium
  • Natrum muriaticum
  • Pulsatilla

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