Lymphedema Help: Natural Treatment & Management Options
On therapy choices to help relieve or possibly heal swelling symptoms in arm or leg
by copyright © 2004 - 2017 Healing Cancer Naturally
Lymphedema Treatment or Management?
According to the rather pessimistic assessment of the Cleveland Clinic (and others) "Lymphedema once it occurs is difficult to treat, and treatments vary. Conservative treatments such as bandaging, proper skin care, compression garments, and exercises are some general methods of care. There is no easy surgical fix for treatment of lymphedema. Surgical procedures have been tried in general, few of them work well in the long term; some make the condition much worse, and more difficult to treat. In a very few situations, certain specialized operations are useful, but these are not common. Almost all specialists who see patients with lymphedema agree that adequate conservative treatment, by well-trained therapists, should be tried before resorting to surgery.
...more comprehensive information about lymphedema prevention and treatment from [the conventionally orientated] Cleveland Clinic” can be found at
Lymphedema Treatment & Therapy Options
In addition to what is conventionally advised to alleviate the symptoms of lymphedema such as compression garments that cover and apply pressure to affected limbs & compression pumps which move excess fluid toward still-functioning lymph vessels, etc., the following measures may help bring relief (by reducing swelling) and even possibly effect a cure:
Detoxify as much as possible, avoiding overweight and creating the greatest possible health and internal cleanliness including in your all-important vascular system. Use detoxifying baths such as epsom salt baths which have the additional advantage of chelating ionizing radiation & destructive radioactivity from your body.
- EMF avoidance
Whether you suffer from lymphedema or not, one of the most important health and healing measures to take in this day and age is to safeguard oneself to the extent possible from man-made electropollution and HF fields, see Electromagnetic fields and radiation (EMFs and EMRs): critical protection and avoidance measures. Exposure to strong electropollution is likely to make any condition worse.
- Increase circulation
See "Activate your lymphatic system" for pertinent advice such as daily use of rebounder etc.
Massage (manual lymph drainage) and elevation can also be helpful. herbs2000.com/disorders/lymphedema.htm writes: “Take the enzyme preparation Wobenzym as directed on the label. In an Austrian clinical test involving women who had breast cancer surgery, a combination of Wobenzym with manual lymph drainage reduced arm size, lessened pain, and improved skin condition in less than two months' use.”
Truly in a class of its own. Read DMSO helps against lymphedema? A powerful anecdotal case report (and quite easy and inexpensive).
- Diet, foods or food components
A good dietary and lifestyle protocol to follow for people with a cancer challenge seems to be Dr. Johanna Budwig’s Healing Diet & Protocol which additionally, due to its somewhat “blood-thinning” effect, may also assist in facilitating lymphatic flow. A testimonial reads, "My husband's hand and arm started to swell after surgery ... it was because he had his lymph glands removed and this caused a drainage problem. However he stuck to the Budwig diet and the arm is perfectly normal now. But he took care not to overstrain it and always wears his watch on the other wrist. Also we make it clear that no blood must ever be taken from that arm and no blood pressure taken on it."
Kelley Eidem's recipe so far has one lymphedema success report under its belt (not cancer-related): a 16yo girl underwent surgery for a large blockage ("pus-like gunk") in a lymph node in her armpit which had begun to cut off the circulation to her arm. The problem however returned with a vengeance, with aggressive boils and swollen and painful lymph nodes developing. Bedridden, virtually fasting and deteriorating by the day, she refused another hospital stay. In a last-ditch effort, her father made her try the hot pepper sandwich (using freshly grated ginger instead) with garlic and butter on sprouted grain bread plus a couple of cod liver oil tablets later, encouraging her to do some minimalist exercise as well. She completely recovered within two days. It appears that the hot sandwich liquified the gunk in her lymph system so the lymph could start moving normally again.
www.herbs2000.com recommends nutritional support such as bromelain found in raw pineapples, and oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) found in grape seed and other sources. Bromelain is said to reduce swelling & break up immune complexes that cause inflammation. (Some are allergic to pineapple and may develop a rash). Both pineapple bromelain and grapes also have anti-cancer and other positive health effects, see Raw food cancer treatment. Research studies: anti-cancer effect of resveratrol, pterostilbene and grapeseed extract and Best and worst foods for cancer patients. An (unreferenced) statement I came across maintained that "after breast cancer surgery, edema, pain and dysesthesia (abnormal skin sensations) can be markedly reduced by regular OPC intake". Considering that oligomeric proanthocyanidins appear to be some kind of Jack-of-all- trades in the health arena, taking them in supplement form or directly via increased consumption of foods rich in OPCs may be very worthwhile.
Also compare Numb arm becoming normal again after breast cancer operation thanks to raw food diet.
"Green power foods" and drinks such as daily freshly pressed organic wheatgrass (alternatively freeze-dried wheatgrass), celery and parsley juice and spirulina reportedly helped a woman cure her lymphedema.
Since according to Dr. Max Gerson, high-speed blenders and juicers destroy important food enzymes, use a low-speed device and strain through a nut milk bag as needed. (Compare Juicers).
Anti-inflammatory diet: a woman who had suffered from lymphedema in her leg for over two and a half decades reported that after gradually adopting an anti- inflammatory diet (eliminating "forbidden" foods one by one), her legs looked almost normal within seven days and she felt extremely good.
There are a number of herbs and herbal preparations which are said to help achieve increased lymphatic flow, reduce swelling and blood-vessel inflammation and/or strengthen lymphatic vessel walls. For instance butcher's broom, ginger tea (made from powdered ginger and said to increase circulation & reduce inflammation), sweet clover (Melilotus) ointment (contains coumarin which stimulates lymph flow & speeds skin wound healing. In rare cases, sweet clover can cause liver toxicity. [Quoted from herbs2000.com/disorders/lymphedema.htm]).
"Indigo Drops", a formula for lymphatic blockages developed by herbalist Ingrid Naiman (which contain herbs such as galangal, goldenseal, baptisia, lomatium, stillingia, St. John's wort, and burdock) have helped many even "in as little as 5-6 hours" (available at www.cancersalves.com).
Two other herbal testimonials read, “I used Butcher's broom alternated with horse chestnut for this problem. Worked for my son in 2002. Used it again last year with the same good results. Plantain leaf poultices may also be very helpful.“ “Horse chestnut has helped with lymphedema in the legs with some cancer patients.“
You may also wish to use frankincense, myrrh and ginger essential oils to promote lymphatic movement, and cayenne is an all-round beneficial herb.
Red clover (which also has anti-cancer properties) as well as fenugreek appear to be helpful as well.
Maria Treben reports the case of a woman who had surgery of her right breast and whose thickly swollen arm nearly returned to normal thanks to Plantago lanceolata poultices.
One person reported a dramatic cure "for now" after using a Chinese tincture named RDI for a month (if you can find this remedy, please let me know).
- Cabbage leaf packs
While it does sound ridiculous at first glance, cabbage leaf applications have even saved lives and are a mainstay in famed Swiss healer Father Thomas Haeberle's books. A woman reported that following mastectomy, she suffered from persistent lymphedema and had tried elastic bandages to no avail. After reading that cabbage leaves had helped in cases of breast engorgement, she applied crushed cabbage leaves over the bulge and held them in place with elastic bandage. After experiencing significant improvement happening overnight, she reported that three nights later the swelling had virtually disappeared. You can read some background on using cabbage leaf poultices for healing purposes at Tumors healed thanks to cabbage leaf poultices and ... unconditional love.
When there is a hormonal involvement in your body's lack of proper fluid control (such as adrenal and kidney depletion), bio-identical hormones (thyroid and adrenal) apparently can be helpful.
- Hydrotherapy (according to Sebastian Kneipp etc.)
Water applications generally help improve circulation and also may have a positive effect on lymphedema symptoms.
- Energy medicine & energetic approaches
Homeopathics (such as the remedy called Serum Anguillae), EFT, chi kung (both of which can be self-applied), acupuncture and similar “energetic” approaches to healing aim at increasing the flow of life force energy and/or overcoming energetic blockages, a very important avenue of healing. Compare Energetics. I also strongly recommend Donna Eden's Energy Medicine work (tailored for DIY home use).
Sleeping on an earthing sheet
A woman with lymphedema who previously reported the successful use of red-light therapy, adds in 2012:
"I continue to use the therapy, but I have found something else that really helps. It is called 'earthing'. ... I sleep on an earthing sheet, which connects me to the earth as a source of free electrons. These electrons go to the point of highest inflammation in the body and 'put out the fire'. It is a simple negative charge from the earthing mat or sheet that kills the inflammation. This has helped my axillary area immensely. The pain is much diminished and the swelling goes down. I will never sleep without my earthing pad or sheet, as it has helped me so much."
Note: You can start earthing yourself right now by taking off your shoes and walking outside on grass or earth. The longer you do this, the more you should benefit.
Sleeping on a negative-poled magnetic bed pad
It's likely that sleeping on a magnetic bed pad would have a similarly beneficial effect. In addition, applying a negative pole magnetic field to certain kinds of cancer has brought about dramatic cures of the illness, see The Magnetic Answer For Cancer.
"Light Life Rings" by Slim Spurling (sacred geometry copper rings)
Sleeping with the large rings around the affected leg and upper body has helped a person to effectively keep the swelling away.
- Healing stones
Learn about and use crystals (incl. lithotherapy, a branch of homeopathics): certain gemstones and minerals are known to stimulate circulation.
As with any physical or other affliction, it may be helpful to also ask for assistance, healing inspiration and guidance from the spiritual realms via prayer, meditation etc. You may also wish to request the most benevolent outcome.
Visualize a healthy arm/leg and/or the lymph nodes regrowing. Information on the power of the mind
The Lymphstar Pro produced by Arcturus Star products can reduce lymphedema (you may need a massage therapist certified in its use).
- Light treatment
Last but far from least: red light treatment
A site vistor affected by lymphedema following a double mastectomy sent in the following success report:
“I read some obscure research on the web that said that near infrared light (not far infrared light, which produces heat) can help with lymphedema.
There have been some clinical trials that indicate that it helps with itching, swelling, and infections. The frequency used is 670 nanometers.
I went to Amazon.com and ordered the Pretika Lightsonic hand held infrared light and started using it on my lymphedema of the arm, following breast cancer.
Lo and behold, the pain went away (temporarily) but the most amazing thing is that the fibrotic masses were greatly shrunken the next day.
The procedure is to shine the light for 1 to 2 minutes on each part of the affected limb about an inch above the skin, following the same path as the manual lymph drainage does, but using the red light. It takes me about 1 hour to cover my arm, under my breast, and across my chest. The next day, the fibrotic masses are much better. Pain goes away immediately. Not only does the red light kill pain, it also stimulates the breakdown of protein (so the swelling goes down) as well as the growth of new capillaries. The idea is to create new lymph channels, which the body does fairly easily.
Please let everyone know about this. It has helped me so much. Also, please make sure to emphasize that only near infrared light should be used, as blue light generates heat and will harm people with lymphedema. If they stick to the light I bought, they will be fine. It costs $40. I bought two of them, so I cut my time in half to cover my arm. I do that for an hour 3 days per week, and let it rest for a day in between light sessions.
My lymphedema is not progressing at all, thanks to daily manual lymph drainage and the Pretika Lightsonic light at amazon.com.
Everyone needs to know about it."
Note by Healing Cancer Naturally (updated December 2011):
The Pretika Lightsonic light has been unavailable at Amazon.com for some time. I have written to the Pretika company and they replied that they are "currently updating the LightSonic and will not be shipping until June 2011" (when I checked early November 2011 it was still not available at Amazon, and in December it was available for a short time only) .Please note that if you decide to buy this or any other articles after clicking on one of the above Amazon.com links, you are supporting Healing Cancer Naturally's humanitarian work at no extra cost to you since c. 6.5% of the purchase price goes to this site as a commission (more info at Support This Site).
Searching for an alternative/substitute comparable in price and specification I have found several light devices at Amazon that emit in the near-infrared range but most are much higher priced.
One however, does come very close to the Pretika: the Red LED Light Therapy 38 LED Bulb which emits at 660nm and is currently reduced to US$ 45.99 (like the Pretika, it is mostly advertised as a beauty treatment due to the effect of near-infrared light on skin collagen etc. [but don’t allow this to confuse you]; also similarly to the Pretika, it may not ship worldwide).
PS. I use emu oil as a carrier oil, and myrrh, frankincense, and ginger essential oils to promote lymph movement. So far, everything is working, but the light produces the most immediate results. Every day I use the light, the lumps disappear. They come back, but in a slightly different location,which tells me my body is establishing new lymph channels. By the way, the light also stimulates circulation. ... God Bless everyone with this side effect of surgery. This reaally helps."
(The following is excerpted from www.quantumeducation.com/coldlaser.html:)
Red Light and Lymphedema
Several years ago, a report on the use of red light therapy in the treatment of post-mastectomy secondary lymphedema was published in the journal Lymphology, and the results were promising. Women treated with red light therapy once or twice a week for 10 weeks showed measurably less arm swelling, edema volume, and tissue pressure, and marked improvement in subjective complaints, including “aches/pains, tightness, heaviness, cramps, pins/needles, and mobility of the arm,” with even greater improvement in the hand and forearm.
The women in the study also showed gradual softening of the skin and tissues, as well as improved skin integrity. Over a three-year period, some of the improvement in their symptoms gradually decreased, but their arm swelling, pressure, and hardness all continued to show improvement.
In a more recent, double-blind, placebo-controlled Australian study published in Cancer, 61 women with post-mastectomy lymphedema received 16 red light treatments twice a week for six weeks, then once a week for four weeks, for approximately 10 minutes each session. At the end of the 10 weeks, 31 percent of the women enjoyed a measurable decrease in swelling, volume of edema, and hardening of the upper arm. Plus, they enjoyed these benefits for an amazing six months after the red light treatments were discontinued.
Red light has also been shown to help activate the local immune system by stimulating the specific types of white blood cells that kill, consume, and/or carry away pathogens. This creates a more sanitary cellular environment, thereby reducing the risk of skin infections—a significant problem for women with lymphedema.
Finally, red light is reported to enhance the activity of phagocytes, cells that are thought to help reduce tissue swelling by breaking down protein-based debris in the damaged area, including excess scar tissue. The overall effect in the treatment of secondary lymphedema appears to be the creation of a healthier tissue environment, with faster regeneration of damaged vessels and enhanced circulation.
- More lymphedema advice
www.herbs2000.com/disorders/lymphedema.htm has a number of more suggestions and advice. For instance regarding the use of compression stockings in managing leg edema, taking oral coumarin drugs combined with external/topical coumarin application, the advisability of wearing a compression garment at higher altitudes etc.
Many complementary/alternative lymphedema treatment options together with more conventional ones involving surgery and microsurgery are discussed at www.lymphedemapeople.com, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, bandages and bandaging, benzopyrones treatment, Chi Machine, compression pump therapy, decongestive therapy, diuretics treatment, Endermologie Therapy, kinesiology, Kinesio Taping (R), laser treatment, light beam generator therapy, Lymphedema Treatment Programs Canada, lymphobiology, magnetic therapy, reflexology, short stretch bandages, wholistic treatment.
The best lymphedema prevention in my view seems to be not to resort to surgical/radiological interventions involving impairment, damage to or removal of the vital lymph nodes but to thoroughly seek out all non-invasive natural healing approaches first. See particularly Dr. Johanna Budwig’s Healing Diet & Protocol, Cancer Diet & Nutrition, Detoxification, Emotions, Energetics, Geopathic Stress, “Greatest Hits”, Galvanotherapy, Juicers & Juicing, Light Healing, Lothar Hirneise’s Cancer Research, Healing Cancer & Your Mind, Nature Heals, Dr. Hamer’s “German New Medicine”, Spirituality & Testimonials. If after careful consideration surgical/radiation treatment is deemed necessary, I would make sure that lymph nodes and lymphatic drainage are not impaired.
According to an alternative doctor (CAM), reducing inflammation throughout the body and keeping blood platelet count low are two of the best weapons in preventing lymphedema.
1 Compare St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) oil: cancer anecdotes and St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) & cancer: scientific research studies.
- Lymphedema: What Your Doctor May Not Have Told You About This Possible Serious Side Effect of Mastectomy, Lumpectomy or Radiation
- Lesser-Known Serious Potential Side Effects of Conventional Cancer Therapy: Chronic Radiation Enteritis, Chronic Radiation Proctitis