Edema is the medical term for extra fluid that has accumulated in the body. Fluid that collects in the body sits in the space beneath the skin, causing swelling that can be both localized or widespread. Edema affecting the whole body is often due to weakness in the heart, liver, or kidneys, while when swelling is only in a limb or single area it can often be due to problems with the body’s lymphatic system. Some types of edema are recognized by their pitting quality: when you push down on a swollen area, it stays indented. It’s important to point out here that swelling can be due to a lot of other things too – from simple inflammation to autoimmune conditions or infections, so it’s important to determine the real underlying cause for what you have.
So if you have edema, can acupuncture of herbal medicine help? Yes!
Acupuncture can help by promoting the movement of blood & fluid in the body. Acupuncture has the ability to alter blood circulation, which can help move some extra fluid, but this is typically a minor action. Generally the role of acupuncture in treating edema – particularly for edema in the limbs – is to help reduce joint inflammation and increase a person’s mobility so that they can move easier. Movement of the joint helps to push fluid and lymph away from the contracting muscles and further up into the body where it can be reabsorbed.
Chinese herbal medicine offers a number of strategies to help with swelling, and is a better choice for treating edema in the center of the body. Most herbal formulas take a combined approach of helping promote movement of fluid in the body (particularly for when edema is in the limbs), and other herbs to help promote urination or open the sweat glands (to help the body get rid of the excess). If there is the beginnings of failure in the kidneys, liver, or heart, herbs can be added to a formula to help support these organs too.
If you have edema or a swelling that you haven’t been able to get control of, consider acupuncture and herbal medicine to help you out – particularly if you aren’t getting good suggestions for treatment from your MD. It’s easy – schedule your consultation today.