Edema

Edema is a condition characterized by abnormal amounts of excessive fluid (commonly water and sodium) buildup in the body. Usually the buildup of fluid occurs in the intercellular spaces, between the cells.

Edema usually occurs in the extremities, but it can also occur (in very slight amounts) in the brain when it is associated with allergies that cause the brain to swell and manifest as headaches, memory problems, learning disorders, or behavioral changes.

Symptoms of edema include bloating and swelling of the face, fingers, hands, legs, and, in its later stages, the abdomen. Symptoms may be very mild, causing rings on your fingers to feel tight or your face to feel puffy, or they may be severe enough to cause stretching and shininess of your skin, as well as overall weight gain.

Small amounts of fluid buildup can also occur elsewhere in the body, such as the spine (causing low back pain), the lungs (mimicking asthma/bronchitis), and the knees (mimicking arthritis), and should be a considered in a wide variety of health problems that do not respond to the normal treatments.

What To Consider

Edema can be caused by allergies, poor kidney excretion or secondary kidney problems related to protein absorption, vitamin B deficiencies, heart failure, or other liver and kidney disorders. All of these factors must be screened for and, if present, addressed, before long-term healing of edema can occur.

Air travel, travel to a new climate, and/or stress can also aggravate edema symptoms. Caution
If fluid accumulation creates such stretching and bagginess of your skin that pressure into it creating a "pit" - a condition known as pitting edema - a Health Guru should be consulted immediately as this may be a sign of a very serious health problem.

Self-Care Tips

Diet:
Eat and organic, whole foods diet, and avoid foods that tend to worsen edema symptoms, such as caffeine, alcohol, salt, fried foods, milk and dairy products, animal protein, sugar, processed grains, white flour, chocolate, olives, pickles, tobacco, and soy sauce. Whole grains and watery fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers, apples, potatoes, grapes, beets, onions, cabbage, and citrus, should be a regular part of your diet because these foods can help reduce fluid buildup and retention.

For a chronic edema conditions, also be sure to include diuretic foods in your diet such as celery, carrot, parsley, cilantro, cranberries, pomegranate, corn, barley, rye, and adzuki beans.

Nutritional Supplementation
The following nutrients are all helpful when seeking to prevent or reduce edema symptoms: vitamin B complex, vitamin B6, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and potassium. Free-form amino acids and alfalfa tablets can also be helpful.

Aromatherapy
Massage juniper, rosemary, geranium, or fennel essential oils onto the areas of the body that are most affected by fluid buildup.

Herbs
Diuretic herbs can help alleviate the symptoms of edema. One such herb is dandelion leaf, which is also a rich source of potassium. Dandelion helps replace the potassium that is flushed from the body via diuresis. Take one teaspoon of dandelion tincture three times a day, or an infusion of the fresh leaves three to five times a day. Horse-chestnut seed extract can also be helpful.

Hydrotherapy
Contrast application (hot and cold water packs, changed six to eight times during each treatment).

Juice Therapy
To help reduce swelling and fluid buildup, drink ears, pineapple, watermelon, and cranberry juice. Cucumber, parsley, celery, carrot, and dandelion is another helpful juice combination for edema.

Caution

If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional.

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