Traditional Chinese Medicine for Edema


From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, edema is considered as water excessively accumulated in the body. It can be caused by many factors. Many common causes of edema are related to lungs, kidneys and spleen. When these organs fail in their functions of transforming, transporting and distributing fluids, excess water overflows into the interstitial tissue in the muscle and the skin.

Edema usually affects the ankles, arms, face, feet and legs. Edema in different parts of the body can be caused by the same factor. TCM practitioners attempt to identify and eliminate the underlying deficiency and imbalance that cause edema by using herbal formula and acupuncture. Two common causes are excessive dampness and qi deficiency, wind and dampness.

Chinese Herbs for Edema

If edema is caused by excessive dampness and qi deficiency in spleen, the excessive water overflows into the skin. It can affect your face and other parts of your body. An herbal formula, Wu Pi San, also known as Five Peel Powder will be used. It contains herbs include Sheng Jiang Pi, Sang Bai Pi, Chen Pi, Da Fu Pi and Fu Ling Pi. If edema is caused by wind and dampness, it begins on the face and spreads to the limbs. An herbal formula, Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang will be used. It contains herbs include Huang Qi, Bai Zhu, Gan Cao and more.

1) Jia Ye Shu (Butcher's Broom) has been traditionally used to reduce leg swelling and edema in Chinese medicine.

Where to buy (amazon link): Butcher's Broom

How to use: Butcher's Broom is available in many different forms including liquid extract, powder and capsules.

2) Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion Root) can be helpful in reducing edema by eliminating water weight and increasing urination.

Where to buy (amazon link): Dandelion Root

How to use: Dandelion Root is available in many different forms including tea, liquid extract, powder and capsules.

3) Qi Ye Shu (Horse Chestnut) is a Chinese herb used for leg vein health. It can be used to strengthen the veins and suppress the veins to release water into the surrounding tissues.

Where to buy (amazon link): Horse Chestnut

How to use: Horse Chestnut is available in many different forms including cream, liquid extract, powder and capsules.

Acupuncture for Edema

TCM practitioners believe that acupuncture is very helpful for edema. It can assist with the reduction of fluid retention by encouraging blood flow and the movement of fluid throughout the body. This further helps to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Another study indicates that acupuncture alone and acupuncture with moxibustion can relieve edema symptoms, especially acupuncture with moxibustion therapy which is a procedure of moxibustion with a warming needle (1). Healthy diet is often recommended for edema. You should avoid eating too much salt. Packaged and processed foods are often high in salt.

If you are a do-it-yourself type, you can also try stimulating acupressure points for edema (face, feet, hands, legs) on your own.

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