Chinese Medicine Treatment 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 treat 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

1) 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 prescribed. It contains herbs include Sheng Jiang Pi, Sang Bai Pi, Chen Pi, Da Fu Pi and Fu Ling Pi. 2) 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 prescribed. It contains herbs include Huang Qi, Bai Zhu, Gan Cao and more.

Other Chinese herbs that are considered beneficial for edema include Jia Ye Shu, Pu Gong Ying and Qi Ye Shu. Jia Ye Shu has been traditionally used to reduce leg swelling and edema in Chinese medicine. Pu Gong Ying can be helpful in reducing edema by eliminating water weight and increasing urination. Qi Ye Shu 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.

Acupuncture for Edema

TCM practitioners believe that acupuncture is very helpful in treating 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. Studies suggest that acupuncture can be effective for edema associated with organic diseases, such as post-stroke or heart failure, edema is significantly reduced after few treatments.

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 also the key of any TCM treatment 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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