Aug 1, 2008

Protein-Rich Fluid

If you find the term"protein rich fluid" confusing, here's some information that will help clear this matter up:

Lymphedema: Protein-Rich Lymph Fluid and the Roll of Dietary Protein

Since the fluid associated with lymphedema is protein-rich a question that often arises is, “Should I stop eating protein so there won’t be protein in this fluid?” The answer to this question is, No! Do not stop eating protein. It won’t solve your problem because proteins are essential nutrients.”

Dietary proteins are present in the foods we eat and are important to good health because:

· Proteins are the building blocks of the body.

· Proteins are the only nutrients that can repair worn-out tissue and build new ones.

· Proteins are used by the body in manufacturing hormones.

· Proteins have a role in building antibodies to fight infections.

· Proteins aid the blood in transporting oxygen and nutrients.

· Proteins are essential to the clotting of blood.

When There is a Shortage of Dietary Proteins

The goal for each individual should be to eat the appropriate amount of dietary protein to meet nutritional needs. This protein should come from a variety of sources, not only meat, and include only a minimum amount of fat.

When there are not enough dietary proteins available to meet the daily needs of the body, proteins are taken from the tissues and muscles to maintain the proper protein level of the blood. A severe shortage of dietary proteins will weaken connective tissues and causes them to swell. This is known as hunger edema and it can be seen in the swollen bellies of starving children.

Seriously restricting the intake of dietary protein in an effort to control the swelling of lymphedema does not help. It has just the opposite effect: It increases the amount of swelling that is present. It also weakens the muscles and other tissues.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA

National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Jul 20, 2008

Lymphadema and Nutrition

Another great post

There is no special diet that will prevent or control lymphedema; however, good nutrition promotes good health and this helps the body manage with the stresses related to lymphedema. The main recommendations are eat a low sodium diet and keep hydrated.

Eating a Balanced Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables is recommended for maintaining good general health. It also aids the body in coping with the added stress caused by lymphedema.

High salt foods, which encourage the body to retain fluids, are not part of a recommended healthy diet. High sodium foods cause the body to retain fluid in general, and will make the lymphedema swelling worse.

Staying Hydrated

The term hydrated describes the state of having adequate fluids in the body. Maintaining this state helps the body remove impurities from the blood and this is important to good health.

Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, is essential to maintaining this balance within the body. Cutting back on fluid intake in an effort to reduce the swelling of lymphedema doesn’t work! Instead of the desired effect, the protein-rich lymph of lymphedema attracts more fluid from the other parts of the body. This can cause increased swelling in the affected area.

Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is recommended to maintain good health; however this need increases in hot weather, or in very dry conditions, when the body looses fluids more rapidly.

Being well hydrated, by drinking plenty of water, is particularly important after an MLD or pump treatment because it is necessary to flush out the impurities that were moved during treatment.

Caffeine, which is a mild diuretic, reduces the level of body fluids by encouraging the kidneys to excrete more urine. For this reason caffeine containing substances (coffee, tea, chocolate and many soft drinks) should be consumed only in moderation.

Alcohol also has a diuretic effect that stimulates the kidneys to excrete more water and thereby increasing dehydration.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA

National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Jul 15, 2008

Basic Lymphadema Care Tips

Here's a great article about a couple basic things you can do to help with your lymphadema.

The first time I see a patient is for the evaluation. At the end of the evaluation I give my patients a packet of information to take home and read, instruct them in the Anatomy and Physiology of the Lymph System, and give them two things to get a head start on before we initiate our treatments. These two things are:

  1. Any time you wash, dry, or lotion the swollen arm/leg, always rub up towards the body/heart. What we generally do is rub up and down. The lymph system is very close to the surface and the normal pressure we use to do these every day activities of washing, drying and putting on lotion is enough to stimulate that lymph system, so move the direction we want the fluid to go.

  1. Deep Abdominal Breathing: The last tube of the Lymphatic system goes up through the chest passing through the Diaphragm. As we breathe the Diaphragm moves up and down massaging the lymph fluid up and into the Blood Circulatory System. Thus, by doing Deep Abdominal Breathing it creates a “wicking” effect, drawing the lymph fluid from the limbs and body.
  • Deep Abdominal Breathing: Place one hand on your chest, the other hand on your stomach just below the ribs. Breath in slowly through your nose – your chest should stay still while your stomach expands out. Then blow the air out through your mouth as if blowing out 50 birthday candles – your stomach should pull in. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale. Do 10 of these breaths as often as you can recall throughout the day. (If you start to feel light headed stop and breath normal. To not get light headed, pause for 2 seconds at the end of each inhale and each exhale.)

With these two activities I often see patients return to start treatment with some decrease in their swelling.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA

National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Jul 3, 2008

2008 Horizon of Hope

Longaberger Horizon of Hope to Raise Money for American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Initiatives

Horizon of Hope Products Available at 20 Percent Off for Limited Time

NEWARK, Ohio--The Longaberger Company is kicking off its 2008 Horizon of Hope campaign with a special offer that will enable customers to buy Horizon of Hope products at a 20 percent discount while also supporting American Cancer Society breast cancer research and education initiatives.

The campaign features a Horizon of Hope Basket and other products that Longaberger designs exclusively for the fundraising effort. Proceeds ($2 from each Horizon of Hope Basket, accessory set or set of travel mugs) go to the American Cancer Society.

The campaign is from July 1 through August 31, with the discount on Horizon of Hope products available from July 1 through July 16.

“It is our hope that we not only spur more awareness of this program that is bringing results in the fight against breast cancer, but that this promotional offer also acts as a catalyst to raise more money for the American Cancer Society,” said Julie Moorehead, Longaberger’s national executive director of sales.

Longaberger products can be purchased through independent Home Consultants nationwide or at Since Horizon of Hope’s inception in 1995, Longaberger, its Home Consultants and the American Cancer Society have raised approximately $13 million and reached an estimated 19 million women with potentially life-saving information.

“Our company and our Home Consultants are passionate about Horizon of Hope because we’ve seen first-hand how we are together making a difference,” Moorehead said. “We’re proud to support the American Cancer Society.”

Horizon of Hope supports American Cancer Society programs aimed at improving the quality of and access to mammography services, breast imaging quality standards, the quality of clinical breast examinations, and the quality of life for young survivors and women with breast cancer recurrence. It also supports research into lymphedema, a debilitating swelling of the arms that can be a side effect of breast cancer treatment. To learn more, visit

Founded in 1973, The Longaberger Company is America’s premier maker of handcrafted baskets and offers a variety of home and lifestyle products, including pottery, wrought iron and fabric accessories. There are approximately 45,000 independent Home Consultants in all U.S. states who sell Longaberger products directly to customers.


The Longaberger Company
Tom Matthews, 740-322-5157

Jul 1, 2008

The first time I see a patient is for the evaluation. At the end of the evaluation I give my patients a packet of information to take home and read, instruct them in the Anatomy and Physiology of the Lymph System, and give them two things to get a head start on before we initiate our treatments. These two things are:

  1. Any time you wash, dry, or lotion the swollen arm/leg, always rub up towards the body/heart. What we generally do is rub up and down. The lymph system is very close to the surface and the normal pressure we use to do these every day activities of washing, drying and putting on lotion is enough to stimulate that lymph system, so move the direction we want the fluid to go.

  1. Deep Abdominal Breathing: The last tube of the Lymphatic system goes up through the chest passing through the Diaphragm. As we breathe the Diaphragm moves up and down massaging the lymph fluid up and into the Blood Circulatory System. Thus, by doing Deep Abdominal Breathing it creates a “wicking” effect, drawing the lymph fluid from the limbs and body.
    • Deep Abdominal Breathing: Place one hand on your chest, the other hand on your stomach just below the ribs. Breath in slowly through your nose – your chest should stay still while your stomach expands out. Then blow the air out through your mouth as if blowing out 50 birthday candles – your stomach should pull in. Your exhale should be twice as long as your inhale. Do 10 of these breaths as often as you can recall throughout the day. (If you start to feel light headed stop and breath normal. To not get light headed, pause for 2 seconds at the end of each inhale and each exhale.)

With these two activities I often see patients return to start treatment with some decrease in their swelling.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA

National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Jun 27, 2008

Healthy Skin Maintainance

Another Great Article:

Maintaining healthy skin is essential for those with lymphedema because intact skin, with no scrapes or cuts, prevents bacteria from entering and causing infection.

The swelling of lymphedema stretches the skin and disrupts the skin’s basic protective mechanisms. Also, as lymphedema increases in severity the skin loses its elasticity, becomes thicker and scaly, and is increasingly at risk.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin. This decreases blood flow, which depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients (such as vitamin A) that are important to skin health.

These factors increase damage to the elastic fibers (elastin) and collagen, which give your skin strength and elasticity. When skin is already challenged by the damage of lymphedema, these additional stresses make the condition worse.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA

National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Jun 16, 2008

Lymphadema and Infections

Skin infections are something that people with Lymphadema deal with on a regular basis. Here is a good article with information about infections, and especially cellulitis which can become life threatening if left untreated.

Infections that can develop within the affected tissues are a serious complication associated with lymphedema. The risk of infection increases when lymphedema is not controlled by proper treatment and appropriate precautions.

The risks of lymphedema related infections are due to:

  • The swelling of lymphedema compromises the health of the skin.
  • Protein-rich stagnant lymph within these swollen tissues creates an environment that pathogens love!
  • The deep skin folds resulting from the lymphedema are an ideal breeding ground for fungal infections.


Cellulitis (sell-you-LYE-tis) is an infection that spreads freely, and quickly within the deeper tissues of the skin. Cellulitis becomes a life-threatening emergency when it spreads through the lymphatic or circulatory systems and can reach vital organs and other body parts.

Cellulitis is usually caused by the bacteria staphylococcus aureus that normally live on the skin. Any break in the skin, no matter how small, provides an opening for them to march in, multiply, and thrive. Even a simple act such as shaving a swollen leg could be an invitation to infection.

Symptoms of Cellulitis

  • Malaise (a general sense of not feeling well)
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Chills and fever
  • Discoloration (redness, or streaky red lines)
  • Rash
  • Tissues that feel hot and tender
  • Sudden swelling
  • Itching
  • Pain

This type of infection requires prompt treatment with antibiotics. See a Physician immediately if you think you may have a Cellulitis infection in a Lymphatic limb!!

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA

Apr 10, 2008

Article on Swelling

This article was featured at "The Hook." I thought some of you might be interested in it. There is also some interesting issues and questions being raised in the comments section. It would be worth checking out.

DR. HOOK- Big head: Swelling of parts has many causes

published April 10, 2008

Ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer must have had a pretty big ego to think he could hire prostitutes and not get caught. Hello! But then again, it seems most powerful people get a swollen head and feel untouchable-- until they get a swollen lip when they get caught. Perhaps if the head did visibly swell up, it would keep people "in check" because it would be pretty unattractive.

Swelling, in medical terms, is called edema and occurs when fluid from the blood vessels leak into the soft tissues, such as into the legs, arms, lungs, and belly. Not sure what edema is like? Talk to a woman with PMS who's puffy all over-- and be sure to give her flowers.

Legs are the most likely place to have edema. People often complain their socks leave dents in their shins and calves, like a Tempur-Pedic mattress, a condition called "pitting edema." The edema can be uncomfortable from the tension. If the edema goes into the feet, wearing shoes can become difficult (yes, Imelda Marcos).

There are many causes of edema, but a big ego is not one of them. For the legs, poorly working veins are often the issue. If the blood doesn't go up the veins, the blood will pool in the legs and start to leak fluid. That's why folks with leg swelling often start the morning with thin legs-- lying in bed reduces the blood in the legs. Then being upright all day, gravity keeps blood down in the legs, and they begin to swell. In a worse-case scenario, a blood clot (DVT: deep venous thrombosis) backs up the pipes. A DVT usually causes fast edema and on one leg, and this requires immediate medical attention.

Poor lymphatics can lead to lymphedema. For example, a mastectomy with lymph node exploration can lead to permanent arm edema. Lymphedema (as well as edema due to thyroid disease) doesn't cause a pitting edema. (It's more of a Serta mattress.)

Salt! We all hear too much sodium (found in table salt) isn't good for us, and this is especially true for those with edema. If the kidneys can't excrete enough sodium, the pressure in the blood vessels pushes fluid into the soft tissue. It's like when I eat too many salty French fries on a hot day at an amusement park and my fingers swell up. Fluid depletion, like on a hot day in the park, can make the kidneys retain salt and water to worsen edema. Good working kidneys are important to prevent the body from swelling up like a sumo wrestler.

The heart pumps blood through the body-- and in particular to the kidneys-- for proper filtration. People with a weak heart, such as in congestive heart failure, can experience edema. If pulmonary edema occurs, the fluid in the lungs makes it hard to breathe, in particular when lying down, because blood pools in the lungs and they leak fluid. If it's bad enough, the person may have to sleep sitting up in a chair.

Cirrhosis of the liver can cause terrible edema throughout the body, but in particular the belly (ascites). The ascites often requires drainage via a needle. Also, protein levels can drop with cirrhosis, which leads to more edema.

Treatment for edema can be tricky. Compression stockings, exercise, and elevation of the legs might not create Betty Grable gams, but they can be pretty effective. Vascular surgeons can treat poorly working veins. Diuretics can help but also worsen edema depending on the underlying problem, so it's a balancing act.

For politicians with a big head, a little humble pie (minus any salt) might be the best treatment of all. Wouldn't that be swell?

Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice. Email him with your questions.

Apr 8, 2008

Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema

If you have come here wondering what lymphedema is, or wondering if you could possibly be developing it, here is a brief overview of symptoms that could indicate lymphedema.

Mostly a persons History, Observations, Measurements, Signs and Symptoms diagnose Lymphedema. These include:

  • Swelling of a limb or body part.
  • Swelling that is pitting in nature (pressure leaves an indentation (pit) that slowly fills in again).
  • Swelling worsens over time.
  • Sensation of heaviness and fatigue in the swollen limb.
  • A dull aching in the limb.
  • Repeated episodes of infection (Cellulitis).
  • Clothing or Shoes do not fit.

There are a couple of studies that have been used to evaluate the lymphatic system, though not commonly used.

  • Lymphoscintigraphy - a water-based contrast medium, which does not damage lymphatic tissues, makes it possible for a gamma camera to trace the flow of lymph. A computer generates images based on the data gathered by the gamma camera.
  • Lymphangiography - A radiographic study of lymphatic structures following the injection of an oil-based contrast medium. (The purpose of the contrast medium is to make the lymph vessels and nodes visible on the x-rays.) This oil-based substance damages lymphatic vessels and this procedure is no longer used in the diagnosis of lymphedema.

A thorough history and evaluation is best at deciphering Lymphedema, and if further studies are indicated your therapist will consult with your physician to get them done.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA
National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Apr 2, 2008

Reality Check

Sometimes when you're feeling bad about your situation and the struggles you face with lymphedema, sometimes you just need a little perspective on things.

Apr 1, 2008

The Best Medicine

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
–E.E. Cummings

Mar 25, 2008

Lymphatic Fluid

Many people that I meet are puzzled by lymphadema. They usually ask me right away if a doctor can prescribe something that will remove the fluid. In my head I'm usually wanting to scream, "WOW what a mind blowing thought! Do you honestly not think I've already thought of THAT?!" but because I was raised with manners, I control myself and explain that the fluid that builds up in lymphedema isn't just "water" and can't be treated with diuretics. It's important to understand this because if you suffer with lymphedema you will probably have to explain this to many people in your life.

A really wonderful website called "Lymphedema People" has this very well written information about diuretics. Please visit this site for lots of wonderful information and support.
To understand why these agents are not recommended for the treatment of lymphedema we must first start with a basic definition of edema and lymphedema.

Edema: Abnormal pooling or build up of fluid in tissues. Generally caused by underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, varicose veins, thrombophlebitis, congestive heart failure, kidney failure steroid therapy, inflammatory reactions, or injury or trauma.

Diuretics are used to assist in the correction of the base problem causing the edema.

Lymphedema: A disorder in which “lymph” collects usually in a limb as a result of a congenital, hereditary malformation of the lymphatic system, or is a result secondary conditions such as node removal for biopsies, damage to the lymphatics from radiation, injury or trauma or by parasitic infection. Diuretics cannot help the underlying condition of lymphedema.

Why not use diuretics for lymphedema?

Perhaps the single most important consideration is in the composition of the lymph fluid caused by lymphedema. The fluid is a protein-rich substance that provides a breeding and nourishment center for bacteria. This has to be removed to lesson the risks of cellulitis and lymphangitis.

This fluid also has to be removed so as to prevent the formation and progression of fibrosis as lymphedema advances through the various stages.

Diuretics remove none of this waste fluid."

Lymphedema People founder Pat O'Connor also gives this advice to people whose doctors may recommend diuretics to treat lymphadema,

"Please, please don't get a diuretic to treat the lymphedema. Diuretics will in the long run make the lymphedema worse. They remove the water, but are unable to remove the heavier waste proteins in that fluid. That will cause tissue hardening, more swelling and even more susceptibility to infections.

Tell the doctor (don't ask - tell) that you want a referral to a Certified Lymhpedema Therapist."

Mar 20, 2008

This is bit of a refresher - but it's always good to keep a focus on the root of a problem if you are looking for solutions, so here it is again . . .


Many have never heard of the Lymphatic System, let alone Lymphedema. So before talking of Lymphedema we need to take a look at what the Lymph System is and how it works.

When we take a look at the body from the outside in, we have our skin, just below that is our layer of fat, and then under that is our Lymph System (comprised of lymph collectors/capillaries, vessels that lead to the deeper lymphatic vessels along which pathway are the lymph nodes), and this over lays our muscles. The blood capillary system comes into the area between the fat layer and the lymph capillaries and releases the nutrients to the skin and surface tissues of the body. It is a clear fluid including a lot of proteins. As the blood leaves, it takes back 90% of what it dropped off- most of the clear fluid and the smallest particles. The other 10% of clear fluid (with the larger particles of proteins/cell debris/medications we’ve taken/etc.) makes up the lymph fluid. The human body produces approximately 2 liters of lymph fluid every day.

The Lymph Nodes are the “garbage disposals” of the system that filter and breaks down all those particles, balancing the solid to liquid consistency. Also, they manufacture white blood cells for our immune system. The last tube of the lymph system goes up through the chest and dumps the lymph fluid into the blood system just above the heart. There the lymph fluid joins the blood, being further filtered through the liver and kidneys, and then passing out of the body through urine.

In brief, the Lymphatic System is a network of vessels, tissues, and organs in vertebrate animals that helps the body regulate fluid balance and fight infection.

Lymphedema is when an area of the body swells due to the collection of lymph fluid. This can be any part of the body: arm, foot, leg, breast, abdomen, head, face, chest wall, genitals…The lymph fluid builds up when the lymph system has in some way become impaired. Causes of an impaired Lymph System include:

  • Treatment of lymph node removal and radiation for cancer: this reduces the amount of fluid the lymph system is able to transport per unit of time, and can lead to Lymphedema right away, or years down the road.
  • Scar tissue from trauma or surgery: Trauma from injury or surgery if it blocks or affects the lymph flow.
  • Congenital malformation: some people are born with a lymphatic system that was not developed fully. This can show up at birth, within the first year of life, in the teen years, or as an adult fallowing a somewhat minor injury.
  • Venus insufficiency: if the veins are not returning the blood as efficiently as they should, then the blood system is not taking bake its 90% of the clear high protein fluid it releases to nourish the skin and surface tissues as the blood pools, and that means more than 10% is remaining for the lymph system to transport. The lymph system can step up to the plate for a while, even years, but over time it gets tired and gradually is unable to keep up. Veins can become stressed to insufficiency due to obesity, pregnancy, blood clots, or simple genetics.

The cause of the lymphedema, and other medical conditions the person may have, need to be taken into consideration during treatment, but the basic treatment is the same for all.

Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA
National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Mar 18, 2008

Living with Lymphedema

This is a really good video posted on youtube by Earl Chicoine from Montreal who tells what it's like to live with lymphedema of the legs, a debilitating disease caused from a build-up of lymph fluid under the skin.

I found the video very poignant and touching.

Mar 11, 2008

In An Unlikely Place

The other day I happened to be perusing paper dolls online, for a reason that has nothing to do with lymphadema, when I discovered these paperdolls which made me do a double take.

Now, I'm not saying the dolls have bilateral lower extremity lymphedema and possibly lipedema - but take a look at them for yourself and you tell me!

I just had to share them with you.

Mar 7, 2008

Marilyn Wesstbrook Garment Fund

This was posted by the National Lymphadema Network's Executive Director Saskia R.J. Thiadens, R.N. and may be helpful information for someone needing financial help with compression garments.

The Marilyn Wesstbrook Garment Fund

An Introduction

It is with tremendous pleasure that I introduce the NLN Garment Fund.
This is a dream that has come true not only for me, but for our many
patients who do not have insurance or the financial means to purchase
the much needed compression stocking(s)/ sleeve(s) . It was Marilyn
Westbrook's choice to make sure that no other patients have to endure
the pain and frustrations she went through six months prior to her
passing (Dec 23, 2007). Marilyn and her husband Doyle donated a
sunstantial amount of money to the NLN which will allow patients who
qualify to pay for their garment(s). In order to qualify you will
need to be an NLN member and submit an application; an online
application will be published very soon. For more information please
contact our office.

For those of you that would like to and are able to contribute to the
fund, you can make a check directly to the NLN and identify "Marilyn
Westbrook Fund". The NLN can also accept donations of other personal
assets, such as stocks from your investment portfolio. If you would
like to learn more about how you can donate and the substantial
benefits to you personally as a donor, please call the NLN.

With the increased restriction of our health insurance and federal
laws it is heartwarming to know that we will be able to assist a
percentage of the many patients. This fund will help make sure
patients wear the much needed garments to maintain their quality of
life. Let's all applaud Marilyn and her family and thank them for
this HUGE gift.

- Saskia R.J. Thiadens, R.N., Executive Director

Establishing the Marilyn Westbrook Fund
By Doyle Westbrook

Marilyn was always a fighter. With her first cancer she went the
route of traditional treatment including, surgery, chemotherapy and
radiation in an effort to beat the cancer quickly so she could be
there for her children. Throughout the course of treatment, she
remained strong and supportive of her children.

With the latest round, chemotherapy was not an option; her experience
with the maximum dose of radiation in the previous battle proved to
her that its debilitating affect on her healing made it not an
option. Marilyn decided to embark on a non-traditional complimentary
method of treatment.

The cancer metastasized; while the alternative therapy was helping
her gain amazing physical healing, including helping the surgical
scars from her first surgery as well as the latest hysterectomy fade
away, she had two more out-patient surgeries to remove cancerous
lymph nodes. Now her concern was managing the likely lymphedema and
she asked our HMO to let her talk to one of their lymphedema
specialists. The result of her attempt to minimize potential
lymphedema was a wrong prescription for a compression garment that
actually accelerated the lymphedema.

The immediate impact was that in early January 2007, she had to stop
her complimentary treatment. While we were still searching for a way
to treat the cancer, her focus had to be on the more immediate
problem of the worsening lymphedema. It was getting so bad that by
March I was asking my youngest daughter to schedule her wedding no
later than July of 2007. In June, the wedding was scheduled for
September 9th.

We had found a lymphedema massage specialist outside of our HMO, but
traveling back from the clinic undid all the benefits of the manual
lymph drainage massage. While looking through a year-old community
phone book, Marilyn found an ad for Michelle Coxon, who was not only
a certified specialist but she was willing to come to our house.

Even so, in between Michelle's daily weekday visits, especially on
the weekend, Marilyn's left leg would puff way up. I was getting
concerned that she wouldn't be able to attend the wedding even if she
did make it to that day.

Early in the treatment provided by Michelle, Marilyn became
practically bedridden; this was due to the lymphedema in her leg.
Michelle knew of a miracle worker named Don Kellogg, and arranged for
him to see her. Don brought in a wheelchair pad so she could see the
material he would use to make her leg appliance. It brought her so
much relief while lying in bed, that she asked to keep it; he let
her. Then Don went home and sewed up her leg appliance overnight.

He brought it back the next day. After just one partial day of use,
she was back up and walking in our house.

Unfortunately, the treatment for lymphedema was not a treatment for
cancer. Marilyn succumbed to the cancer on December 23, 2007 . She
was wearing a second much smaller appliance right up until the end as
it helped reduce the pain.

Don has stayed in touch as he lost his wife in very similar
circumstances. It was his experiences with her lymphedema that led
him to develop these custom appliances and start his own company,
Telesto Medtech. They are not compression garments. Their
directional stitching literally wicks the lymph away from the
impacted area to the healthier portions, even secondary channels, of
the lymph system.

When I asked how I could honor Marilyn by helping, I learned that
many insurance companies don't recognize this miracle appliance as a
medical device. Even after using profits from the payments he does
receive towards helping other people with lymphedema, there are still
so many more people who need the help but can't get it. A child born
with an impaired lymph system can need as many as 30 appliances
before the growing stops.

Don suggested that I contact Saskia Thiadens, RN at the National
Lymphedema Network to see whether something special could be done to
help more people get this miracle. Saskia was very receptive and
together we formed the Marilyn Westbrook Fund. It has the same
charitable donation status as donations to the National Lymphedema
Network do. The National Lymphedema Network will dispense the money
the fund has available to deserving individuals to acquire lymphedema
appliances, compression sleeves/stockings and alternative garments.
Donations can be made to the fund by giving to the "National
Lymphedema Network for the benefit of Marilyn Westbrook's Fund." See
the mention on page for more information on how to contribute and be
a part of the fund.

Thank you Don. Marilyn would have succumbed to an infection from the
lymphedema much earlier than she did had you not entered our lives.
You extended, as well improved her quality of life so much that you
made it possible for her to attend her daughter's wedding, enjoy
Thanksgiving with her daughter's new in-laws, and meet her son's
girlfriend's, now fiancée's, mother. She is survived by her three
children, two sisters, brother, mother, and husband.

In loving memory,
Doyle Westbrook

Mar 6, 2008

Lastest Developments

I'm always on the lookout for new lymphadema treatments or studies - hope springs eternal and all that! I'm certainly not giving up and I want to remain open about treatment options. I saw a few things recently in the news that intrigued me so I thought I would share them.

The first thing is 10 year study that was done on lymph "replacement" surgery, where lymph nodes were harvested from "healthy" areas of a persons lymph system and replanted into the areas that were not functioning properly. It's an interesting idea - I'm not sure I'm convinced it would work because I worry that the area where the lymph nodes are harvested from may develop lymphadema, and believe me, I want to keep the swelling down wherever I can!

Lymphatic Tissue Transplant in Lymphedema—A Minimally Invasive, Outpatient, Surgical Method: A 10-Year Follow-up Pilot Study

Lymphedema is mainly characterized by swelling, fibrosis, and nonpitting edema. The aim of this study was evaluation of the long-term (10 years) effects of autologus lymphatic tissue implant in lymphedema. Lymphatic tissue from 9 patients (harvested form the same patient in areas not affected by lymphedema) was reimplanted into the affected limb, and these patients were followed for 10 years. Lymph nodes were harvested at the neck, axillary, or inguinal space (contralateral limb). Results showed that limb volume was decreased in the treatment group vs. controls. In ultrasound, black, low density, lymphatic spaces were visible in 100% of patients at inclusion but in only 23% of these subjects at 10 years. Thus, this early report proposes a new, minimally invasive method to improve lymphedema. Studies in progress will indicate the role of lymphatic transplant in the management of lymphedema and the best indications for this method.

Angiology, Vol. 59, No. 1, 77-83 (2008)
DOI: 10.1177/0003319707308564
© 2008 SAGE Publications

Another interesting article I ran across discussed the using of honey for wound dressing. The wounds would be from any number of causes from burns to lymphedema, especially leg ulcers. I find this a very interesting idea, especially because I have been trying some "alternative" treatments for my lymphadema. This press release looks like it's from some pharmaceutical company or medical supply company, but perhaps you could ask your therapist about this treatment or research the curative effect of honey on wounds for yourself.

PRINCETON, N.J., March 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Derma Sciences, Inc. (BULLETIN BOARD: DSCI) , a provider of advanced wound care products, announced today that seven abstracts detailing the clinical usage of its newly released MEDIHONEY Wound & Burn Dressings with Active Leptospermum Honey were accepted for presentation at the upcoming annual Symposium on Advanced Wound Care conference, held this year between April 24 - 27 in San Diego, CA. Additionally, the company has announced that two of the abstracts will be presented as oral presentations to a general assembly of the conference attendees.

Chairman and CEO Ed Quilty said, "MEDIHONEY dressings continue to receive positive levels of acceptance by clinicians worldwide and has become the most talked about treatment for hard-to-heal wounds in many forums. Having several abstracts related to MEDIHONEY dressing accepted in the largest annual international conference of its kind validates our very high expectations, and helps to further our goal of advancing wound care by uncovering technological innovations, empowering caregivers, and focusing on unmet patient needs."

The abstracts include the following:

"The Importance of Medical Grade Honey Rather than Table Honey in the Treatment of Wounds"; Cooper RA, Jenkins L, Rowlands R. (oral presentation)

"The Inhibition of Biofilms of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa with Manuka Honey"; Cooper RA, Jenkins L, Rowlands R. (oral presentation)

"Manuka Honey Alginate Wound Dressing Facilitates Healing Of Chronic Diabetic Lower Extremity Ulcerations"; Robert Frykberg, DPM, MPH, Arthur Tallis, DPM, Cherese Thomas-Ramoutar, DPM, Edward Tierney, DPM.

"Comparison of Honey-Impregnated Calcium Alginate Dressings to Non-Impregnated Calcium Alginate Dressings on Wound Healing"; Catherine T. Milne, APRN, MSN, CWOCN; Connecticut Clinical Nursing Associates, LLC, Bristol Hospital Wound, Ostomy, Lymphedema Center, Bristol, CT.

"It Looks Like Honey. It Smells Like Honey. Yes, It Is Honey!"; Becky Strilko, RN, BSN, CWOCN, APN, Christine Barkauskas, RN, BA, CWOCN, APN, Andrea Mcintosh, RN, BSN, CWOCN, APN, Noreen Reaney, RN, BSN, Wound Ostomy and Continence Student, Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, Joliet, IL.

"The Influence of Catalase on the Antibacterial Activity of Honey"; Cooper RA, Jenkins L, Rowlands R.

"The Effects of a Leptospermum Honey Dressing on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Biofilms Using a Well Established Porcine Wound Infection model"; Stephen C. Davis, Yan Rivas, Joel Gil, Roberto Perez, Jose Valdes, Robert Kirsner, Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida.

About Derma Sciences

Derma Sciences is a global manufacturer and marketer of advanced wound-care products. Its key product, MEDIHONEY, is sold throughout the world by Derma Sciences and Comvita New Zealand -- the licensor of the patented honey-based technology -- and is the leading brand of honey-based dressings for the management of wounds and burns. The product has been shown to be effective in a variety of wounds and burns, and was recently the focus of two positive large-scale randomized controlled studies on leg ulcers. For more information about Derma Sciences, Inc., visit its home page on the Internet at

About the SAWC

The SAWC is the Annual Symposium for the Association for Advancement of Wound Care and the Wound Healing Society Meeting. It is an annual conference specifically dedicated to the wounds and wound-related issues. The largest conference of its kind drawing attendees from all over the world, the meeting is an informational hub for multidisciplinary wound care clinicians and researchers. The SAWC/WHS comprises four days of educational sessions, meetings, interactive events, and social gatherings, including a pre- and post-conference.

Forward-looking Statements

Statements contained in this release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, words such as "may," "will," "expect," "believe," "anticipate," "intend," "could," "estimate" or "continue" are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned that certain important factors may affect the Company's actual results and could cause such results to differ materially from any forward-looking statements which may be made in this release or which are otherwise made by or on behalf of the Company. Factors which may affect the Company's results include, but are not limited to, product demand, market acceptance, impact of competitive products and prices, product development, completion of an acquisition, commercialization or technological difficulties, the success or failure of negotiations and trade, legal, social and economic risks. Additional factors that could cause or contribute to differences between the Company's actual results and forward-looking statements Include but are not limited to, those discussed in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Contact: Derma Sciences Inc Allen & Caron Inc Edward J. Quilty Rudy Barrio (US Investors) Chairman and CEO (609) 514-4744 Brian Kennedy (media) (212) 691-8087

Derma Sciences, Inc.

Mar 2, 2008

Lymphadema Fact Sheet

Bob Weiss, lymphactivist, has drafted a basic fact sheet for lymphadema. Here is his list:

  • There are between two and eight million lymphedema sufferers in the U.S.
  • Lymphedema is a swelling of a limb or part of the body that is caused by a functional inability of the lymphatic system to transport intercellular lymphatic fluid back to the circulatory system.
  • Lymphedema can affect the arms, legs, breast, back, abdomen, groin, genitalia and/or internal organs.
  • Congenital (primary) lymphedema is caused by a malformed lymphatic system and can be present at birth, develop at puberty, or onset in later years.
  • Secondary lymphedema can be caused by trauma to the lymphatic system, disease/infection, or parasites.
  • Secondary lymphedema is common as a result of cancer treatment (breast, prostate, reproductive, melanoma) or as a result of vein harvesting for coronary arterial by-pass operations.
  • Treatment procedures have been developed in Europe over the last 30 years, but have only been accepted by American medicine the last 10 years.
  • The current standard of treatment for lymphedema is called "complex or complete decongestive therapy" and has been the recommended protocol in Europe since 1995 (International Society of Lymphology) and in the U.S. since 1998 (American Cancer Society Lymphedema Workshop).
  • Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a multi-modal treatment that comprises ALL of the following modalities:
    1. Manual lymph drainage
    2. Compression therapy (bandage systems, compression garments, manually-adjustable compression devices)
    3. Lymph stimulating exercises while under compression
    4. Meticulous skin care
  • Today there are a number of schools that train medical practitioners in the protocols of CDT, and there is now a certification agency (LANA) that sets minimum training criteria.
  • Pneumatic compression pumps may be beneficial as an adjunct to CDT but should never be used in its absence.
  • Medicare has no national medical policy for the treatment of lymphedema and routinely denies coverage for the treatment components.
  • Some states have lymphedema treatment policies and will cover manual lymph drainage, but only as rehabilitative physical therapy and not as medical treatment.
  • Many patients have had Medicare denials for compression bandage systems and compression garments reversed by Medicare Administrative Law Judges, but only after many expensive appeals.
  • Treatment of lymphedema has been shown to reduce and eliminate the incidence of infection (cellulitis and lymphangitis) encouraged by stagnant lymph.
  • It can be demonstrated that proper treatment of lymphedema and compliance by patients with the daily protocols is not only good medicine, but it is good business (i.e., reducing or eliminating hospital stays by preventing recurrent infections).
  • There is a need for basic research into the lymphatic system, its functioning, pathologies, genetics and treatment.
  • There is a crying need to educate the medical community, medical insurance community and the public on the current medical standard of treatment of lymphedema.

Feb 24, 2008

The Lymphadema / Lipedema Connection

Many people who suffer from lymphadema may also have a condition called "lipedema" which is deifined in Wikipedia as "a disorder of adipose tissue distinguished by five characteristics: 1) it can be inherited; 2) it occurs almost exclusively in women; 3) it can occur in women of all sizes, from the anorexic to the morbidly obese; 3) it involves the excess deposit and expansion of fat cells in an unusual and particular pattern – bilateral, symmetrical and usually from the waist to a distinct line just above the ankles; and 4) unlike the “normal” fat of obesity, lipedemic fat cannot be lost through diet and exercise.

Lipedema usually is triggered at puberty, but can trigger or worsen during or after pregnancy, at peri-menopause, and following gynecological surgery. If lipedema is diagnosed early, which currently is very rare, it is possible to prevent a significant expansion of lipedemic fat cells, and to alert patients to their heightened risk for obesity so they can take appropriate action.

Estimates of the incidence of lipedema vary widely, and range as high as 11% of the post-puberty female population. Even if the number were only 5%, that would mean more than 6 million women in the United States alone."

The Wikipedia article also goes on to state that "Patients tend to gain weight in lipedemic areas and lose it in non-lipedemic areas. Obese lipedema patients who undergo bariatric surgery lose fat primarily from the waist up. Even anorexic women can starve and exercise away "normal" fat but retain lipedemic fat.

The classic early-stage lipedemic profile is a woman who looks like a size 8 from the waist up and a size 16 from the waist down with disproportionately large, column-like legs. As lipedema progresses, patients become increasingly heavy in the lower body. The additional, expanding fat cells interfere with the pathways of lymphatic vessels, and patients can develop secondary lymphedema, a condition known as lipo-lymphedema. Many lipedema patients cannot tolerate the compression garments associated with conventional lymphedema treatment because the underlying lipedemic fat is very painful, and those patients therefore are at risk for the side effects of uncontrolled lymphedema, including recurring blood infections and fibrosis.

Women with lipedema also are at very high risk for obesity because the lipedemic fat cannot be lost, and because as the condition worsens, patients become progressively less mobile."

Many people who suffer from lipedema may not realize that they have this condition. It is also difficult to get a diagnosis from a medical doctor, as they may not be aware what this condition is, or have little knowlege of it. If you think you have this problem, it might be best to seek out a lymphedema specialist who can help you with diagnosis and treatment options.

The following is an interesting article that ran last summer in the Victoria Times:

Being seriously overweight can be depressing, emotionally upsetting and socially stressful.

It can hurt, too, when a person suffers from a condition called lipedema, also known as painful fat syndrome.

"Lipedema is not related to overeating," stresses Robert Harris, director of this city's Dr. Vodder School, and an expert in fluid retention and acute swelling.

"People can starve themselves, have surgery, take slimming pills and nothing helps," he says of the chronic condition that occurs in females almost exclusively. It is characterized by symmetrical fatty-tissue buildup and swelling, from hips to lower legs.

The syndrome was first identified in 1940 and since then has mostly been studied and written about in Europe, says Harris, whose school is teaching ways to reduce this edema (swelling) through massage and application of strong elastic bandages or garments -- a therapy that began in Germany.

"It is seriously underdiagnosed in North America, but starting to be recognized."

The cause is unclear, and there is no cure for the condition that experts say affects at least one in 2,000. Researchers believe it might be genetically linked, however, with a connection to hormones, microcirculation and inflammation. Harris adds it is different from lymphedema, the swelling complication that can result from cancer surgery, radiation and damage to lymph nodes.

"I have a very deep, achy feeling in my legs," says a 28-year-old Victoria woman who asks not to be identified, but has suffered from severely swollen lower limbs since age 12. "My mother had it, too. I can't stand too long, and it's very sore if someone bumps me or touches my legs."

For years she tried all kinds of slimming programs but to no avail. Then a year ago she was diagnosed with lipedema and discovered the massage therapy that is helping reduce both pain and swelling.

Three world authorities in lipedema management and treatment are in Victoria this week, offering workshops through the Dr. Vodder School to about 50 massage therapists, physiotherapists and health professionals from around North America. On Sunday morning, anyone with the condition can attend a free session at St. Margaret's School auditorium, 1080 Lucas Ave. (For health professionals the cost is $25.)

It starts at 8:30 a.m. with research updates by Dr. Horst Weissleder, professor of radiology at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He has published more than 200 articles about radiology, nuclear medicine and lymphology in international medical journals, and co-authored Lymphedema Diagnosis and Therapy.

After his talk, Angela Vollmer, an expert in fitting compression garments, will discuss lipedema and compression garments.

"This is a very painful condition, and people can diet, diet, diet and it doesn't help," she explains. "Why? Because it is an illness, and not caused by excess calorie consumption. These people need lymph drainage treatment (massage) to remove excess liquid, and compression hose -- either Bermuda or Capri length stockings -- to keep the swelling down. With this treatment they don't see a great reduction in volume, but there is a great decrease in pain and improved quality of life."

The buildup of lymphatic liquid is what creates the pressure and pain, and garments, made of flat-knit material, should be used for compression.

"These new garments do not constrict circulation and distribute even pressure to a large surface.

The wide weave allows air to flow, which makes daily wear more bearable for the patient and there is micromassage through movement, which supports the decongestive therapy," she says.

In recent years, she says, German experts have also developed new liposuction techniques to help dissolve fatty tissue, "and very fine needles to take out the liquid quite easily."

Author Grania Litwin © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006

Feb 21, 2008

The Ledbed Method Helps Lymphadema Sufferers

Here is another article that deals with the excercise program called "The Ledbed Method" I had never heard of it before reading these articles, but it sounds very intriquing - and I'm very impressed that Ms. Flynn sells her jewelry to help lymphadema sufferers purchase compression garments - that's such a wonderful thing to do! This particular article ran in the Pennisula Gateway out of Washington State.

A group of women stand in a circle, blowing bubbles through small, colorful plastic bubble blowers, and giggle. The laughter is just as important in this class as the stretching, toning and dancing that follows.

At first glance, it seems like all fun and games — class instructor Anne Flynn hands out hats and feather boas and leads her students through a series of movements set to fun music. But the class is part of a groundbreaking exercise program called “The Lebed Method,” designed for cancer survivors and patients suffering from lymphedema and chronic illness.

An occupational therapist and lymphedema specialist, Flynn began teaching classes for multiple sclerosis sufferers last October and began implementing her training for cancer patients last month. Flynn said lymphedema is a condition where a person’s lymphatic system has been damaged, especially cancer patients who have been undergoing chemotherapy.

“The lymphatic system rids your system of waste,” Flynn said. “When it gets interrupted, junk stays in there. The excess protein causes the skin to become hard and leathery.”

The condition can also cause painful swelling in limbs or other parts of the body. Special garments designed for the condition are expensive, because they have to be custom-made to fit each individual.

“I originally started the class for MS patients who were telling me that their movement was better and their pain was down,” Flynn said. “There’s so many people with pain, and the people who really feel a decrease in pain is the population that exercises.”

Flynn teaches the Lebed classes at Allenmore Hospital in Tacoma and at the MultiCare Gig Harbor Medical Park on Point Fosdick Drive.

The Lebed program was designed by Sherry Lebed Davis and is recognized by the National Lymphedema Foundation. Lebed was a former dancer and breast cancer survivor from Seattle.

“She couldn’t move her arms and was weak from surgery,” Flynn said. “She found that slow stretches and exercises helped her improve tremendously, so she began setting up classes for other people. She took the program out of the mothballs.”

The Lebed Method has since earned national acclaim and has been featured on TV shows such as “Lifetime” and “The Today Show.”

“The Lebed method is widely known in cancer circles and in other countries,” Flynn said.

“It’s great for patients with lymphedema,” she added. “We focus on lymph-cleaning exercises. It’s a series of slow, steady stretches in a certain order. It’s like traffic on a freeway — you have to clear out one area before you can go down the road. This increases the pumping action of the lymph vessels and helps the flow of (the body’s) waste material.”

Flynn’s students will readily vouch for the wonders of the Lebed method: Laura Justice was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and has participated in the class since it started.

“This is something I look forward to every week,” she said. “Anne really started me moving and kept me moving. Her personality is so great. She makes this class so fun, and she’s fun to be with.”

Justice said the no-stress atmosphere of the class helped her relax and enjoy the exercises.

“She lets me sit in the chair if I’m fatigued,” she said. “She lets me work at my level and come in and do what I can do.”

Flynn said that when she took the Lebed training, she saw it addressed many physical problems.

“For cancer patients, their bodies have been their enemy,” she said. “I help them get back in touch with it in a good way. We have 10-minute water breaks that have turned into a support group. The students interact, but instead of being sad, their endorphins are flowing and they’re upbeat and filled with joy and hope.”

Flynn has a history of nurturing and caring, having worked in nursing homes for 11 years. She began specializing in lymphedema treatment four years ago and decided to augment her therapy with Lebed classes and was pleasantly surprised by the results.

“It’s very rewarding to see people improve so quickly,” she said. “I see results in every patient as long as they stick with it. And you don’t have to be an aerobics instructor to teach this class.”

Flynn’s interest in helping others has gone beyond her classes and into a personal hobby to help lymphedema patients purchase special compression garments. A sock can cost as much as $100 to $150 — a glove as much as $500.

Flynn fashions her own custom jewelry and sells it at the Healthy Reflections Boutique in Gig Harbor. The proceeds from the sales are donated to help patients who can’t afford to purchase the garments.

“A lot of people are without insurance, and elderly people are on a fixed income,” Flynn said.

Her jewelry is made from fine silver, sterling silver, freshwater pearls and handmade glass. Flynn fashions the glass into decorative beads and cooks it in a small kiln at her home.

“You shape the glass with torches and rods,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. I use whatever colors I feel like using that day and the designs are kind of whimsical. When I work, I’m like a kid in a candy store.”

Reach reporter Susan Schell at 253-853-9240 or by e-mail at
Photo caption: Occupational therapist and lymphedema specialist Anne Flynn displays some of her handcrafted jewelry. Proceeds from the sales help lymphedema patients purchase costly compression garments.

Feb 19, 2008

This article appeared in the Orange Country Register Health Column. It's an interesting idea for exercises designed for women recovering from breast cancer and those who may also be suffering from lymphadema that sometimes accompanies breast surgery.

What if I told you blowing bubbles – those kiddie ones that come with a wand in a plastic bottle – should be part of your morning fitness routine?

Or that the same exercises designed to help women recovering from breast cancer will also benefit people with Parkinson's, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, weight control, senior fitness, even pregnant women?

Sherry Lebed Davis created this innovative program for breast cancer survivors and now finds she is a national sensation for general fitness. Her program is taught at hospitals, wellness centers and fitness clubs.

She brings her program to Orange County as part of a three-day seminar for professional trainers Friday-Sunday at the Cordelia Knott Wellness Center in Orange. She'll also appear in two different short segments from 6 to 8 a.m. on KDOC-TV's Daybreak OC on Friday.

Q: Your program has been featured in just about every major publication, from PEOPLE to The New York Times, and on television talk shows and various health conferences. What's going on here?

A: These exercises were developed with my two brothers (Dr. Joel P. Lebed and Dr. Marc R. Lebed for my mom 28 years ago because she had breast cancer and she was depressed. But as the program progressed, it started to be used for people with other illnesses.

There are so many medical studies going on about it – from multiple sclerosis to hospice care, even pool exercises. Who would have thought a program started for mom is now in 14 countries outside the U.S.? I'm pretty proud and amazed and so are my brothers.

Q: You have trainers who teach the program and also a book, "Thriving After Breast Cancer" and a DVD, "The Lebed Method, Focus on Healing." The DVD actually best illustrates your program, I understand, because it focuses on healing dance and movement therapy?

A: Well, it's fun and easy and it also increases flexibility, works on balance, may help reduce lymphedema swelling, helps decrease frozen shoulder. It just has many benefits.

Q: I like the DVD because the people in it are obviously in recovery themselves. You developed lymphedema after you got breast cancer and are shown wearing a compression sleeve. Others are wearing leg compression stockings.

A: I got breast cancer in 1996 and flew more than 300 times before I developed lymphedema. No one told me to wear that preventive sleeve before I flew. But that experience led my brothers and me to design a special program to work with the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a major part of the immune system and the exercises, that open the DVD, should be done by everyone.

Q: The book is liberally illustrated with what appear to be simple exercise movements.

A: I was a professional dancer and choreographer. The exercises are very slow and smooth with some resistance. They're fun. In our classes we use props and a lot of fun things.

Q: I assume you encourage people to go to a class before they purchase the book or the DVD?

A: Yes, that's the best way to get involved, of course. But if there's no class available, then the book or DVD will get you going.

Q: Where can we get information on classes and other materials, such as the book?

A: Go to my Web site, There is information on teachers nationally. And if someone cannot afford the book or DVD, we do have a nonprofit to help them. It's all on the Web site.

Q: And if I don't want all the goop from blowing bubbles in my house?

A: Blow on a pinwheel instead.

Contact the writer: Jane Glenn Haas

Feb 12, 2008

Natural Healing of Lymphadema

For the past few weeks I have been trying a new direction in managing my lymphadema. I have been going to a holisitic practioner for detoxing. I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I respect your right to choose your own treatment, but for me, I want to see if I can find another solution. I'm somewhat nervous to reveal the particulars of the treatment because I'm not sure if it will work - but I'll never know unless I try - and I don't want to hear any criticism about it right now. I'm so fed up with other people telling me what I should be doing when they don't live in my body or my life. I appreciate their "concern" and most of it I know is well-meaning - but isn't the road to hell paved with good intentions and such? Yeah, I thought so.

Anyway, the plan right now is to use the alternative treatments for a time and see how it goes, then perhaps use them in conjuction with leg wrapping. Currently I am not wrapping my legs because I wanted to see if the treatments actually work and although it is happening slowly, I do think it is making some difference, and so does my husband and daughter - so that's some slightly more non-biased opinion. I am going to start keeping a measurment journal so that I will have more concrete evidence - rather than just saying, "It seems to be working." I'll let you know how it goes.

I did want to share this information that I found in the "Complete Encyclopedia of Natural Healing"

Lymphedema is the ongoing, abnormal swelling of an arm or leg (sometimes both legs), and very occasionally other parts of the body, such as the head or intestines. Besides swelling, symptoms can include skin thickening, the leaking of lymphatic fluid when the skin is broken, and bursting pain, where the skin feels like it is about to explode.

Most cases of lymphedema in the U.S. are the direct result of trauma associated with surgical and radiation treatments for breast cancer. Other causes include parasites, automobile accidents, and other physical injury.

The most frequent complication associated with lymphedema is cellulitis, or streptococcal infection of the skin and subcutanous tissue. Patients will run a high fever, the arm or leg will turn red. Other complications include leaking of the lymph fluid, known medically as lymphorrhea; some people leak fluid all the time. Rarely, patients develop malignant tumors in the swollen arm or leg, so called lymph angiosarcoma.

Lymphedema should be treated immediately, as it can be life-threatening. Early indications include tight jewelry and skin that does not lose it's indentation after being squeezed for several seconds.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage: This simple method employs light, slow, rhythmic movements to stimulate lymphatic flow. it can be used as a prevenitive measure following a mastectomy, before lymphedema occurs. When used after breast removal surgery, studies show that it can reduce scarring, increase arm mobility, and alleviate pain and uncomfortable sensitivity.

An abundance of fresh, organic, live foods, such as sprouts, salads, and fresh juices aid detoxification and promote good health. The best foods to eat are complex carbohydrates; animal protein and sodium should be avoided. Green juices such as wheatgrass, celery and parsley, contain chlorophyll which purifies the blood and lymph. Green juices are too strong to be taken alone, however, and should be diluted with other juices and pure water.

The following herbs are known for their anti-edema qualities: hyssop, rosemary, black licorice root, astragalus, and dandelion root. Alfalfa, corn silk, juniper berries, lobelia, and pau d'arco are also helpful. Garlic is valuable for it's anitmicrobial and antibiotic properties.
Certain nutrients help to cleanse the lymphatic system and move materials through. These include vitamins B1, C and E as well as L-taurine, potassium and raw kidney extract.

When properly applied to the affected region, magnets stimulate lymphatic flow. The negative pole is the one used.

Breathing deeply is the most cost-effective way to activate stagnant lymph fluid. One technique, recommended by California lymph specialst Dr. William Martin, is the following: Breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth, in cycles of three. With each exhalation, push the air out strongly. The third time, before exhaling, hold the breath as long as possible. While the breath is being held, imagine where the healing breath should go, and mentally direct it to that part of the body.

This excercise opens up lymphatic ducts and speeds lymphatic flow. It also releases pain, because pain can come from a lack of oxygen at the cellular level. A word of caution: Never hold in air to the point of stress, and stop to rest if this causes dizziness.

Other ways to improve respiration include light bouncing on a small trampoline, while breathing deeply, as well as bio-oxidative therapies, which empliy ozone or oxygen. Aerobic excercises prompt lymphatic drainage, and sweating removes toxins from tissues.

Minimizing Symptoms
Heat should be avoided, as it causes the body to produce more lymphatic fluid. This means no hot showers, hot tubs, or saunas. Wear long sleeves and hats to avoid sun exposure.

To minimize the chance of skin cuts, gloves should be worn when gardening. Electric razors, rather than manual ones provide less chance of cutting the skin.

Patients are urged to avoid strenuous excercise and lifting heavy objects.

Women who wear a breast prosthesis should find the lightest one possible, and bra straps should be padded. Whenever possible, bras should not be worn as they restrict lymphatic flow.

Skin and nail care should be meticulous to avoid infections, and patients should avoid going to manicurists who use their intruments on other patrons.

Patients must avoid injections to affected areas or to the arm nearest where the breast cancer was. They must avoid having a doctor take blook or blood pressure readings from that arm, nor should they receive chemotherapy in that arm.

Mosquito bites can lead to serious infections and must be avoided.

Maintaining a normal weight minimizes symptomatology.

If airplane travel is neccessary, the arm or leg should be wrapped and elevated before takeoff. Preparation for travel includes taking extra garlic and other natural antibacterials.

What to Avoid
The most detrimental foods contain salt, sugar, and caffeine. It is also important to stay away from processed foods and artificial chemicals.
From The Complete Encyclopedia of Natual Healing, p.252-254