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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi -

Can you share how your approach has worked out? I have a friend recently diagnosed with lymphedema and I'd really like her to explore natural healing.