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Peripheral Edema Treatment

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Common causes and treatment options for Peripheral Edema.

When you have excess fluid in the body, you might have peripheral edema. This kind of edema is generally located in the feet, ankles, and lower legs.

Peripheral edema is one of the most common forms of edema and is often linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, although that is not the only cause.

In most cases, peripheral edema is not a serious condition, and with proper treatment, edema and swelling can be resolved without any intensive medical intervention. However, if you have edema that lasts for over a week, consult with a medical doctor to determine if there is a more serious issue at hand.

If your edema is caused by an unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle, these treatments can work to alleviate the uncomfortable and unsightly swelling in your legs.

What is Peripheral Edema?

Peripheral edema is localized in the peripheral areas of the body, usually the arms or legs.

Often, this form of edema is temporary and caused by sitting or standing in one place for too long. It is common in pregnant women and other individuals who have poor circulation. You might notice peripheral edema after a long plane ride, standing for several hours at work, or after a long car trip.

However, simply sitting or standing for long periods is not the only cause of peripheral edema. Other conditions can cause this form of edema as well, including:

  • A number of women experience edema prior to their menstrual cycle.
  • Water retention during pregnancy occurs as the uterus puts pressure on the major blood vessel which returns blood to the heart from the legs. Some hormones can also encourage the body to hold onto excess fluids giving rise to the condition. A more serious condition called preeclampsia may also give rise to fluid retention during pregnancy.
  • Certain medical drugs are known to cause fluid retention.

Peripheral Edema caused by illness:

  • Diseases of the heart, liver, and kidneys are mainly caused by salt retention, which holds the excess fluid in the body
  • In certain liver and kidney diseases, low levels of albumin in the blood can contribute to fluid retention
  • Low protein levels in the blood, caused by malnutrition
  • Idiopathic Edema occurs primarily in women
  • Varicose veins or thrombophlebitis (a blood clot in an inflamed vein) of the deep veins causes edema that is most often localized to the legs
  • A local injury, such as seen in the ankle sprain above
  • Obstruction of lymphatic flow may happen as a result of a tumor or surgery, such as a mastectomy for breast cancer, causing non-pitting edema
  • Myxedema is a particular form of peripheral edema that is a result of long-standing thyroid disease
  • Tumors, which block structures of the lymphatic system, like the lymph nodes, etc.
  • Joints affected by certain types of arthritis tend to swell, due to fluid retention.

Serious Causes of Edema

While most cases of edema are mild, there are some serious medical conditions that can lead to edema as well.

Congestive heart failure is the most common cause of serious peripheral edema. It occurs when your heart doesn’t pump enough blood to keep moving through the system. 

Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in the legs become weak and are unable to return blood to your heart rapidly. 

Other serious diseases of the lungs, liver, kidney, and thyroid may also cause fluid retention that leads to peripheral edema. 

Some antidepressants and blood pressure medications may also cause edema. If you are taking any of these medications and you have edema, talk to your doctor about it. 

Peripheral Edema Treatment

If you have ruled out serious causes for your edema, your edema is likely caused by an electrolyte imbalance, age, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, or a temporary issue like pregnancy. If these common conditions are causing your edema, you can treat them at home with the following supplement, diet, and lifestyle changes. Make these simple lifestyle changes and your edema symptoms will fade, or be eliminated.

Please note: If you are pregnant, not all of these suggested treatments and supplements are safe. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about the best natural treatments for peripheral edema so that you and your baby stay safe and healthy throughout your pregnancy.


Edema may not always be caused by dietary factors, but your diet always does influence the severity of the condition and the outcome.

The main step in treating edema is to reduce your consumption of salt. Restrict salt intake to below 2100 mg of sodium per day. Eating salty foods can cause edema to worsen.

Make sure that you drink plenty of water every day. This will help in cleansing your system by flushing out toxins. It also gets rid of excess fluid in the body. Your daily water intake should be at least 8 to 10 glasses.

Avoid consuming processed foods such as packaged goods and junk food. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Also, refrain from drinking caffeinated and carbonated beverages. Instead, drink fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

A juice fast is sometimes recommended for individuals who suffer from severe or chronic edema. Going on a juice fast for a week or two is known to provide relief from fluid retention. However, it is important to consult your doctor first.

Tonic water can help alleviate swelling in the legs. Tonic water contains quinine, which eases swelling and reduces inflammation.

Cucumber and other high-water-content foods, like watermelon, are amazing for increasing your water intake and also providing the nutrients your body needs to maintain a healthy electrolyte and mineral balance. Eat as many water-rich foods as you can until edema fades.

Potatoes and cabbages also help reduce edema. You can eat potatoes and cabbage, but cabbage applied directly to the skin also helps relieve edema. Potatoes can also be applied externally to the swollen area.

Eating flaxseeds are also beneficial in reducing edema. Flaxseeds contain properties that help reduce inflammation and swelling in the body, and they are also full of beneficial nutrients that help throughout the body, not just in controlling edema.

Garlic is another beneficial addition to your diet when you are trying to reduce edema. Garlic helps ease the pain that edema can bring and it also helps the body absorb excess fluids, which is essential when trying to fight edema.

Pineapple is a useful fruit that contains high levels of a chemical that helps the body eliminate excess fluid from the kidneys. This will help reduce edema and also provide vital nutrients that your body can use elsewhere.

If you have access to fresh parsley, it is extremely beneficial in reducing excess edema. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that when adults consume parsley, the herb has a diuretic effect. However, women who are pregnant should not consume high levels of parsley unless directed by a doctor. Large quantities of parsley may harm a developing fetus.


Many edema sufferers have reported successful relief from using dandelion root. Eating foods rich in potassium also helps balance salt intake and reduce swelling. 

Other popular herbs that are helpful for peripheral edema sufferers include ginkgo biloba, horse chestnut, and buchu

Gingko biloba reduces the pain associated with edema; horse chestnut improves the vein's ability to pump the blood, and buchu reduces water retention. 

You may also consider taking Capisette, a natural remedy for fluid retention. It is an effective alternative to conventional diuretics. This supplement contains natural herbs such as grape seed extracts, horse chestnut, and potassium.

Read more about herbal peripheral edema treatments below.

Fennel seeds: Fennel seeds contain ingredients and vitamins that help reduce swelling in the body without stripping the body of vital nutrients. You can take fennel in supplement form or brew a tea using fennel seeds for a tasty nighttime treat.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a healthy all-around supplement. Apple cider vinegar is anti-inflammatory and also provides valuable nutrients while eliminating excess fluid and toxins from the body. You can also apply a damp cloth soaked in apple cider vinegar directly to swollen areas for temporary swelling relief.

Coriander Seeds: Coriander has properties that can reduce excess swelling in the body, much like potassium can. Season foods with coriander and take coriander supplements until edema has faded.

Dandelion: Dandelion is the star of natural edema remedies as it can reduce excess fluid without eliminating nutrients from the body. Dandelion is packed with nutrients that fight edema, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamins. You can take dry dandelion supplements or brew a daily cup of dandelion tea to drink until edema symptoms are gone.

Comfrey and Coltsfoot: Both coltsfoot and comfrey reduce inflammation and water retention. You can also apply these two herbs directly to the skin. Supplementing with these herbs will help reduce edema faster.

Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba has been used for hundreds of years to reduce swelling, edema, and inflammation. The easiest way to take ginkgo biloba is to consume it in supplement form in a daily supplement pill. Look for a supplement pill that contains multiple herbs beneficial for edema for the easiest way to fight edema from the inside out.

Horse Chestnut: Horse chestnut doesn’t just get rid of extra fluid from the body. It also fights edema in a unique way by strengthening your veins and tissues and preventing fluid from seeping into your legs and arms. The herb is an invaluable addition to any edema-fighting routine and will help prevent edema from returning in the future.

Juniper Berries: Juniper berries improve the function of the

Barley Water: Women who are pregnant can take barley water instead of consuming dandelion or other supplements that might be risky during pregnancy. Barley water is easy to make by steeping barley in hot water until it cools and drinking a cup or two per day until edema is gone. Double-check with your doctor before taking this remedy while pregnant, just in case.

Magnesium: Magnesium is the star of the edema-fighting toolkit. Magnesium helps restore the proper nutrient balance in the body which helps to prevent edema from returning. Many individuals with chronic edema are also low in magnesium. For many individuals, taking a magnesium supplement is the number one most effective remedy for mild edema. The general recommendation for magnesium is to take about 400mg per day unless you are pregnant. Your doctor might want you to take less magnesium if you are pregnant.

Stinging Nettle: For hundreds of years, stinging nettle has been used to reduce water retention. Stinging nettle also has numerous other health benefits that make it a wonderful supplement to try.

Bitter Gourd: Bitter gourd is not the tastiest supplement, but it is highly effective at reducing edema. Add bitter gourd supplements to your daily routine and keep edema away.


Exercise is necessary to keep your blood circulating properly. If you don’t exercise, you’re more likely to suffer from edema. Feet and ankles can get swollen due to prolonged sitting. The best way to get excess fluid out is by being physically active. It will stimulate the fluid to work its way back towards your heart and will ease the swelling.

Yoga is one of the most effective exercises for edema as it boosts circulation throughout the body and gets the legs moving.


These lifestyle changes can help ensure your edema doesn’t return once you get it under control. Add these simple lifestyle changes to see big results in your health.

Elevation: Simply keeping your legs moving and elevating them as much as possible will help keep edema under control. Use a footrest or pillow to keep your legs propped up. Walk around for about five minutes every 30 minutes to an hour to keep things moving.

Compression Clothing: If you have to stand up, compression stockings can help reduce swelling and keep your body circulating.

Adaptive Footwear: Some companies manufacture footwear specifically for individuals with edema. Wearing this footwear can be beneficial during episodes of edema.

Home Remedies

Try these home remedies to stop edema in its tracks.

Epsom Salt: Epsom salt baths help reduce swelling and ease the pain and stiffness that edema brings.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is high in potassium and helps relieve edema. You can also apply apple cider vinegar in a poultice directly to swollen areas of the skin to help reduce edema.

Massage: Simple massage around the swollen area is a wonderful way to stimulate circulation and help reduce edema. Massage with gentle strokes in a circular motion encouraging the fluid to move up toward your torso. Repeat this several times a day until swelling subsides.

You Can Fight Peripheral Edema

Peripheral edema is the most common form of edema. It affects thousands of Americans every year, particularly the elderly, individuals who are overweight, those who live a sedentary lifestyle, and pregnant women. This form of edema is not usually serious and is treatable through natural means. The best peripheral edema treatment uses a combination of natural supplements, lifestyle changes, and diet changes to relieve existing edema and prevent it from returning. With just a few simple changes, you can cure peripheral edema.




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