Edema, also known as oedema, dropsy and hydropsy, is an accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues, which leads to swelling. Although edema can occur in any part of your body, it usually affects the hands, ankles, legs and feet. About 4.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from edema.
Common signs and symptoms of edema include swelling, puffiness, stretched or shiny skin, and dimpling of the skin after being pressed for a few seconds.
Mild cases of edema may result from sitting or staying in one position for many hours, a surgical procedure, high salt intake, malnutrition, insect bites, premenstrual syndrome and pregnancy.
Sometimes it can be a side effect of medications, including high blood pressure medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid drugs, estrogens and diabetes medications.
In some cases, edema may be a sign of a serious health problem, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, cirrhosis, cancer, arthritis, thyroid disease, deep vein thrombosis, venous insufficiency and an allergic reaction.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing edema. These include hypertension, kidney disease, excessive drinking, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and past surgeries involving removal of lymph nodes.
Edema itself is not harmful, but because it can be a sign of an underlying condition, you need to have it looked by a doctor. Whatever the cause, you can get some relief from the symptoms of edema with simple lifestyle changes and easy-to-follow home remedies.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for edema.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a well-known remedy to reduce edema symptoms. Being high in potassium, it helps replenish potassium levels in the body and reverse fluid retention. Moreover, its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce swelling and pain.
- Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Drink it twice daily.
- Another option is to soak a towel in a mixture of equal amounts of warm water and apple cider vinegar. Wrap the towel on the affected area for several minutes. Do this a few times daily.
2. Epsom Salt Bath
An Epsom salt bath can help you get rid of swelling, inflammation and pain due to edema. It draws out excess fluids and toxins from your body.
- Mix 2 cups of Epsom salt in warm bathwater.
- Soak in it for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat up to 3 times a week.
3. Tea Tree Oil
You can use tea tree oil to treat edema or inflammation caused by insect bites or stings. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties can reduce swelling and pain from edema.
According to a 2002 study published in the official journal of European Histamine Research Society, the components terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol in tea tree oil can regulate edema.
- To treat edema due to insect bites or stings, put a few drops of tea tree oil on a cotton swab and apply it on the affected area. Wait for a few minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. Repeat as needed.
- For mild edema cases, add a few drops of tea tree oil to any carrier oil and use it to massage the affected area using outward strokes. Follow this remedy 2 times daily for a few days until the swelling and pain are gone.
Regular massage is another effective way to reduce swelling and pain caused by edema. Massaging with gentle strokes creates pressure on the affected skin and muscle areas. This activates the lymphatic system and the fluid drains away naturally.
- Warm some mustard, olive or coconut oil.
- Massage the affected area gently with the warm oil.
- Do this several times a day.
Note: If your edema is due to pregnancy, have your massage done by a therapist specializing in prenatal massage.
Parsley is also helpful in reducing swelling and pain by helping your body remove excess fluids. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that parsley has diuretic effects. It even blocks the re-absorption of sodium and potassium.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dried parsley to 2 cups of water. Boil it for 10 minutes, then strain it. Drink it once daily, in the morning before eating breakfast.
- Another option is to crush parsley leaves to make a paste, and apply it on the affected areas. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. Repeat 2 times a day.
- Also, eat more parsley by adding it to salads, soups, sandwiches and other dishes.
The herb dandelion acts as natural diuretic and thus encourages the draining of fluid. It also has potassium, which helps balance out sodium in the body. This in turn helps reduce swelling and inflammation due to edema.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried dandelion leaves in a cup of hot water.
- Cover, steep for 5 to 7 minutes and strain it.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of dandelion tea every day.
Note: Avoid dandelion if you have gallbladder problems.