Swelling can occur as the result of any number of causes ranging from edema to food allergies, an insect bite, inflammation from gout or a sports injury. Regardless of why you have swelling, a variety of foods, herbs and home remedies may help reduce the pain, inflammation and swollen tissue. Use caution if using unfamiliar herbs and contact your natural health practitioner first.
Dandelion greens act to reduce swelling that is the result of edema in soft tissue. The herb has diuretic properties and will increase kidney function and the rate of urination. Dandelion is a bitter herb and promotes better digestion. Harvest your own dandelion greens from your yard or in the wild as long as they are pesticide-free. If you don’t have a handy patch of fresh dandelions, purchase either the extract or fresh greens at health food stores. Fresh dandelion is best used in salads or boiled as a vegetable. It is also good in herbal tea. Add the extract to juice, a smoothing or hot water to make an herbal tea. Mix with cool water for a topical application that you can apply to painful, swollen joints. Dandelion may cause allergic reactions such as a rash to the skin or burning in the mouth. If you experience these or other symptoms, stop using it.
Arnica is both an herb and a homeopathic remedy with a wide range of medicinal properties. It is often used to reduce swelling due to injuries to the tissues. If you over-exercise and have sore muscles, fall and bruise any part of your body, or experience any other kind of physical affront to your body, like a black eye or an auto accident, Arnica will relieve the shock and help reduce pain and swelling.
Homeopathic Arnica is indicated for internal bleeding, bruising and shock as well, injuries to the bodily tissues. Herbal Arnica extract is used only for topical applications such as a sprained ankle or swelling with bruising from muscle strain. It should never be applied to an open wound.
Green tea may be helpful for reducing swelling internally due to digestive disorders or gallbladder colic. Green tea helps reduce bloating and swelling due to its high content of polyphenols, antioxidants that lessen inflammation and irritation in the gut. Green tea is available both caffeinated and decaffeainated. Caffeine can produce nervousness, irritability and sleeplessness; so if you are bothered by any of these symptoms, purchase decaffeinated tea.
Parsley acts as a gentle diuretic to reduce fluid retention in the body’s tissues. It may relieve edema in swollen ankles and help clear the body of excess fluids during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Use parsley raw in salads or make herbal tea from either the raw or the dried leaves.
Another herb used by herbalists in both Eastern and Western herbal medicine is burdock root. Burdock root is primarily known as a blood-cleanser in Eastern medicine. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
Burdock root may be especially useful to help remove swelling from edematous tissues in the legs and feet. It can be mashed and applied topically as a poultice, eaten raw in salads, cooked like carrots and eaten as a hot vegetable, or the dried root makes an herbal tea. If the leaves of the burdock plant are used topically, sometimes their small hairs may cause skin irritation and a rash upon contact. Stop using the burdock if this occurs and consult a health practitioner if symptoms persist.
Cranberries and cranberry juice have shown some efficacy in preventing the formation of certain kinds of kidney stones in those with kidney disease, reports British Journal of Urology. Cranberry juice is also known to be an effective agent in fighting lower urinary track infections due to its high vitamin C content, antibacterial properties and the presence of anthocyanin, a potent antioxidant. Cranberry juice may also be helpful in reducing edema in the feet and ankles because it stimulates increased urination and flushing of the kidneys.
The British Journal recommends combining 1 cup of pure cranberry juice with 3 cups water and drinking the total contents daily in several doses. Use only freshly juiced cranberry juice or unsweetened cranberry extract. Do not use any commercially prepared cranberry juices unless they are 100 percent cranberry.
Materia Medica and Repertory; William Boericke; 1998
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