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Topic: Natural remedies - anyone taken any that helped the swelling?

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: Jul 5, 2017 03:47AM

Lucca06 wrote:

I was just wondering if anyone had taken any natural supplements that they felt had helped their swelling even if it was just marginal? I have lymphedema in my right arm which has definitely got worse in the last 12 months so much so that I now have to wear my sleeve and glove daily (yuck!). They don't seem to make much difference though in fact my had looks more swollen by the end of the day and my arm isn't any less swollen?

When I google thing to help lymphedema some natural remedies come up that are meant to aid blood flow and swelling so I thought I would see if anyone had tried any?

Any other tips to help reduce/manage the swelling so it doesn't keep worsening would be much appreciated too!


Dx 3/23/2011, ILC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, 9/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 4/2/2011 Surgery 8/22/2011 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, SGAP flap/hip flap
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Jul 5, 2017 07:34AM MinusTwo wrote:

Lucca - A number of us go back to our certified LE therapists for a tune up a couple of times a year if we can't get the swelling down. Have you been trained to do MLD? That's a must. Below is a site that a number of BCO women helped to create. You may find something useful.


2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Jul 5, 2017 09:41AM Binney4 wrote:

Lucca, hello!

As MinusTwo points out, our first line of defense is great care from a well-trained lymphedema therapist, and self care that includes skin protection, daily self Manual Lymph Drainage, and well-fitted garments as needed. It does sound like your glove, at least, could use replacement with a garment that offers the right compression for you. A qualified therapist or fitter should be able to help you with that.

Don't know which side of the equator you're on, but if you're doing summer now that can certainly affect your lymphedema control. Limiting outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day may be a help. Besides the weather, do consider what kinds of activities affect your arm and hand. Repetitive activities (vacuuming, knitting, weeding, tennis, etc.) need to be broken up in about 10-minute intervals--stop what you're doing and either rest your arm or do something else with it for a while.

As for natural helps, some lymphers find a few Brazil nuts a day helpful (for the selenium), but you need to limit that to three or four a day as it's possible to overdose on selenium. Raw pineapple contains bromelain, which might also be helpful for some. Best "natural" help I've found is a simple, gentle exercise routine called the Lebed Method. I use the 15-minute opening section daily to clear nodes and encourage lymph flow (no, let's say I TRY to do it daily--sometimes more faithful than other times!). When I keep up with it my swelling is much more easily controlled:


As MinusTwo notes, the StepUp-SpeakOut site offers many more suggestions for lymphedema management. Hoping you're soon in a happier place with this! Please stay in touch here and let us know what you discover.

Gentle hugs,

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Jul 5, 2017 09:52AM Kicks wrote:

My first thought is you may have the wrong compression level in your garments. Some of us are more sensitive to compression levels than others - me for one. I have to have low level (18 - 21) - anything heavier and they cause increased swelling. Within an hour of putting on mid level compression my hand will look like an overstuffed sausage. (My hand usually has no issues at all.) But it's also a possibility that you might need a higher level compression. Your LET should be able to give you input. Possible fit issues could be another issue.

Dx 8/7/2009, IBC, Stage IIIC, 19/19 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 8/25/2009 AC Surgery 10/21/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right Chemotherapy 11/11/2009 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/4/2010 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jul 5, 2017 12:48PM SpecialK wrote:

I have bi-lateral lymphedema, and actually found that when I switched to an anti-inflammatory diet (no soy, gluten, corn, sugar, dairy, eggs, peanuts) my arms feel better. I am currently back at LE PT for a flare, have sustained two injuries and a biopsy to my more involved arm in the last 60 days, but that arm is significantly smaller (1.5cm) since I went back on this eating plan. It is a huge change but it is what works for me for weight loss/control, and helps with both lymphedema and joint pain from Femara. There is currently some thought that lymphedema may, for some, be a disease of inflammation. There is a clinical trial being conducted with Eiger BioPharm trying out an anti-inflammatory on those with lower extremity lymphedema.


BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3
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Jul 5, 2017 03:00PM tsoebbin wrote:

Special K... Will you share what your typical meals are like? I'm at.a loss on what to prepare.

I am 52 and Love Travel, My Family and Friends, and Life in General! Dx 4/4/2016, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+ Dx 5/11/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/11/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 6/28/2016 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right
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Jul 5, 2017 07:42PM - edited Jul 5, 2017 07:44PM by SpecialK

tsoebbin - essentially this is an elimination diet, after which you can choose to trial the eliminated foods to see if they cause issues for you. I really only added back in eggs, but sparingly. I had already cut out most soy and dairy after being diagnosed, so that wasn't hard. The soy and corn are on the list because of the heavy use of pesticides in growing them in the US. Dairy, eggs, and peanuts because so many people have allergies or sensitivities to those, gluten because even if you aren't celiac it can cause some joint pain if you are sensitive, and sugar because other than taste, there is pretty much nothing redeeming about it.

For cooking I try to follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen when buying produce, and try to get grass-fed, organic, antibiotic free, or whatever clean adjective fits for protein. Here is a link to how this diet works - there are books written by the nutritionist J.J. Virgin, but this link has pretty much what you need. If you like recipes, I would just buy the cookbook, or download it, it explains the premise of the diet well enough you certainly don't need the original book.


I have a shake in the morning with vegan protein powder, frozen strawberries, and almond or coconut milk. If I have chia seeds I add those. I also drink coffee with flavored almond milk, unsweetened vanilla. Lunch is usually a salad with protein, and dinner is a lean protein, either quinoa/brown rice/sweet potatoes, and veggies. I don't eat too much fruit - try to limit it to high fiber berries, pineapple, and occasional melon, but avoid high glycemic index fruits like grapes and bananas. I eat a lot of leafy greens like kale, spinach, and romaine, I like zucchini and yellow squash, peppers, avocadoes, olive oil, nuts, etc. I do not drink alcohol, but didn't prior to BC either so that wasn't a hard choice. I had reflux surgery in 1995 and my stomach does not tolerate alcohol well. I make Bolognese and have it over gluten free pasta, I also make chili using organic beans and grass fed ground beef, or turkey. Tonight I cooked some gluten free ramen noodles, and sautéed some red onion, carrot and Napa cabbage, topped the ramen with the veggies and some shredded chicken breast and topped it with organic gluten free Tamari and hot sauce. This plan is somewhat similar to Paleo, so if this sounds too daunting you could go that way, or South Beach initially.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3
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Jul 6, 2017 08:08AM tsoebbin wrote:

Special K... Thank you! I struggle with what to eat besides salad and protein. Your examples are helpful.

South Beach could be a good start for me.

Take care!


I am 52 and Love Travel, My Family and Friends, and Life in General! Dx 4/4/2016, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+ Dx 5/11/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/11/2016 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 6/28/2016 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right
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Jul 10, 2017 09:37PM Sanhar555 wrote:

Special K, thank you so much. I too struggle with my food choices everyday. I am leaning/transition toward vegan but sugar is my worst nightmare. Three times bc survival fighting for thirteen years and praying for all.

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Jul 24, 2017 07:19PM floaton wrote:

It's not a supplement, but mine has been much better lately with sticking to a twice a week pool exercise program developed by my lept. The water is great compression while exercising.

One day you're waiting for the sky to fall; the next you're dazzled by the beauty of it all - Bruce Cockburn Dx 9/2013, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/14/2013 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Chemotherapy 10/14/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 2/14/2014 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jul 24, 2017 08:32PM marijen wrote:

by Healthy Cures

Although the lymphatic system is often overlooked, it is essential part of the body. It is made of tissues and organs that work in synergy to flush out toxic matter, waste, and other unwanted materials from the system.

Given that the lymph fluid contains white blood cells which have critical role in fighting off infections, keeping a healthy lymphatic system is of utmost importance.

Common Symptoms Of A Congested Lymphatic System

  1. Breast swelling or soreness with each cycle
  2. Dry skin
  3. Mild rash or acne
  4. Hypersensitivity
  5. Rings get tight on fingers
  6. Soreness and/or stiffness in the morning
  7. Feeling tired
  8. Bloating / Holding on to water
  9. Itchy skin
  10. Weight gain and extra belly fat
  11. Swollen glands
  12. Low immunity
  13. Brain fog
  14. Mild headaches
  15. Elevated histamine and irritation due to common environmental allergens
  16. Occasional constipation, diarrhea, and/or mucus in the stool

Three Major Causes Of Lymphatic Congestion

Even though lymphatic congestion is triggered by a wide range of factors, everything can be narrowed down to three major causes.

  • Stress
  • Iodine deficiency
  • Digestive imbalances
  • Constricting clothes

3-Day Lymphatic Detox To Improve Lymph Health

If you experience at least three of the symptoms outlined above, you`ll need to do a lymphatic detox to improve your lymph health. The good news is that you need only three days to drain your lymphatic fluids!

Read through the following guidelines and prepare yourself, particularly for the rebounding exercise which is a great way to drain your stagnant fluids. Drink herbal tea during the detox period, take a detox bath, dry skin brush, drink plenty of water, and do some brisk walking. You`ll feel the difference in a matter of days!

1. Drink Plenty of Fluid

Since the lymph is made of nearly 95 percent water, water is critical for its health. Therefore, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking half your weight in ounces of water daily in order to avoid improper lymph flow.

In addition to water, you can have freshly-squeezed juices, broths, and herbal teas, all of which help the lymphatic system move while mineralizing the body and the lymph. It is worth mentioning that green vegetable juices are one of those good-for-you beverages which do deep cleanse of all detox organs, including the lymphatic system.

2. Herbs

There are many lymph-supporting herbs which have been shown to improve lymphatic health, whether in facilitating the elimination of toxic matter or improving lymphatic drainage. Some of those herbs include:

– Red root ( It helps reduce cysts, reduce swollen nodes, send nutrition to the tissues, and alleviate the stagnation of fluids)

– Red clover ( It improves circulation, which in turn reduces inflammation and promotes detoxification of the body)

– Manjistha ( This Ayurvedi herb is used to alleviate the stagnation of fluids by promoting lymph flow)

– Echinacea ( It boosts immunity by detoxifying the lymph fluid and it invades tumor cells and increases the production of T-lymphocyte, cells needed for clearing up extra-cellular fluids)

– Cleavers ( It helps dissolve cysts, reduces the swelling of lymph nodes, and helps dissolve kidney stones)

To sum up, drinking these herbal teas helps detoxify the lymph and boost its function.

3. Exercise

Rebounding is the best type of exercise for detoxifying the lymphatic system. It involves jumping on a trampoline and it works by opening up the lymphatic valves and improving circulation. It is recommended to do this for 15-20 minutes on a daily basis.

4. Near Infrared Sauna

This therapy penetrates into the skin, promoting sweating and elimination of toxic matter. The release of toxins and the heat work in synergy to improve the lymphatic flow.

5. Brisk Walking

Brisk walking is simple, yet effective way to get the body moving and stimulate lymph flow. Aim at getting about 45-60 minutes a day, while breathing as deeply as possible.

6. Legs Up The Wall

Lying with your legs up the wall enhances the lymphatic flow by stimulating the activation of the lymphatic valves for eliminating toxins. Plus, it helps sleep better at night, too.

7. Lymphatic Drainage Massage

8. Standing Desk

Sitting down is bad for the lymphatic flow, while standing desk promotes lymphatic drainage and ensures you get more natural movements throughout the day.

9. Hydrotherapy Shower

Hydrotherapy shower involves use of hot and cold water alternatively. At the end of the shower, switch the water from hot to cold very quickly. Repeat a few times!

10. Deep Breathing

Being quite simple, deep breathing is something anyone can do. But, it`s an effective way of stimulating lymph flow, since the lungs are the ones that pump your lymphatic fluid.

– Stretch the arms to both sides and then move the arms up while breathing through the nose. Then, use your hands to make circles and breathe deeply from the lung, not the stomach. Hold the breath for a few seconds.

– Move the arms down while exhaling through the mouth and making circles with the hands

– You are likely to feel a bit dizzy after doing this for a few times, which indicates that your body is eliminating toxic matter. Stop at this point!

While doing this, think: 'wash the cells, feed the cells, purify the cells' to help pump out the toxins.'

11. Dry Skin Brushing

Dry skin brushing provides a wide range of health benefits, from improving lymphatic flow and optimizing detoxification to boosting organ functions and boosting energy levels.

Here's How To Dry Brush

  • Get a natural bristle brush with a long handle
  • Stand in the shower room/ bathtub
  • Start dry brushing, starting from the feet and moving toward the heart by using long motions. Ultimately, move on to the hands, again brushing towards the heart.
  • Brush several times in each area
  • Pay attention to the more sensitive areas, like the breasts
  • Take a shower, when done. Alternate between the hottest and the coldest temperature to stimulate blood circulation
  • Pat dry the body and then apply coconut oil onto the skin for hydration
  • For optimal results, dry brush every day before taking a shower
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Aug 2, 2017 04:55AM PerAngusta wrote:

WOW! All of this, such great information. I haven't been on this site in a while but glad I popped by!! I was diagnosed in 2014 and completed treatment in April of 2016. For my own reasons, I take NO DRUGS of any kind (not even tylenol) anymore. I never had a weight management problem until after breast cancer. Throughout my life, I was 5'9" and 130 pounds. I didn't work at it. I share this NOT to sound flippant, but rather, to shine a spotlight on my ignorance. lol I was naturally lean - and those were fortunate times. Immediately after breast cancer, 35 pounds slowly creeped up on me. I experienced no change in diet (ate all of the same things) and only a slight change in physical exercise and yet....I was swelling up like a blowfish! From then until now....I've tried many things....I've seen many specialists and for me....diet is everything! Diet and my weight!!! If I eat the wrong things, drink the wrong things....I WILL SUFFER AND SWELL. And when I suffer and swell, I begin to feel pain in my joints, my mobility is limited...sleep becomes difficult and in general...I become sad/anxious/frustrated.

I will skip all that I have tried over the past 3 years and share what has worked for me. Maybe it will help some of you! Good luck my bc friends!!! You are a VERY, VERY special group and my heart is with you!!

Full Disclosure....I made the whole thing up according to my own likes and dislikes....I eliminated everything I could live without (and should live without) and I sparingly kept some of the treats!

Drinks - Water, Green Teas, Coffee with skim milk (my guilty pleasure each morning AND after dinner!)....AND THAT IS IT!!! I drink nothing else - ever.

Absolutely no sugar or alcohol but honestly....I never really cared for either of those items anyway!! So that was super easy. The challenge for me......

NO ADDITIONAL SALT.....and I am a label checker now!! NO SODIUM.

Snacks and treats (if I MUST!!) - SLIMFAST BARBEQUE CHIPS or SWEET CRISPS....I buy them at Walmart....I am sure that they are 100% CRAP but when I am craving SALTY SNACKS these little sweeties do the trick....each bag has 100 calories (same for the sweet crisps)....I don't have them often but perhaps a couple of times in a week! It helps because sometimes I feel deprived and these treats take the edge off!! lol

I am not a meat or seafood eater (never have been - since childhood - grew up on a farm and my parents had trouble convincing me to eat living things - psychological silliness! Sorry, no profound words of veganism!! lol I don't eat living things because.....I'm odd.) so I have no advice to this end. For me, proteins have ALWAYS come from other sources so I simply continue to add them as I need them.

Everyday....without fail....my dinner consists of a MASSIVE, HUGE (fill the entire plate with so much that you can barely finish it - totally FULL AND SATISFIED), FRESHLY PREPARED SALAD and here is what goes into it...... I AM 135 POUNDS AGAIN (after eating this diet for ONE YEAR) and rarely find myself suffering from LE anymore...it's still around but I no longer need a sleeve or MLD.....It helped me.....hope it helps you too (with your own spin of course!!! Tweak to your needs and subject to your doctors advice and most importantly.....) ENJOY!!

I follow no real recipe per se, but basically I use some greens and a whole lot of everything, dress it and call it a salad!!!

My Famous Chopped Salad (feeds my entire family of five - each night...however, I do usually cook some sort of meat item for them - roast, fish, etcetera)

Baby Spinach Leaves (one cup) or SUPER GREENS

One can of CHICK PEAS

Half chopped sweet onion

Four large, chopped pickled beets

1/2 cup blueberries, raspberries or seedless grapes

One chopped sweet pepper

One chopped cucumber with skins

Two celery stalks finely chopped

One can of sliced black olives

Crumbled FETA CHEESE (optional - to taste/desired amount - I DO USE IT EVERYDAY but you don't have to)

One chopped avocado

Sunflower seeds (I actually just buy a bag of SUPER SEEDS at Costco!!)

Dried cranberries

Shredded carrots

Shredded Zucchini

Cauliflower "snow" (crumbled, fine)

AND ANY OTHER FRESH VEGETABLE THAT MY HUBBY has grown in our garden - for us, usually foods in season!

Once I have thrown all my ingredients in a great BIG salad bowl (get yourself a fancy, pretty one - make the meal something special!!) I sprinkle oregano, basil and some garlic all over the UNMIXED pile of yummy-ness!!! Then, I use a bit of olive oil (or whatever you prefer) and splash that over the pile as well....then REAL LEMON JUICE (I'm not a fan of vinegar because it covers the taste of my fruits, nuts and veggies but if that's your preference....I'm sure it can be substituted and will still taste like heaven) all over the pile and THEN....get in there and mix that bowl of stuff up until it looks perfect to your tummy!

I eat this every single day....in fact, I look forward to my salads more than anything else in the day! I never get tired of them because let's face it....I put everything in there but the kitchen sink and it is soooooooo tasty....always satisfying. And best of all, I have lost 30 pounds in one year - eating and drinking this way!! I occasionally still get the odd flare up but all in all???? I feel much better than I have since my diagnosis.

AND I HAVE SHOULDER LENGTH HAIR AGAIN - that feels amazing!! My wigs are actually getting dusty!!! I'm starting to think that there might be life without constant suffering after bc.

Have a great day everyone!! :)

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Aug 2, 2017 06:01AM - edited Aug 2, 2017 06:50AM by GoKale4320

PerAngusta - thank you for posting this. This is great information! It's encouraging to know that the swelling CAN be controlled through diet. I think with enough practice, I can adopt a similar diet.

Do you eat any grains at all? I find them helpful in keeping me full longer.

What about protein - is it all from beans, nuts and seeds?

Do you ever eat yogurt or kefir?

What about exercise, cardio and resistance exercises? I think if I do too much, I get swelling, but it could also be the summer heat in the southern United States. What do you do, PerAngusta? Anyone else?

Dx: January 2017, IDC, Stage IIa, 1/23 nodes, Dx 1/2017, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 1/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 3, 2017 04:49AM PerAngusta wrote:

Hi GoKale! I was going to send a private message but then wondered that there might be one or two oddballs out there like me - who could benefit from me sharing some truths. First of all, I am now and always have been a horrible eater. Since childhood. I will eat ANY vegetable or fruit on the planet but no meat, no seafood, nothing (previously) moving!! lol My lifelong favourite items (before cancer) were salt, breads, some cheese and pasta. Items that would almost always cause stomach upset/vomitting/constipation/diarrhea have always been chocolate, dairy products (such as yogurt), alcohol, sugar/junk foods. Everyone teased that my body had a natural and intense aversion to things generally considered "not good for us". Hence,I remained lean and strong (very active/fit) - til cancer. I retained my quirky "not eating this or that" list!! But salt became my worst enemy....the swelling and fluid retention it caused made me (begrudgingly) give it up for good. Breads and cheese? Rice, cereal, pizza? I just cannot tolerate ANYTHING other than water, fresh fruits and veggies, beans, seeds, nuts....even coffee (as much as I love it) can upset my tummy. And before anyone asks - YES, my family doc has always been aware of my odd habits. I've been tested and tested - nothing wrong with me! Which can be frustrating.....but now I just listen to my own body - I avoid anything that could cause me any additional suffering (cause I have suffered enough, right?) and I feel great! As for exercise - I have tried EVERYTHING (YMCA member - work with a trainer) and what I find is that I do very well for one or two weeks....feel so happy...start talking about "being me again" and WHAMMO....I wake up and can barely walk...joint pain head to toe, swollen, depressed. My exercise therefore, is limited to keeping busy with my kids each day. They are now 12 and 14...it seems to be enough....for now.

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