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Health Condition

Edema

  • Selenium

    People with lymphedema of the arm or head-and-neck region who were treated with selenium saw an improvement in quality of life and edema symptoms in one study.

    Dose:

    230 mcg daily
    Selenium
    ×
     

    In a preliminary study, individuals with lymphedema of the arm or head-and-neck region were treated with approximately 230 mcg of selenium per day, in the form of sodium selenite, for four to six weeks. A quality-of-life assessment showed an improvement of 59%, and the circumference of the edematous arm was reduced in 10 of 12 cases.1

  • Bilberry

    Because coumarin, hydroxyethylrutosides, and diosmin are not widely available in, flavonoids such as anthocyanosides (from bilberry), have been substituted by doctors. The effects of these flavonoids against edema has not been well studied.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Bilberry
    ×
    Because coumarin, hydroxyethylrutosides, and diosmin are not widely available in the United States, other flavonoids, such as quercetin, rutin, or anthocyanosides (from bilberry), have been substituted by doctors in an attempt to obtain similar benefits. The effect of these other flavonoids against edema has not been well studied. Also, optimal amounts are not known. However, in one study, quercetin in amounts of 30-50 mg per day corrected abnormal capillary permeability (leakiness),2 an effect that might improve edema. A similar effect has been reported with rutin at 20 mg three times per day.3 Doctors often recommend 80 to 160 mg of a standardized extract of bilberry, three times per day.
  • Cleavers

    Cleavers is one of numerous plants considered in ancient times to act as a diuretic. It was therefore used to relieve edema and to promote urine formation during bladder infections.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Cleavers
    ×
     

    Cleavers is one of numerous plants considered in ancient times to act as a diuretic.4 It was therefore used to relieve edema and to promote urine formation during bladder infections.

  • Corn Silk

    Corn silk has long been considered to have diuretic properties, which are beneficial for treating edema.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Corn Silk
    ×
     

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys were traditionally used to reduce edema. Herbal diuretics do not work the same way that drugs do, thus it is unclear whether such herbs would be effective for this purpose. Goldenrod (Solidago cnadensis) is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.5 Animal studies show, at very high amounts (2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight), that dandelion leaves possess diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretic furosemide (Lasix®).6 Human clinical trials have not been completed to confirm these results. Corn silk (Zea mays) has also long been used as a diuretic, though a human study did not find that it increased urine output.7 Thus, diuretic herbs are not yet well supported for use in reducing edema.

  • Dandelion

    Dandelion leaves have diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretics used to treat edema.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Dandelion
    ×
     

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys were traditionally used to reduce edema. Herbal diuretics do not work the same way that drugs do, thus it is unclear whether such herbs would be effective for this purpose. Goldenrod (Solidago cnadensis) is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.8 Animal studies show, at very high amounts (2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight), that dandelion leaves possess diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretic furosemide (Lasix®).9 Human clinical trials have not been completed to confirm these results. Corn silk (Zea mays) has also long been used as a diuretic, though a human study did not find that it increased urine output.10 Thus, diuretic herbs are not yet well supported for use in reducing edema.

  • Goldenrod

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys (diuretics) theoretically should help reduce edema. Goldenrod is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Goldenrod
    ×
     

    Herbs that stimulate the kidneys were traditionally used to reduce edema. Herbal diuretics do not work the same way that drugs do, thus it is unclear whether such herbs would be effective for this purpose. Goldenrod (Solidago cnadensis) is considered one of the strongest herbal diuretics.11 Animal studies show, at very high amounts (2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight), that dandelion leaves possess diuretic effects that may be comparable to the prescription diuretic furosemide (Lasix®).12 Human clinical trials have not been completed to confirm these results. Corn silk (Zea mays) has also long been used as a diuretic, though a human study did not find that it increased urine output.13 Thus, diuretic herbs are not yet well supported for use in reducing edema.

  • Horse Chestnut

    An ingredient in horse chestnut seed has been shown to effectively reduce post-surgical edema in preliminary trials.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Horse Chestnut
    ×
     

    Aescin, isolated from horse chestnut seed, has been shown to effectively reduce post-surgical edema in preliminary trials.14,15 A form of aescin that is injected into the bloodstream is often used but only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.

  • Horsetail

    Horsetail has a diuretic action that accounts for its traditional use in reducing mild edema.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Horsetail
    ×
     

    Horsetail has a diuretic (urine flow increasing) action that accounts for its traditional use in reducing mild edema. Although there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema, the German government has approved horsetail for this use. The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in this way can theoretically lessen edema;16 however, there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema.

  • Juniper

    The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in this way can theoretically lessen edema.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Juniper
    ×
     

    Horsetail has a diuretic (urine flow increasing) action that accounts for its traditional use in reducing mild edema. Although there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema, the German government has approved horsetail for this use. The volatile oils in juniper cause an increase in urine volume and in this way can theoretically lessen edema;17 however, there is no clinical research that yet supports its use for people with edema.

  • Quercetin

    In one study, the flavonoid quercetin corrected abnormal capillary permeability (leakiness), an effect that might improve edema.

    Dose:

    Refer to label instructions
    Quercetin
    ×
    Because coumarin, hydroxyethylrutosides, and diosmin are not widely available in the United States, other flavonoids, such as quercetin, rutin, or anthocyanosides (from bilberry), have been substituted by doctors in an attempt to obtain similar benefits. The effect of these other flavonoids against edema has not been well studied. Also, optimal amounts are not known. However, in one study, quercetin in amounts of 30-50 mg per day corrected abnormal capillary permeability (leakiness),18 an effect that might improve edema. A similar effect has been reported with rutin at 20 mg three times per day.19 Doctors often recommend 80-160 mg of a standardized extract of bilberry, three times per day.
What Are Star Ratings
×
Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

References

1. Micke O, Bruns F, Mucke R, et al. Selenium in the treatment of radiation-associated secondary lymphedema. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2003;56:40-9.

2. Griffith JQ. Clinical application of quercetin: preliminary report. J Am Pharm Assoc 1953;42:68-9.

3. Shanno RL. Rutin: a new drug for the treatment of increased capillary fragility. Am J Med Sci 1946;211:539-43.

4. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. London: Viking Arkana, 1991, 493-4.

5. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

6. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-7.

7. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225-31.

8. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

9. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-7.

10. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225-31.

11. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 74 [review].

12. Racz-Kotilla E, Racz G, Solomon A. The action of Taraxacum officinale extracts on the body weight and diuresis of laboratory animals. Planta Med 1974;26:212-7.

13. Doan DD, Nguyen NH, Doan HK, et al. Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;36:225-31.

14. Dini D, Bianchini M, Massa T, Fassio T. Treatment of upper limb lymphedema after mastectomy with escine and levo-thyroxine. Minerva Med 1981;72:2319-22 [in Italian].

15. Wilhelm K, Feldmeier C. Thermometric investigations about the efficacy of beta-escin to reduce postoperative edema. Med Klin 1977;72:128-34 [in German].

16. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76-7 [review].

17. Tyler V. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 76-7 [review].

18. Griffith JQ. Clinical application of quercetin: preliminary report. J Am Pharm Assoc 1953;42:68-9.

19. Shanno RL. Rutin: a new drug for the treatment of increased capillary fragility. Am J Med Sci 1946;211:539-43.

20. Ponce P, Mello-Gomes E. Idiopathic edema, tubular metabolism of water and sodium. Acta Med Port 1991;4:236-41 [in Portuguese].

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2019.