8 Natural Steps to Combat Lymphedema
Written by: Steve Fillmore
After my 3 rounds of chemo were complete, I started to notice that my feet were swelling up. I had never experienced swelling in my feet before so this was new. I contacted my oncologist and he referred me to a lymphedema therapist.
The lymphedema therapist told me that basically, I would have to live with this post-chemo condition and deal with it. She prescribed me very expensive compression socks that were of course, not covered by insurance.
I disagreed with how I had been diagnosed by my doctors and searched for a more natural approach to healing and I found many ways to naturally reduce the lymphedema in my feet. It took persistence, but I refused to give up.
Here’s what I found that worked for me. Maybe it will help you too.
1. Juice. I started to juice a lot of veggies. I would consume up to 4-5 servings of green juice every day. I found out that green juice and all those veggies were great anti-inflammatories. In addition to the veggies, turmeric was a great anti-inflammatory, which I added often. I kept out any high sugar fruits, such as apples and bananas. Juicing also balanced my hormones, while chemo screwed them up. My typical juice blend would be:
2. Reduce all processed foods, white flours, sugar and acidic foods. This one was tough as it was easy to grab something easy like bread. But I knew I had to do it based on the online research I did about those types of foods. What did I consume to replace all these nasty processed carbs? I replaced them with almond butter, almond milk, organic nuts, veggie stir fries, free range meats and jerky. All healthy and all delicious.
Liver and Blood Tonic
- Handful of kale
- Handful of spinach
- 2 carrots
- Knuckle size ginger and turmeric
- 1 Lemon
- Handful of parsley and cilantro
- 1 cucumber
- 2 stalks of celery
- Small amount of beet
- Add everything into your juicer
- Drink and enjoy!
3. Essential Oils. I created an essential oil blend of Lemongrass, Lavender and Balsam Fir. These essential oils are known for their circulatory support of the lymphatic system. I would apply these essential oils on my lymph nodes in my legs and feet. Then, I would give myself a lymphatic massage or see a massage therapist. I had also used dry brushing. Dry brushing is a technique in which a brush is used to stimulate the lymphatic system by brushing up and towards the heart. This technique was used for centuries by the Scandinavians and Russians.
4. Drink a lot of water. Good quality water is key. I used a counter top water filtering system that made my drinking water alkaline and also added minerals back to the water. On average I had consumed at least 50 oz of water a day. The addition of lemon juice also helped the days when I experienced nausea from the chemo.
5. Epsom Salt Bath. There were days after chemo was complete that I felt really nauseous and lethargic. Epsom baths are known to help remove toxins from the body. Being that the skin is the largest organ, taking a bath is the best way I found to remove toxins. I added a few drops of Lavender essential oil to help me relax.
6. Exercise. Some form of walking and limb movement is good to stimulate the lymphatic system. Being that I had lymphedema in my legs, I would do a daily walk either outside or inside on a stationary treadmill. Another good exercise to do is to jump up and down on a small trampoline. If you don’t have access to a trampoline, you can also jump up and down in place. At times I would rock back and forth on my feet to keep the lymphatic fluid in my body flowing.
7. Fermented foods and gut health. I started craving everything fermented. Sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha… I thought maybe I was pregnant or something! There was one point where I was consuming one jar of sauerkraut a week. But I knew it was good for me because I felt my energy levels balancing and the composition of my skin looked better than before.
8. Essiac Tea. I have been drinking this tea religiously from the time I started chemo. I drink 4 oz in the morning and evening. What is Essiac Tea? Essiac is a mixture of herbs that are combined to make a tea. The original formula included burdock root (Arctium lappa L.), slippery elm inner bark (Ulmus fulva Michx.), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella L.), and Indian rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum L.). Watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.), blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and kelp (Laminaria digitata [Hudson] Lamx.)
Essiac strengthens the immune system, improves well-being, relieves pain, increases appetite, reduces tumor size and extends survival. Some also claim that it cleanses the blood, promotes cell repair, restores energy levels and detoxifies the body. The herbs contained in Essiac are supposed to relieve inflammation, lubricate bones and joints, stimulate the stomach and eliminate excess mucous in organs, tissues, lymph glands and nerve channels.
So there you go! Those are just a few things I did to help reduce and eventually get rid of the lymphedema in my feet. It took some time and patience, but I did it and you can too! Just know this: listen to your body and act on your intuition. I listened to my intuition about my diet and health and it certainly paid off!
Steve Fillmore is a 2-time cancer THRIVER! His motto in life is: Love, Laugh, Live - Love yourself first; Laugh through all the crazy times; Live for life right now! Through proper diet, exercise and mindfulness, Steve has been able to recreate his body to work with and for him.
For fun, you can find Steve either teaching a Zumba class, or creating websites for clients.
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