see also edema.
Lymphedema is characterized by swelling of one of the
limbs of the body caused by an accumulation of lymph fluids
as the lymph system is unable to properly transport and
dispose of them. Although both arms or both legs may
be affected more commonly it is in just one.
Lymphedema differs from edema (see more below) in that the
fluid causing the swelling is from the lymph system rather
than the circulatory system. A number of factors may
cause this build up of lymphatic fluid.
Primary lymphedema is the term used to describe a
fundamental flaw in the functioning of the lymphatic system.
This may be from birth (congenital lymphedema) or from
disease (lymphedema praecox, Meige disease, Milroy disease).
Much more common is secondary lymphedema. In these
situations the lymph system has been damaged or partly
removed in some area of the body. The swelling will
occur in the area of the body serviced by this
non-functioning part of the lymph system. Most
commonly today this damage comes from medical procedures
related to cancer treatment. This can include lymph
gland removal, direct radiation, collateral radiation, or
other procedures. Vascular surgery and scar excisions
may also damage the lymph system.
Outside the US a parasite, Wuchereria bancrofti,
transmitted by mosquitoes near and in tropical areas, causes
a form of lymphedema termed filariasis. Severe
swelling of the leg, arm, or genital area may occur.
see the Lymphatic System tab above for more detailed
information about the lymphatic system.
Edema, Lymphedema, and Lipedema
Edema is caused by excessive
fluids from the circulatory system accumulating in the
tissues of the body. This may be the body’s normal
response to an injury that causes temporary swelling or a
problem with the heart or circulatory system that results in
longer term swelling. If the swollen area is pressed
with the finger and removed the mark will soon disappear.
This is known as nonpitting edema. A diuretic may help
Lymphedema is caused by
excessive lymphatic fluids in an area of the body.
This is usually because the lymphatic system is impaired and
unable to handle the amount of fluid present thus causing
swelling. These areas may be subject to infection or
slow healing. In the early stages if the swollen area
is pressed with the finger and removed a mark will remain
for an extended period of time. This is known as
pitting edema. Lymphedema will not respond to a
Lipedema affects primarily
women and may be associated with genetics and hormones.
The symptoms are enlarged legs and buttocks as fat is
abnormally deposited in the layer below the skin.
These fat accumulations do to not respond directly to normal
dieting and exercise.
[search helps: swelling,
Oils, blends & products
Oils & Blends:
AromaTouch, CypressC, GrapefruitC, HelichrysumC,
LavenderE, Lemon, LemongrassC,
Lime, Melaleuca, Peppermint, Roman Chamomile, RosemaryEC,
Essential oils based
products: Life Long Vitality supplements,
GX Assist, PB Assist
Citrus BlissC, ThymeC, Wild
understand the E and C superscript go to Home and
scroll to New Helps.
The lymph system is the major tool the body has to
collect and rid itself of toxins. If lymphedema or
local swelling of lymph nodes is present it often is an
indication of a disease or distress in the body. It is
important to identify this root cause of the problem.
To reduce the immediate discomforts of lymphedema a number
of techniques that have been suggested and are listed below.
The severity of lymphedema can vary widely so one or more of
these protocols may apply to any situation.
Life Long Vitality
supplements - Take these consistently to build a
foundation of body strength.
AromaTouch Technique -
Periodically apply the ATT because this protocol,
with the essential oils used, is designed to strengthen the
immune system and bring the body to homeostasis.
Oils - Helichrysum, Lemon, and other oils not only
cleanse but help to strengthen the lymph system.
Internal cleansing protocols:
Lemon essential oil -
Drink ample water each day, at least 4 - 6 cups, with 1-3
drops of Lemon added.
Zendocrine cleanse - Use
Zendocrine Detoxification Complex and Zendocrine Blend as
a daily basis to facilitate a more efficient lymphatic
system. This is a mild cleanse for the liver and the other
cleansing organs of the body.
Individual Essential Oils
- A number of suggested protocols are included in the
experiences of others. The following is one of those:
carrier oil (originally I used EVOO and it worked well for me)
drops Roman Chamomile
drop Cinnamon (because it increases the effectiveness of
Topical cleansing protocols:
Direct topical -
For mild local swelling apply Lavender or Lime directly
to the swollen area
1 or 2 drops of Peppermint to bottoms of feet stimulates
MLD or Manual Lymph Drainage
This is spoken of as the first protocol for difficult lymphedema. It is best done by a professional massage
therapist. This is a gentle touch massage designed to assist
the lymphatic system eliminate toxins by unblocking any
obstructed vessels. At the same time it strengthens
the lymph system.
Lymphatic massage or self massage
- This uses the same principles as MLD but allows
those that require this help often to care for themselves at
home. Again it is best to receive assistance and
training from a professional.
Essential Oils - Use
essential oils with lymphatic massage by topically
applying 1-5 drops (depending on area involved) and
gently dispersing over the area and allowing to absorb
before massaging. Cypress, Grapefruit, Lavender,
and Peppermint are all mentioned as beneficial.
AromaTouch blend contains all these oils and is an
Also noted is the benefit of using FCO with the massage
to increase absorption. Also Zendocrine added on
the lower legs improved results.
Differences - MLD or any
lymphatic massage differs from muscle or deep tissue massage
in the following ways:
Gentle with very little pressure. Primary motion moves the
skin, rather than a sliding action over the skin. This
stimulates lymph vessels that lie just below the surface of
No massage oil is used or if essential oils are used let
them absorb for a few minutes so the gentle movement of the
skin is achieved.
Lymph flow is from the extremities to the trunk (heart) of
the body. The massage movements are always towards the
trunk but clearing of blockage needs to start at the trunk
and move to the extremities. Therefore, the massage
stimulation starts near the truck of the body and moves to
the extremities but the motions are generally from the
extremity to the trunk.
Motions that may be
Gently press fingers, move skin in circular motion, release.
Fingers tight together, gently press, stretch skin by moving
fingers apart, twist and release.
Gentle sweeping motion toward the trunk. Usually the
final strokes of the procedure.
Baths or soaking protocols:
Full bath - Here is
one Lymph Detoxification Bath found successful:
drops Roman Chamomile
• Mix salt and oils together thoroughly then add to
water, soak till warm. Hydrate often with 1-2 drops of Lemon
essential oil in water
Foot bath - Using
the same oils as the full bath or consider:
cup of Epsom salt
5 drops Lemon or Lime
• 5 drops of Melaleuca
hot water, soak feet until water cools
Experiences and Testimonials of others
MtnMama - My 8 yr
old son has lymphedema in his left arm. Has anyone had any
experience with using essential oils to help reduce swelling
caused by lymphedema? Does anyone have any knowledge of
which essential oils may help?
Pat - I can suggest the Aroma
Touch Technique on this young man. Also massaging the lymph
node areas using the AromaTouch blend and/or Peppermint
which helps reduce swelling.
Sharon - Cypress is a great oil for
lymphedema. Also, rubbing gently upwards from the hand will
relieve the swelling, being careful to cause no pain.
Tracy - Besides Cypress and AromaTouch,
both being very helpful for the swelling, you can add in
Grapefruit as it is de-congesting to the Lymphatic system.
Start with a "light, pumping stroke" going towards the axilliary (armpit) area. Start closest to the armpit then
working further away, always moving your light pumping
strokes toward the armpit. You want to open and clear the
area closest to the armpit before moving further down the
arm and further away from the armpit. Your strokes should
always move toward the armpit.
I don't know what condition is causing his lymphedema.
Be sure that whatever his condition is that the massage is
not "contraindicated" before doing this. Also if you decide
to use Peppermint, be careful in applying it to the armpit
lymph nodes. You'll want to dilute it, the armpits and
groin areas where lymph nodes are grouped can be sensitive
areas. The AromaTouch is a great blend as it contains the
Cypress, the Grapefruit and the Peppermint in the blend
MtnMama - I wanted to share our success
to help other people who suffer from lymphedema. I took a
combo lots of advice plus some. I gave my son a bath with 2
drops each of Cypress and Lemongrass, then I immediately did
his lymphatic drainage massage using a carrier oil plus
these oils in this way: (I layered them but concentrated
some of the oils in certain spots.)
Carrier oil plus 3 drops Lemongrass lightly spotted all over
arm and hand and used to start massage (clearing at
shoulders and stimulating lymph system at belly button)
Carrier oil plus 3 drops Cypress dotted over entire area and
then used to draw lymphatic fluid across chest and back and
draw fluid up upper arm.
Carrier oil plus 3 drops Slim & Sassy over entire area
especially finger tips where there is hardening and then
used to draw fluid up from forearm, hand and fingers.
Carrier oil plus 3 drops Clary Sage and Geranium used to
quickly repeat all the steps focusing on drawing fluid
across chest and back. PHEW!
Finally I bandaged him the way we've been instructed by the
therapist and off to bed.
The next morning... the results were incredible! He
had wrinkles of loose skin on his hand, he was able to wear
his compression garment that he had become too swollen for
last year! He felt better all day! Of course anyone with
Lymphedema knows that we have to keep this up daily or he
will swell right back up, but it is all about effectively
managing swelling to avoid all kinds of problems. Super
excited, I hope this info can help someone else!
Kathy - Just
found this, thought it was cool. A liver and lymphatic
system detox blend is Geranium, Rosemary, Roman
Chamomile, Fennel, carrot, German Chamomile, Helichrysum and
blue tansy. This combination cleanses the liver
and the lymphatic system of high levels of toxins. I don’t
have all the oils so I think I'll just take equal parts of
Geranium, Rosemary, Roman Chamomile and Helichrysum and try
that! Any other suggestions?
Laura - That is cool!
Thank you! Um... what else... how about some
Grapefruit to help with the cleansing?
Pat - The Zendocrine blend is a
wonderful liver cleanse and also takes care of kidney, skin,
bowel and lungs.
Sharon - What oils
would be good for massaging someone with lymphedema in their
Amelia - I actually have some experience
with this because I have lymphedema in my legs and I came up
with my own blend for massaging onto the lymphatics
especially concentrating on the ones behind my knees, groin
area, and abdomen...fyi I also use it on the lymph nodes
under my arms and near the breasts as well as the ones in my
neck and shoulder area. I have also found that if I massage
this oil directly on the spot or spots that are most swollen
this helps as well. I will give you my recipe but let me
just say first that the oils I primarily use are Lavender,
Lemongrass, and Roman Chamomile and I also use Lemon and
Lime. I don't have Cypress so I can't really comment on it
but I can tell you that these oils have helped me
TREMENDOUSLY. I also do the diet "EAT RIGHT FOR YOUR TYPE"
(Blood type) and see a naturopathic doctor along with a
medical doctor. But I can tell you that the natural doctor,
my diet and now doTerra essential oils have all been the key
in controlling most of the extra fluid. My blend is:
carrier oil (originally I used EVOO & it worked well for me)
drops Roman Chamomile
drop Cinnamon (because it increases the effectiveness of
Also if the swelling is really bad I apply Lime oil on
the swollen area and sometimes on my lymph nodes as well. I
also put 10 drops of Lemon and 5 drops of Lime in my water
everyday religiously...and drink it throughout the day.
Let me know if you want it I also created my own recipe
for a detox bath using many of these same oils and that
helps as well.
Elaine - I'd love to have your bath
detox recipe. I'm a massage therapist and usually recommend
1/2 C Hydrogen Peroxide, plus 1/2 C baking soda in bath
water, after energywork or bodywork, to open up the pores
and pull out the toxins easily.
Amelia – Here is my detox bath recipe:
LYMPH DETOX BATH
drops Roman Chamomile
Mix salt and oils together thoroughly then add to HOT
water (as hot as you can stand) then soak for about 20-30
min. Make sure you are re- hydrating yourself either as you
soak or immediately following. Sometimes I also add a drop
or 2 of Frankincense or Serenity if I'm having an especially
Jan - I’ve been doing the Lymphatic
massage with AromaTouch multiple times a week for a friend
with fairly severe lymphodema. I always use FCO to help
slowdown evaporation and increase absorption. Also, she
began having better results when we added in Zendocrine up
the inside and outside of the lower legs.
Editorial note –
The following comments have been edited for brevity while
trying to maintain the impact.
Connie - My legs
are swollen from my calves down to my feet. My left
leg is worse than my right. They have been swollen
since the summer of 2000 and they have progressively gotten
worse. I have seen countless doctors regarding this
issue and have been told incorrectly that I have everything
from lupus to cancer to fibromyalgia. … Over the last
year, my doctors have tried wrapping my legs to no avail and
right now they want to wrap them again.
Recently (over the last 4-5 months) I have been getting
little bumps on my left leg. They eventually start to
weep clear fluid and then every once in a while, one becomes
a sore. I ended up in the ER and was told I had a
flesh eating bacteria in my leg and was put on antibiotics.
After a month I started using doTERRA products and it
Now I have another really bad sore that keeps getting bigger
and I have used Melaleuca, Lavender and Patchouli as well.
It is starting to get really infected and it also hurts too.
Any suggestions would be very helpful?
Pat - You have to cleanse inside and
treat the problem internally. These are suggestions only, I
am not medically trained but these are the things I would do
if it were me:
I would start the GX cleanse for 10 days followed by PB
Assist. After completing this 10 day regiment I would wait
10 days and repeat, then wait 10 more days and repeat it for
the third time.
would also start the LLV pack to supplement important
would take a capsule twice a day with 5 drops of Melissa and
5 drops of On Guard for 2 weeks.
would also do an Epsom foot bath. 1/4 cup of Epsom salt
mixed with 5 drops Lemon or Lime and 5 drops of Melaleuca in
hot water. Soak your feet until water cools.
can also drop Melissa and Melaleuca directly on the open
sore, and rub Peppermint on your ankles and bottom of your
Connie - I completely understand that
you are not a medical doctor! I have given the medical
field over a decade to try and resolve my problems but I am
WAY worse now that when it all started... so now
i'm trying natural things! Feel so blessed that I found
doTERRA products! so far, they have been absolutely
amazing! I have quite a collection of them now, just need
to learn the correct way to use some of them so my body will
receive the most benefit!
Prior to using doTERRA essential oils I had been sick and
I mean really sick for OVER a year. … Now I haven't used my
cane, I am now off of my anti depressant completely (yes, I
tapered off slowly and with my doctor's knowledge), I have
also been able to cut down on quite a few of my other meds
as well. I now have more of a life than I've had for
years! Thank you for taking the time to help me!
Sandi - A great lymph cleanse drink is:
• 2 T
grade B pure maple syrup
Mix and drink 6 oz at least 1-2 times per day. My
girlfriend just sips on the drink all day. I can't stand the
taste of it, so I double the oils and put them in a capsule
and chug water all day.
Michelle – This is something I relate
to. For me, the swelling and weeping in my legs has
been related to circulatory and emotional issues. In
addition, the top of the left foot and the side of my right
foot have been painfully itchy. I was told that the soleus
muscles in my calves, the body's second "heart" that helps
pump blood back to the heart, needed to be moved and
exercised several times a day. I also had some good
chiropractic adjustments. So in addition to my
essential oils and supplements, I've been getting regular
full-body lymphatic massages, adjustments, and lots of
little daily walks. My body is beginning to heal.
Sandi - It's interesting that the top of
your foot itches. That is where your lymph signal system is.
You can move the lymph by pushing/massaging from the outside
of the foot to the inside of the foot (on the top). Then
drain it by pushing in a downward direction between your big
toe and 2nd toe.
Connie - I tried the foot bath last
night and I’m not sure if it's just wishful thinking on my
part but I think it's looking a little better today.
Editor - Another
episode of swelling.
Chrystal - Last October I started having
swelling in my lower legs. The right side was worse
than the left and I found that exercising helped. When
I went to the doctor in January, he said I would have to
wear support hose to prevent the blood from pooling in my
ankles as the veins were not able to close. He also
recommended exercising everyday. I was really resistant to
wearing support hose because of how hard they are to put on
and how expensive they are and I already have a problem with
sweaty feet and I thought that would make that problem worse
so I decided to just deal with it.
I asked a friend who knew about oils and they suggested
Aroma Touch and Frankincense. I tried these for 2
weeks with not a lot of help, and the swelling was getting
worse where I had swollen ankles all the time. I read that
Lavender helps with swelling or edema so I started using
that and at the same time I was using Lemon, Lime, and Wild Orange for a completely different reason. Today I showed my
friend the results and she told me I had ankles again.
So if you are having trouble with swelling in your ankles
try some Lavender and citrus oils.
Sharon - How are
you using the oils? Under the feet? Internally? How often?
I know someone with this problem whom nothing else has
worked for in over 20 years now so I'd like to try it on
her. Thanks! This is exciting indeed!
Crystal - I have been using them once in
the morning and once at night 2-3 drops each. Here is the
kicker--I wasn't planning on this working and my body really
responds to citrus oils and Lavender. I rub them right on my
legs where the swelling is.
Maria - My aunt
recently had a brain aneurysm and the left side of her body
has been very affected. She's having swelling in her left
foot and I'm wondering what oils would be good for the
Rob - I would try Cypress neat using
massage and use the Aroma Touch Technique. I would
augment that with Frankincense just prior to the normal
application of Lavender. Cypress is very good for
swelling, water retention etc. Deep blue is great for
Pat - I have had some swelling on my
ankles and I read that Birch would help and it has. A
definite wonder oil. I also recommend Cypress and giving
your aunt the Aroma Touch Technique would be a very kind and
helpful thing to do for her.
Jan - Citrus oils can also be very
effective in reducing swelling.
Loryjean - I am allergic to bee stings
and was taught to rub a burnt Lemon half on my foot when I
got stung. I'm not sure why the burning was important, but
it did help take the swelling and pain down. Lemon oil would
be SO much more effective, and less messy!
Susan – We have a
friend with swelling in her feet and ankles. Any
suggestions for that?
Rob - On edema. I would suggest Cypress
and Lemon massage to the areas of swelling and to the reflex
area on the inner leg just above the calf or on the top half
of the calf. Some people use a carrier oil with Cypress,
I've never needed to.
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a key component in the body’s
immune system. In its defense against infection
the body produces white blood cells, or leukocytes, that
are able to locate, identify, and destroy invading
pathogens. These leukocytes are produced and
stored in the lymphoid organs that include bone marrow,
the thymus, the spleen, and the system of lymph vessels
There are approximately 500 to 700 lymph nodes spread
throughout the body with clusters found in the neck,
chest, underarms, abdomen, and groin. These are
small bean shaped organs that vary from very small to
about ½ inch long. They are linked together
through lymph vessels (lymphangions). Lymph is the
fluid that these vessels carry. The lymph fluid
originates from the outermost parts of the circulatory
system where blood plasma (liquid and protein) enters
the tissues of the body. This extracellular fluid brings
nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to the cells and
receives waste and toxins from the cells. Most of
this returns to the venous side of the circulatory
system. But, about ten percent of this fluid
enters into the lymph system, which is a one-way path to
drain this lymph through the lymph nodes and eventually
back to the blood stream.
The fluid enters the lymph system through permeable
lymphatic capillaries that then join together in a
network of tubes that eventually become the lymphatic
vessels that carry the lymph through the nodes and on
into the bloodstream at the base of the neck through the
subclavian veins. As the fluid passes through the
lymph nodes dead cells and other waste are filtered out
while in another part of the lymph node the lymphocytes,
a type of white blood cell, kills pathogens that are in
the fluid. Because the body will increase these
white blood cells as such an infection is detected the
lymph nodes become enlarged. This then becomes a
noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable signal of disease
or distress in the body.
The drainage paths of lymph fluids is interesting.
Note the illustration. On the right side of the
body the right side of the head, neck, arm, and upper
quadrant of the body flow to the right subclavian vein.
Where on the left side these same upper portions, the
left side of the head, neck, arm, and upper quadrant
flow to the left subclavian vein but all of the lower
portion of the body drains to this left subclavian vein
as well. From the legs and lower trunk of the body
fluid drains to the cisterna chili where it is
temporarily stored until it passes through the thoracic
duct and on to the left subclavian vein. In some
cases if MLD is required or there has been significant
damage to the lymph system this knowledge may be
The one-way lymph system that returns the lymph fluid
is unlike the circulatory system in that it does not
have a pump like the heart to move the lymph liquid.
This flow has to come from smooth muscle activity and
the ordinary movements of the limbs of the body.
For this reason it is very important to have body
movement on a regular basis to maintain the proper flow
of these fluids.
What Science & Research are saying
Grapeseed Oil Article
This is an excerpt of an article that has some
interesting information that may apply to using Grape Seed
Oil as a carrier with topical application of essential oils.
Grape seeds pack a healthy 'punch' of
proanthocyanidins, by Victoria Dolby,
Edema, the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body's
tissues, often results from capillary malfunctions.
Proanthocyanidins extracted from grape seeds may help
prevent edema by stabilizing the capillary walls and
preventing abnormal capillary permeability. These compounds
may be beneficial in the prevention of high blood pressure,
heart disease, and even provide relief from fibrocystic
breast disease. The anti-edema properties of
proanthocyanidins may also be very useful in combating some
symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.