If you’ve been following my blog, I have used Chinese herbs and a plant based diet to successfully control most of my lower leg lymphedema. Key word is most. The herbs seem to reduce it about 90% so it’s barely a bother, but it was regularly swelling a bit during the day. However it would resolve itself at night, which was key, and the swelling was different than it was when I first started.
This has been working for me for about the last five years, with me needing to take another course of Chinese herbs periodically to maintain it. This of course is a fabulous outcome and I am very grateful it has worked. However, recently I was starting to believe that this was the best result I could get.
Happily, I had an interesting experience over the last months. Several months ago, my left leg had started swelling a bit again, which was really frustrating, so I was beginning to accept that even with chinese herbs giving me lasting relief, that my legs would require ongoing occasional treatment. That’s not a big deal, but it kind of doused what remaining hope I had that just maybe, over time, this might get better or go away.
Fortunately, a couple weeks back on the herbs and the swelling backed down again, but when it settled back there was a bit more swelling than before, which was of concern.
Fast forward a few months. Long story, but my husband and I decided to sell our house and get back to living in a mountain community, since we both like hiking, biking, etc. So we began renting in a few places until we found the right place and bought again.
By doing that, my daily life was different. I didn’t have my office and a desk so I was mostly working wherever I could, sitting on a couch or bed with my legs horizontal. I was also walking more since we were in walkable locations without a car.
After about two months, I realized I had not even thought about my legs lately. I didn’t have that constant sensation of swelling or liquid—even though it is well controlled with the Chinese herbs, I still have that sensation and my legs swell some during the day (but it would resolve overnight). But now…..my legs had gotten way better! I looked down and my legs looked the same size. That was new, as the left leg as ALWAYS bigger.
I was sooo happy. This was something new.
I also realized how light my legs felt. I no longer had the fluid in my left leg. Hiking was way easier! Really interesting stuff.
So, cause and effect, I believe not sitting at a desk, where my already weakened lymphatic system would have to work doubly hard, seemed to help. Maybe it even allowed the lymphatic system to repair a bit? That’s just a guess. I know it is not always possible to work at a desk less. I’m a business owner who deals with clients remotely, so I can do it. It was a bit uncomfortable at first, but now I am used to it and almost as productive as sitting at a desk.
Second, walking more, even if it was just one 20 minute walk in the morning, then an hour walk or hike later, seemed to help. More circulation I suppose. I’ve read about exercise being the “engine” of the lymphatic system. Well, walking gets your entire body in motion. It seems to do a really good job for that. I would do harder workouts too, but even if I was busy I could get out for walks.
Is this a long term fix?
I realize this may be pure symptom control, but the frequent walking is easy to integrate and obviously extremely healthy. And I can do the working with legs horizontal with just occasional time sitting at a desk.
I have heard about people who can swim a half hour a day and get the same result. I tried that and it did nothing for me. But walking is easy and I can do do it.
It also makes me wonder if this will help long term. If walking will help “normalize” my weak lymphatic system short term, if I do this continuously could it help gradually make the lymphatic system stronger? Maybe not, but who knows.
Or, I also wonder if the herbs are continuing to work. In my discussions with Dr. Lee, who has been helping me with this condition, he said that we should not take herbs for a long period of time, since they normally will get your body on the path to healing itself. Maybe that is what happening to my legs? Not sure.
Anyway, that’s where I”m at. I am excited to share it and hope some of you are experiencing similar successes.
Has anyone experienced something similar to this? Or give it a try, if you can and let me know.