Reader’s Question: I am taking a diuretic to help rid my body of excess buildup of fluid in my legs and knees. I’m exercising and massaging the area, but is there another natural way to get a diuretic effect?
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: I know a lot of older people who have been prescribed these so-called “water pills” for their fluid-reducing effects. But sometimes, what these patients are experiencing is more than just bloating.
When some damage creates a blockage in your lymphatic system and lymphatic fluid builds up, that’s called lymphedema. It can make your limbs swell, feel heavy, and ache, and it can make it difficult to move as much as you used to.
“Water pills” aren’t always the best option here because lymphatic fluid isn’t just any old liquid in your system.
The lymphatic fluid is your body’s wastewater, full of toxins and infectious agents that have moved out of your cells to be circulated away from your vital organs and “locked up” to be dealt with later.
But sometimes, the stuff from your body’s “drainage” system collects and doesn’t move out the way it should.
If you’re overweight, shedding some excess pounds can help alleviate the symptoms of lymphedema – but it won’t alleviate it.
In addition to keeping the affected limb elevated, keeping this protein-rich lymph moving on a daily basis is crucial.
Fortunately, I’ve learned that giving this system even just a little attention will go a long way in preventing and treating disease, as well as promoting wellness.
The lymphatic system’s movement and flow is dependent upon everyday motion and movements – like walking, exercise, and even deep breathing.
Things are much more likely to get backed up if you lead a sedentary life. But all it takes is getting your body moving for at least 20 minutes of exercise, a few times a week.
You can also see a therapist who specializes in lymphatic drainage massage, which is a gentle and relaxing therapy that helps expel extra fluid through long, free-flowing strokes along the body.
One great natural detoxifier – and diuretic – is dandelion. Rich in vitamins A and C and high in minerals, it’s much more than a weed! The root of this flower promotes overall health of the digestive system, acting as a natural diuretic, inducing regularity, and ridding the body of excess salt and water.
Though readily available in capsules, dandelions are often boiled and chilled, added to salads, or eaten hot as greens. Dried and powdered, dandelion can be added to beverages such as tea or coffee for nutritional value and digestive purposes.
Check with your doctor before starting any new supplement to make sure it won’t interfere with any of your meds or other supplements you may be taking.
Email a question to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may choose yours to answer next.Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing