Six steps to eliminate chronic SWELLING
in the limbs, hands, and feet
Lymphedema steals quality of life from MILLIONS worldwide
Lymphedema is a serious, painful condition that affects roughly 250 million people worldwide. In fact, it surpasses the numbers for multiple sclerosis (MS), AIDS, muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease COMBINED!
And it’s a major indicator of lymphatic dysfunction.
Despite its prevalence, lymphedema remains poorly understood and rarely studied in medical circles. And that’s a real shame, as it can significantly impair quality of life—putting victims at risk for suffering other serious health problems, including life-threatening infections. Plus, when not well-managed, these complications can shorten your life expectancy!
See, your body’s lymphatic system works tirelessly behind the scenes to help fight off disease and infection.
In fact, it’s a one-way drainage system that relies on a clear fluid called “lymph” to trap harmful toxins, waste, debris, abnormal cells, and pathogens… carry them to your lymph nodes… and filter them out of your body.
This vital system also produces white blood cells called lymphocytes, which enhance your immune system’s defenses. And it encompasses your spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow.
Now, the hallmark warning sign of lymphedema—swelling—occurs when this hard-working system begins to FAIL.
So, let’s explore what causes this lymphatic dysfunction. Then, we’ll uncover SIX effective ways to treat and prevent lymphedema…
When the body’s unsung hero fails
When the lymphatic system STOPS working at optimal levels, lymphatic fluid can build up in the body’s soft tissues, causing outward signs of lymphedema, including:
- Swelling, pain, and/or heaviness in a part of
the body, primarily arms or legs
- Tightening and hardening of the skin
- Skin discoloration
- Leaking fluid from the skin
These symptoms can, in turn, lead to loss of mobility and decreased physical activity—which only exacerbate the problem. You may also feel upset, depressed, and angry as you deal with the troubling and uncomfortable symptoms.
But here’s what concerns me the most…
A sluggish lymphatic system also impairs your immune system—which slows wound healing and puts you at greater risk of developing serious infections, like cellulitis (skin infections) and sepsis (blood infections).1 And when not well-managed, these dangerous infections can lead to an early death.
Of course, a compromised immune system due to lymphatic dysfunction has also been implicated in the development of deadly diseases—including cardiovascular disease and even cancer.2
So, now that you better understand what’s really at stake here, let’s discuss what we know about the causes of lymphedema…
The well-known—and little-known—
causes of lymphedema
Globally, the most common cause of lymphedema is a parasite that results in fibrosis of the lymphatic system. Experts now think this may be what afflicted Joseph Merrick, the so-called “Elephant Man.” (I saw one case of this when I was working in India years ago.)
Nowadays, I most commonly see lymphedema as a result of cancer involving the lymphatic system or cancer treatment.
For example, some cancers—such as lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma—originate in the lymphatic system. Lymphedema is often the initial (and sometimes the only) manifestation of the disease.
Other cancers originate in soft tissues around the body, such as the breast or colon, but can spread to your lymph nodes.
In these cases, treatment often involves removal of (or radiation to) the lymph nodes, which can result in lymphatic dysfunction or lymphedema.
But cancer isn’t the only condition associated with lymphedema…
Experts now recognize obesity as a MAJOR cause of lymphatic dysfunction.
In fact, a 2020 study found that obesity can cause inflammation in the lymphatic system—reducing the flow of lymph through the vessels and even causing lymphatic vessels to leak. This creates a traffic jam, if you will, in your hard-working, one-way drainage system.3
Understanding this, it’s really no surprise that a 2016 study found that people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 50 have a much higher risk of developing lymphedema in the lower part of their body. And people with a BMI higher than 80 run a higher risk of developing it in the upper body, too.
We also know that people who suffer from inflammatory conditions—cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis—have a higher risk of developing lymphatic dysfunction and lymphedema.4
It seems these three conditions—obesity, chronic inflammation, and lymphatic dysfunction—all relate to one another and often occur together in a vicious cycle.5
Fortunately, many of the same strategies that help you control obesity and inflammation can also help you avoid developing lymphedema in the first place…
Six effective strategies to combat
and control lymphedema
Let’s start with adopting a healthy Mediterranean-style diet that completely eliminates sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Not only will this kind of diet help you lose weight and reduce inflammation, it will also help you control the swelling and pain associated with lymphedema.6 Some very compelling research even suggests you keep carbohydrate intake below 20 grams per day.
So, fill your plate with plenty of grass-fed and -finished meat; pasture-raised, organic poultry and eggs; wild-caught fish and seafood; organic cruciferous and green, leafy vegetables; healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and cooking oils (like macadamia nut or avocado); berries and some seasonal fruit; and full-fat dairy.
I’d also make sure to cook regularly with turmeric, as curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) works as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
(For deeper dietary insight, order yourself a copy of my A-List Diet, which features several low-carb, high-fat, anti-inflammatory recipes. Go to my website,
www.DrPescatore.com, and navigate to the “books” tab.)
Of course, there is one caveat…
Some foods may activate your immune system and compromise lymphatic function. So, I suggest getting a food sensitivity test to help you uncover, and then avoid, such dietary threats. The one I use in my practice is the ALCAT test, which checks for up to 200 food intolerances.
Proper hydration also plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimal lymphatic function. So, make sure to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day.
I suggest keeping water with you at all times and taking a big sip every couple of minutes. You can also make it a habit to drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning, before each meal, and right before lunch. (For a refresher on how much water you should aim to drink each day, refer to the August 2023 issue of Logical Health Alternatives.)
And remember, alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration.
Next up, good, old exercise—especially weight-bearing exercises involving the affected limbs—can also significantly help manage, if not eliminate, lymphedema symptoms. In fact, in one recent study, exercise boosted lymph fluid clearance rates by a staggering 300 to
Furthermore, if you do suffer from lymphedema, you should locate a professional therapist in your area qualified to give you a lymphatic drainage massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage. Insurance usually covers it.
Finally, there are compression garments you can wear to help stimulate the proper flow of lymphatic fluid and prevent swelling. And, get this—the federal government just passed a law requiring Medicare, starting in January 2024, to cover compression garments as a medical necessity.
A major key to health and longevity
While the lymphatic system may never claim center stage on most medical websites, its significance to your overall health and longevity cannot be overstated.
Indeed, growing evidence suggests that a sluggish or dysfunctional lymphatic system compromises your immune system—putting you at greater risk for developing deadly infections and disease. Not to mention the physical symptoms of lymphedema—such as swelling and pain—can impair your mobility and make your active, thriving lifestyle a thing of the past.
The good news is, many of the strategies that can help control (and prevent) lymphedema also support your overall health and longevity. So, keep building those healthy lifestyle habits. Not only will you feel better day in and day out… you’ll also give your hard-working lymphatic system the vital support it needs!
Supplemental lymphatic support
Supplementation can play a supportive role in managing the pain and swelling of lymphedema. Here are four supplements that I recommend:
1.)Taurine—1,000 mg, twice daily. An essential amino acid, taurine acts as a natural diuretic to help any lymph congestion that you can’t see.
2.)Selenium—200 mcg daily. A mineral found in the soil, selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant.
3.)Fish Oil—1,500 mg of EPA/DHA, twice daily. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA, fish oil can help reduce inflammation associated with lymphedema.
4.)Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)—200 mg daily. Another powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 supports heart health and can help keep that lymph fluid moving well.