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Swelling (oedema)

In naturopathic medicine practices, many options can be explored to reduce swelling, or the cause of the swelling itself. Swelling occurs whenever the organs, skin, or other parts of your body enlarge.

What is swelling (oedema)?

Swelling is the body’s natural response to create inflammation. It draws more blood and fluid to the affected tissue in an attempt to speed healing and provide protection. However, swelling may be problematic, in cases such as chronic swelling or anaphylactic shock etc. Swelling can occur internally, or it can affect your outer skin and muscles. Conditions such as Insect bites, illnesses, or injuries often result in external swelling.

Inflammation in your bones, tissues, or muscles can result in external swelling. Although fluid retention is an internal condition, it may also cause external swelling. Causes for external swelling include: insect bites, a rash, hives, injury, fluid retention, pregnancy, menstruation, hormonal changes or infection.

Please note: Please seek immediate medical attention if you experience rapid, unexplainable swelling, especially if you also experience unexplained weight gain and pain.

Other causes of swelling

These conditions should be ruled out if the swelling is widespread and severe:

Kidney failure

Heart failure

A severe allergic reaction

For mild cases, some at-home measures you can take include:

Avoiding salt: When it comes to managing swelling, reducing salt intake can be beneficial. Excessive salt consumption can contribute to fluid retention and exacerbate swelling. Sodium is a key component of salt, and it plays a role in regulating fluid balance in the body - consuming high amounts of salt can lead to an increase in swelling [1].

Wearing support a stocking: For leg swelling - wearing support stockings or compression stockings can be beneficial for managing swelling. These special stockings are designed to apply gentle pressure to the legs.

Hydration: Getting enough fluids helps reduce swelling. When your body isn’t hydrated enough, it holds onto the fluid it does have, contributing to swelling [2]. Try Sports Electrolyte Fix Liquid (100ml)

Epsom salt bath: Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) may reduce swelling and inflammation. The theory is that Epsom salt draws out toxins and increases relaxation [3]. Try Epsom Salts / Jones the Bones Bath Salts (600g)

Elevate your feet (rest): For leg injuries causing swelling - prop your feet on cushions, pillows, or even things like phone books, when you sleep. If you’re looking to reduce foot swelling while pregnant, try elevating your feet several times a day as well. Aim for about 20 minutes at a time, even on an ottoman or a chair. Try to avoid standing for long periods of time and stay off your feet when you can [4].

Get moving: Try to move a little bit each hour, even if it’s flexing your knees and ankles, or a lap around the office [5].

Massage: Massage can be great for swollen feet and can also promote relaxation. Massage (or have someone massage them for you!) your feet toward your heart with firm strokes and some pressure. This can help move the fluid out of the area and reduce swelling [5].

Diet and supplementation recommendations for swelling

Eating foods high in magnesium can help. Magnesium-rich foods to add to your diet include:





Dark chocolate



Potassium deficiency can contribute to high blood pressure and water retention. If you have no dietary restrictions, consider eating foods containing potassium. Some potassium-rich foods include:

Sweet potatoes

White beans





Supplements: High Potency Magnesium 300mg/ Potassium and Magnesium Citrate Powder

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Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.