Essential Oils for Lymphedema

Lymphedema is the swelling of the hands, feet, arms, or legs that can occur after the loss of or damage to a lymph node. It can be quite uncomfortable for people who suffer from it. Things like light exercise, massage, and compression clothing can aid in drainage and reduce the swelling, but essential oils for lymphedema can also provide relief.

What are the best essential oils for lymphedema?

Citrus oils are the best at reducing swelling in tissues and increasing lymphatic stimulation. Oils in the citrus family include orange, lemon, grapefruit, and tangerine. They can cause sensitivity to light, so applying them at night before bed is often the best option to avoid irritation to the skin. Geranium oil is another anti-inflammatory that can aid in relieving swelling and discomfort from lymphedema. This oil is also thought to have calming and uplifting properties that can aid in sleep and boost the mood. Both citrus and geranium oils are naturally non-toxic, as long as there are no added ingredients.

Can I ingest essential oils?

While essential oils can have amazing benefits for the skin, mood, and mind, it is unwise to consume them. Although it is possible to consume some oils with an expert's guidance, most doctors and aromatherapists do not recommend it. Swallowing essential oils can cause irritation to the mouth, esophagus, and stomach, and can sometimes even be toxic. It's best to keep the oils for smelling and topical application.

How do I use the oils to help my lymphedema?

First, mix whatever essential oil you want to use with either water or a carrier oil (such as jojoba) because essential oils on their own are very potent. Generally, the rule is one drop of essential oil to six drops of carrier oil or water. Apply the mixture to a small area of the arm or leg, and wait about ten minutes to make sure you won't experience any reaction. Once you're sure you have no irritation, start massaging the oil into the swollen area. Start at the area furthest from your heart, then massage upward in firm, circular motions. Don't press too hard, because you don't want to cause more irritation to the area. Once you've moved all the way over the swollen area, apply a little more oil and repeat the process. After about fifteen minutes, the massage combined with the beneficial properties from the oils will help the lymph fluid drain and the swelling with be reduced.

How often should I use essential oils for lymphedema?

Essential oils, as long as they are diluted with something else, are perfectly safe for everyday use. In fact, if you can begin a daily oil massage routine for the affected areas, you will most likely see an improvement in the amount of swelling you have within a few days. At night, you can apply your essential oil mixture like lotion to let the oils soak into the skin and do their job. In the morning, you'll wake refreshed and free of discomfort.