Related Terms

Fluid Retention; Lymphedema; Swelling; Water Retention

Edema is swelling in the body. It is caused by a build-up of fluids. It is common in the legs, arms, and feet. It can also make the skin look stretched or shiny.

Medicine and healthy habits can help manage swelling. It depends on what is causing it. Natural therapies have been used to help prevent swelling. They should not be used in place of standard care for health problems that cause edema.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

These therapies are likely to ease swelling:

  • Horse chestnut comes from a tree that is grown worldwide. It can be used as an extract.A1
  • Flavonoids are plant metabolites.A6
  • Ruscus is a type of flowering plant that can be used as an extract.A5

May Be Effective

These therapies are likely to ease swelling:

  • Chlorella is a green alga that is high in vitamins and minerals. It may help prevent swelling.A2
  • Phlebotonics are made from plant extracts and synthetic compounds.A4

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


A. Herbs and Supplements

A1. Siebert U, Brach M, et al. Efficacy, routine effectiveness, and safety of horsechestnut seed extract in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and large observational studies. Int Angiol. 2002 Dec;21(4):305-315.

A2. Nakano S, Takekoshi H, et al. Chlorella pyrenoidosa supplementation reduces the risk of anemia, proteinuria and edema in pregnant women. Plants Food Hum Nutr. 2010;65(1):25-30.

A3. Ho D, Jagdeo J, et al. Is There a Role for Arnica and Bromelain in Prevention of Post-Procedure Ecchymosis or Edema? A Systematic Review of the Literature. Dermatol Surg. 2016 Apr;42(4):445-463.

A4. Martinez-Zapata MJ, Vernooij RW, et al. Phlebotonics for venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 6;4:CD003229.

A5. Kakkos SK, Allaert FA. Efficacy of Ruscus extract, HMC and vitamin C, constituents of Cyclo 3 fort®, on improving individual venous symptoms and edema: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials. Int Angiol. 2017 Apr;36(2):93-106.

A6. Kakkos SK, Nicolaides AN. Efficacy of micronized purified flavonoid fraction (Daflon®) on improving individual symptoms, signs and quality of life in patients with chronic venous disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials. Int Angiol. 2018 Apr;37(2):143-154.

B. Other Therapies

B1. Smyth RM, Aflaifel N, et al. Interventions for varicose veins and leg oedema in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Oct 19;(10):CD001066.

B2. Müller M, Klingberg K, et al. Manual lymphatic drainage and quality of life in patients with lymphoedema and mixed oedema: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Qual Life Res. 2018 Jun;27(6):1403-1414.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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