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Acupuncture for Edema

Water retention, also known as fluid retention or edema, occurs when excess fluids build up in your body. The body is made largely of water. When due for any reason excess water is gathered in the body it means there is an imbalance to maintain the fluid balance.

All the systems in the body, the circulatory system, kidneys, hormones, lymphatic systems, and others aid to maintain an optimum level of water in the body. If there is a malfunction in one or more of these systems resulting in excess fluid accumulation, the condition is known as Edema or water retention.

Edema usually affects the ankles, arms, face, feet, and legs. The symptoms depend on the area water retention is affecting some of the common edema symptoms experienced include:

  • Swelling
  • Shiny or puffy skin
  • Changes in skin color
  • Stiff joints
  • Aches in body
  • Tenderness of the area
  • Weight gain

Causes of Edema: Chinese Medicine Perspective

In Chinese Medicine, Edema is a sign of organ system deficiency. Dysfunction of lungs, kidneys, and spleen are often pinpointed as the cause of edema. Excess water overflows into muscles and the skin when these organs fail to perform their tasks of converting, transferring, and dispersing fluids.This dysfunction could be due to external pathogens or to internal injury.

Edema can be distinguished into two types: Yin Edema and Yang Edema.

Yang edema: comes about due to external pathogens that invade the body and cause an imbalances and organs to dysfucntion. This type of Edema usually starts at the top of the body and spreads downward, affecting the entire body. Yang edema is a heat and/or excess condition characterised by glossy, tight, non-pitting skin.

Yin Edema: occurs when Qi is disrupted, resulting in spleen and kidney malfunction, as a result of poor diet, injuries, sexual overindulgence, or prolonged sickness. It usually starts at the bottom of the body and works its way up to affect the entire body. Yin edema is a chronic, cold, deficiency condition characterised by loose, dull, pitted skin.

acupuncture for edema

Chinese Medicine’s View of Edema

In Chinese TCM theories, Qi is the energy that flows in the body freely and brings about many functions through the circulation of blood and fluid that provide the whole body with nutrients.

When the Qi is obstructed,  it can cause Qi stagnation . When Qi is stagnated, it slows down or in some cases stop fluid transport and balance throughout the body. This leads to the accumulation of fluid, which appears in the body as fluid retention. As there is not sufficient Qi (Vital energy), it lead to also stops the blood flow and causes stasis that makes the circulation of blood around the body very slow.

The water content of the blood leaves the vessels and crosses the vessel walls into the cavity, and accumulates there causing swelling, pain, and stiffness in the feet, joints, and other extremities.

This retained water in the body then thickens and becomes phlegm and causes dampness in the body.

Chinese believe that all diseases in the body have dampness in their root causes. Problems like joint pains, headaches, depression, fatigue and so many others are attributed to the presence of dampness in the body. This dampness might be the result of internal factors or external factors translated as confusion; impaired vision and fatigue in the affected person.

acupuncture for edema

Chinese view the fluid in the body as a small pool. All the systems work together to keep the water flowing with the help of Qi through blood. When any abnormality causes qi and blood stagnation, the water accumulates until it changes into phlegm, which is one of the causes of dampness in the body that ultimately leads to a sick state, and the body lost balance result in difficult to metabolise the water effectively.

When any abnormality causes qi and blood stagnation, the water accumulates until it changes into phlegm, which is one of the causes of dampness in the body that ultimately leads to a sick state, and the body lost balance result in difficult to metabolise the water effectively.

It is also very common for women to experience water retention before their period. Learn 6 ways to relieve water retention before period here.

Acupuncture for Edema

Acupuncture is Chinese alternative therapy during which fine needles are inserted into the body at specific points to helps stimulate body organ function.

This Edema natural treatment helps relieve fluid retention in the body as it encourages blood flow, nourish Kidney yang and fluid movement through the body.

acupuncture for edema

The flow of blood and fluid through the body lessens the water retention, as the water also gets reabsorbed into the vessels and capillaries to go around the body. This reduces the swelling and inflammation caused due to blood and fluid stagnation.

Water retention is reduced in the body when the nerves of the kidney and endocrine system are stimulated by Acupuncture. Preventing your body from accumulating extra water can help you lose weight quickly and keep it off.

A study out of the Department of Korean Gynecology at the College of Korean Medicine in Seoul demonstrated that treatment with acupuncture was able to significantly reduce some water retention symptoms such as swelling and weight gain.Another trial held in control groups to study the effect of acupuncture in people with water retention due to lymphatic obstruction was studied.

This therapy showed surprisingly good results in regulating the flow of the lymphatic system and getting rid of the fluid retention caused by this inflammation.

Combine Acupuncture With Moxibustion for Enhanced Results

Acupuncture alone is a great way to manage and get to the root cause of Edema, however, acupuncture when combined with Moxibustion can offer enhanced results. Moxibustion is another Chinese therapy during which moxa is burned very close to the skin to stimulate blood and fluid flow throughout the body.

A study was carried out on individuals suffering from edema. The participants were divided into two groups. One group underwent only acupuncture and another group was treated with moxibustion in combination with warm needle acupuncture.

The results indicated that the second group which was treated with both therapies in conjunction showed better results as compared to the acupuncture group. The results were faster and more effective. Read more about how Moxibustion can help with water retention here.

Natural Remedies for Edema

Chinese medicine has long been used as a combination of herbs and other natural ingredients to help relieve water retention symptoms. Formulas are often prescribed based on the individual condition as part of a TCM treatment plan for water retention. These herbs are commonly used in the traditional formula to help restore balance and improve Qi and circulation. 

water retention remedy

Water Retention Remedy 

Water Retention Remedy by GinSen are natural supplements that are expertly formulated to remove excessive bodily fluid that results from indigestion. Made from the finest natural ingredients, this herbal supplement eliminates symptoms like bloating and gas, swollen ankle, diarrhoea, IBS, along with water retention. Water Retention Remedy support proper bodily fluid balance and maintain water equilibrium.

How many acupuncture sessions are needed to see improvement in edema symptoms?

What are the acupuncture points used for treating water retention and edema?

Is acupuncture safe for treating water retention during pregnancy?

Acupuncture is generally considered safe for treating water retention during pregnancy, however, it’s important to avoid some acupuncture points to prevent any potential risk for the mother and baby. At GinSen, our practitioner are aware of any contraindications and precautions to ensure a safe treatment.

Can acupuncture help with lymphedema in legs ?


Chinese medicine is a powerful holistic therapy that helps to naturally decrease edema in the body while also addressing the underlying causes of edema.  Acupuncture and chinese medicine helps restoring balance to the body, TCM can help to reduce swelling and puffiness, improve circulation and provide relief from uncomfortable symptoms.

For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you with edema, book your free consultation with our Chinese Medicine experts today

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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