Edema, Diet, Coldness and Traditional Chinese Medicine


Edema is the accumulation of fluid in the soft tissues and can occur anywhere in the body: head, arms, legs, etc. It is generally a cold condition caused by poor diet and corrected by proper diet (includes herbs). Edema is more common in women than in men.

The body builds up (anabolism) and breaks down (catabolism) largely according to food, nutrients, to which there are only two: building (hot, yang) and cleansing (cold, cleansing). Building nutrients (protein and fat) build, fuel, heat, etc. Cleansing nutrients (water, minerals, sugar, etc.) reduce, cleanse, cool and moisten.

Digestion (acid, enzymes) is a fiery process that not only transforms food, nutrients into blood but also burns excess food (nutrients) and fluids. It is the ultimate fat burner and diuretic. Protein and fat build and fuel digestion. Water, minerals, sugar, fruits and vegetables dilute and weaken.  

Too little, low protein and fat, in the extreme tends to weaken digestion. Too many fruits, vegetables and juices, cold drinks, etc. in the extreme, tend to dilute and weaken digestion, acid and enzymes, reducing nutrient absorption, blood, while increasing waste product: liquid and solid. Whatever food, nutrients not digested, absorbed become waste (solid and liquid) that is stored and eventually eliminated.

Weak digestion tends to cause excess water: urine, loose stools, edema, cellulite, etc. Digestive fire (acid, enzymes) burns and dries all excess fluids via urination and perspiration. Weak digestion burns, metabolizes less water, fat, sugar, etc. More accumulates.

Low protein, low fat (milk, yogurt, beans, nuts and seeds) and high carbohydrate (pasta, bread, salads, tropical fruits, juices, cold drinks, etc.) diets, in the extreme, tend to weaken digestion and elimination while increasing water: mucous, edema, urination, etc.

Edema is generally a cold, damp disease. It tends to attack women more than men, as many women tend to eat low protein, low fat and high carbohydrate diets. Menstruation is also a temporary cause, as monthly blood loss tends to weaken all function, including digestion. Men are the opposite. They tend to eat high protein, high fat diets. They also have testosterone, a very hot, building hormone, giving them an extra metabolic, energy boost.

The middle diet, meal plan (1/3 protein and fat, 1/3 grain, 1/3 vegetables (3- 5, cooked, raw), spices, fruit(1), tea and or soup, 2- 3 times per day, preferably breakfast and lunch), adjusted accordingly is recommended. Spices (cardamom, cumin, fennel, ginger, cayenne, etc.) used in cooking strengthen digestion helping drain excess dampness, moisture. Avoid, reduce potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, raw vegetables, salads; tropical and semi tropical fruit, juices, smoothies, cold drinks, bitter herbs (laxatives), etc.