I've just returned from the 11th Australasian Lymphology Association Conference, held in Darwin from 26-28 May, 2016. These conferences are filled with information on the latest research which is always interesting and a bit mind-boggling at times. I was very excited that this year there was a real focus on Lipoedema, a condition I am passionate about. I'll try and set out as much useable information as I can from two speakers in particular - Dr Ramin Shayan from the University of Melbourne, Australia and Associate Professor Karen Herbst from the University of Arizona, USA. In this post I'll focus on Dr Herbst.
Firstly, according to Dr Herbst, a few of the symptoms of lipoedema (for more information click here):
- fatty enlargement of limbs (firstly legs, arms can develop later)
- predominantly women affected, if men then they have low testosterone or liver disease
- bilateral and symmetric
- sluggish lymph
- can have pitting oedema
- vascular fragility and bruising
- varicose veins
- persistent enlargement of limb even after elevation
- calorie restriction doesn't affect size of limbs
- swelling increases with heat
- disproportion between upper and lower body
- feet not involved in early stages
- hyper mobility
- low tissue resistance
- hypothermia of skin
There are different stages:
- Stage 1 - skin still smooth but texture feels different
- Stage 2 - skin is lumpy and nodular
- Stage 3 - lymphoedema is also present
Nodules can be felt in all stages and the good news is that not everyone progresses through all stages.
There are different types:
- Type 1 - buttocks and hips
- Type 2 - waist to knees
- Type 3 - waist to ankles
- Type 4 - arms only
- Type 5 - lower extremity only
The abdomen is involved as well as the area above the pubic area.
OK. So here's the helpful information, now that you have an idea of what's involved symptom wise.
- healthy, anti-inflammatory diet (high fat, high protein and low processed carbohydrates)
- movement (whatever doesn't cause a flare up of symptoms, water based activities seem to work best)
- manual lymphatic drainage (find a practitioner here)
- bandaging (if lymphoedema or fibrosis is also present)
- compression (20-30 mmHg)
- pumps (if you react well to manual lymphatic drainage generally, make sure there is an abdominal piece)
- medications - work with your GP
Dr Herbst has found that amphetamines are helpful (these are more available in the US, basically diet pills). You would need to consult with your doctor to find out more.
She also recommends Butcher's Broom as it helps to increase lymphatic pumping and helps prevent venous insufficiency.
Here are the BIG yet surprisingly simple things you can do for yourself:
- intermittent fasting. This helps get natural amphetamines into the body. She recommends a 20 hour fast - water and herbal teas during the day and normal dinner. For more information she recommended the regimen by Dr Jason Fung. There is a book available but I can only find the Kindle edition at the moment
- selenium - it inhibits inflammation and decreases oedema. Her recommendation is to get that from eating three Brazil nuts a day! You couldn't get much easier than that. She suggests starting with one nut and increasing to three
- lemon - half a lemon squeezed into water daily
- avoid MSG
Dr Herbst recommended the book Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide - I could only find a Kindle edition on Amazon but you may find it in your bookstore.