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Edema, Gan Jiang, Wu Wei Zi and Xi Xin

Edema is the medical term for fluid buildup, and in Chinese medicine, it typically signals a problem with the body’s water metabolism.

Western physicians associate water metabolism with the kidneys, as they are part of the urinary system and are responsible for removing excess fluid from the body. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys also play an important role in controlling fluid levels, but they aren’t the only ones. The lungs and the spleen are also essential in water metabolism.

To resolve edema, practitioners target this organ triad – kidneys, spleen, and lungs – with beneficial herbs. One effective combination is Gan Jiang, Wi Wei Zi and Xi Xin. 

What Causes Edema and How Do Chinese Herbs Help?

Edema can emerge anywhere in the body, and it can have many underlying causes. Organ damage, weak veins, allergic reactions, chronic diseases, and smoking are all risk factors for edema.

Regardless of the underlying disease factors, it is ultimately the kidneys, spleen or lungs that are affected, to the point where they can no longer facilitate efficient fluid metabolization.

When the spleen and lungs are functioning properly in Chinese medicine, the spleen is responsible for pulling the clear, healthy fluids out of food and distributing them to other parts of the body. The lungs are responsible for facilitating qi flow downwards (it “descends” the qi). If these organs are out of balance, it can cause the qi stagnation associated with edema.

Cold and phlegm are also factors. When cold builds up in either the lungs or spleen, it can cause the body to produce phlegm in response, which further interferes with qi flow.

The goal of treatment is to remove this cold and phlegm, and bring the lungs, kidneys and spleen back into balance.

Treating Edema with Gan Jiang, Wu Wei Zi and Xi Xin

Practitioners rely on a proven herbal formula to treat edema that includes Gan Jiang, Wu Wei Zi and Xi Xin. All three are warm herbs that are effective at dispelling cold.

Gan Jiang warms the lungs and the middle of the body while also removing dampness. Wu Wei Zi tonifies the kidneys and promotes better qi flow out of the lungs. Xi Xin also warms the lungs and thins out phlegm so the body can remove it more efficiently.

Together, these three herbs facilitate better function in the kidneys, lungs, and spleen, bringing them into balance, improving water metabolism and removing excess fluid contributing to edema.

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