Improving lymphatic drainage with herbal preparations: a potentially novel approach to management of lymphoedema.

Janelle Wheat, Geoffrey Currie, Hosen Kiat, Kerry Bone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Lymphoedema is a potentially debilitating condition with particularly high incidence among breast cancer patients following surgery. Horsechestnut complex has been used by herbalists to improve peripheral vascular circulation and lymphatic drainage. Nuclear medicine lymphoscintigraphy offers a tool to quantitate the effects of horsechestnut complex on lymphatic drainage rates. Methods: A prospective clinical trial in 15 'normal' volunteers was undertaken using a repeat measures design. Bilateral upper limb lymphoscintigraphy was performed on each volunteer at baseline and following a 3 month course of horsechestnut complex. Lymphatic drainage rates were evaluated quantitatively. Results: A significant increase was noted in the percentage of activity that migrated away from the injection site with respect to baseline versus follow-up series. The baseline mean of 6.63% varied significantly from the follow-up mean of 8.19% (p = 0.002) over a 2 hour sampling window. The matched pairs t test indicated a statistically significant difference (p = 0.017) with a mean increase in percentage migration of 1.56% after herbal treatment (95% CI 0.30% - 2.82%).Conclusion: Horsechestnut complex has the potential to accelerate lymphatic drainage in the normal population. A multi-centre randomised controlled trial is required to evaluate the clinical benefits of horsechestnut complex in managing lymphoedema in breast cancer survivors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-70
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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