Lymph nodes (also known as lymph glands), which are found throughout your body, are an important part of your immune system. They help the body recognize and fight germs and other foreign substances.
Common areas where lymph nodes are located include the neck, under the jaw and chin, behind the ears, on the back of the head, the armpits and the groin.
When the lymph nodes become swollen, it can cause a problem known as lymphadenopathy or lymphadenitis. A swollen lymph node can range from the size of a pea to an egg.
Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that something is wrong somewhere in your body. The most common cause is an infection, which includes an abscessed tooth, ear infection, common cold, measles, mononucleosis, tonsillitis, gingivitis, and skin infections.
Certain immune or autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and HIV, can also lead to swollen lymph nodes. At times, cancer and certain medications also cause this problem.
In addition to increasing in size, swollen lymph nodes may be tender and painful. Depending on the cause, symptoms may also include a runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough, swollen limb, night sweats and general weakness.
Treatment for lymphadenitis depends on the cause. In some cases, the swelling will reduce with time. You can also incorporate certain lifestyle changes and remedies to treat swollen lymph nodes.
However, if the swelling lasts or continues to enlarge for more than a couple of weeks, seek medical help.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for swollen lymph nodes.
1. Warm Compresses
A time-tested remedy to reduce swelling of the lymph glands is warm compresses. The hot temperature helps increase blood circulation, which in turn reduces swelling as well as pain.
- Dip a washcloth in hot water and wring out the excess water.
- Place this warm washcloth on the swollen lymph nodes for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily until the swelling is gone.
You can even wash the swollen area with warm water a few times daily.
Another effective remedy is massaging the lymph nodes. Massage stimulates the lymph nodes to help them function normally. This helps subside the swelling over a period of time. In addition, it will reduce the accumulation of impurities in the nodes.
- Using your fingers, gently massage the lymph nodes for about 5 minutes. Do this 2 or 3 times daily until the swelling is gone.
- You can also hire a professional to give you a lymph drainage massage.
3. Salt Water
A salt water gargle can be beneficial for reducing the swelling and inflammation in lymph nodes in the neck caused by infection in the throat.
- Mix ½ teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water.
- Gargle with this solution to get relief.
- Do this a couple of times daily for about a week.
Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling in the lymph nodes. This antibiotic food also helps cleanse the system, ease symptoms and promote healing.
- Eat 2 to 3 raw garlic cloves daily. Include garlic in your cooking as well.
- Massage the swollen area with garlic oil for a few minutes, 2 or 3 times daily.
- Alternatively, take a garlic supplement daily, after consulting your doctor.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another effective home remedy for swollen lymph nodes. It helps create an alkaline environment and maintain a healthy pH level in your body.
In addition, its antibacterial property helps fight any infection that may be causing this problem.
- Mix equal amounts of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water. Soak a washcloth in the solution and apply it on the swollen area. Wait 5 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water and then pat dry. Repeat a once or twice daily.
- Also, mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little raw honey in a glass of water. Drink it twice daily.
Honey is another natural remedy that helps treat enlarged lymph nodes. Its anti-inflammatory property helps ease pain and swelling. In addition, its antibacterial property helps fight the infection that is likely causing this problem.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw honey and some fresh lemon juice in a cup of water. Drink it twice daily for a week.
- Apply some raw honey on the swollen area, allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Do this 2 or 3 times daily until the swelling subsides.
7. Castor Oil
You can also use castor oil, which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, to reduce swelling in lymph glands.
It improves the flow of lymph throughout the body, speeding up the removal of toxins. This helps reduces the size of swollen lymph nodes. It even gives a boost to your immune system.
- Gently rub some cold-pressed castor oil on the swollen area for 5 minutes.
- Put a warm compress on the area for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat this remedy once or twice daily for a week.
This therapeutic herb is particularly effective in bringing down the swelling of enlarged lymph glands. It has anti–inflammatory as well as analgesic properties that help reduce swelling and pain. It can even fight infections and facilitate healing.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder with enough honey to make a paste. Apply it on the swollen area, wait 10 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Follow this remedy twice daily for about a week.
- Drink a glass of warm turmeric milk twice daily.
- Another option is to take turmeric supplements, after consulting a doctor.
Another frequently used herb to treat swollen lymph nodes is echinacea. It has powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps strengthen the lymph system as well as fight infection by purifying the blood and lymph nodes.
- Apply echinacea cream or ointment topically 2 or 3 times a day to reduce swelling.
- You can also drink 1 to 2 cups of echinacea tea daily for not more than 1 week.
- Alternatively, take echinacea supplements of 300 mg, twice daily for a week. Consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Note: Avoid taking this herb internally for more than 1 week. People suffering from autoimmune disorders may want to avoid this herb.
Herbalists recommend the use of cleavers (scientific name, Galium aparine), also known as goosegrass and stickyweed, for lymphadenitis.
This therapeutic herb stimulates the function of the lymphatic system to reinforce proper functioning. This helps reduce swelling.
- Add 2 teaspoons of this herb to a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain it. Drink this tea 2 or 3 times daily until you notice improvement.
- Alternatively, take 20 to 30 drops of cleavers tincture mixed with water daily.
Note: Before using this herb, consult your doctor.
- Get adequate rest to aid recovery.
- Take a warm bath or shower twice daily.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily.
- Avoid physical and mental stress.
- Try yoga, acupuncture, meditation and exercise to fight symptoms.
- Quit smoking as well as avoid secondhand smoke.
- Stop drinking as it may worsen your condition.
- Follow a healthy diet rich in vitamins C and E, iron, calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.