Toxemia, preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension is high blood pressure that seven out of 100 pregnant women develop, for no clear reason. Teenagers, women over 40, those who are overweight or who have hypertension or diabetes are at higher risk of developing toxemia, and it's more common in first pregnancies. It can appear suddenly, without warning, any time throughout pregnancy, labour, or even early postpartum. It's diagnosed by high blood pressure, the presence of protein in the urine, and bloating of the hands, feet, and face.

Toxemia is a serious condition that can be chronic through an entire pregnancy, or may respond to treatment and disappear as quickly as it developed. It's dangerous for both mom and baby, for it can cause damage to the mother's kidneys, brain, eyes, and liver, as well as internal bleeding. A baby born to a mother with toxemia could be small, premature, or even stillborn, because toxemia constricts the mother's arteries, decreasing blood flow to the placenta. If the blood pressure rises really high, it can cause seizures which could be fatal to mother and baby. (At the seizure stage, toxemia or preeclampsia becomes eclampsia.) Mild toxemia may respond to medication, but more severe cases must be treated in addition with complete bed rest and a low-salt, high-protein diet. Naturopaths suggest that tisanes of dandelion and alfalfa can help combat toxemia, but don't expect your doctor to approve. Women with toxemia may have to have a caesarean section to deliver their babies before the condition becomes acute.

Toxemia occurs in animals too, as breeders know well.

Toxemia also appears to be a more general disease condition that holistic health practitioners believe is caused by the presence of bacterial toxins in the blood. There's much less information on this kind of toxemia. From what I can gather, holistic practitioners hypothesize that cells in the body naturally produce toxic by-products which accumulate in some people, causing enervation and illness. Some say that toxemia contributes to, or causes, many chronic and degenerative conditions like acne, headaches, sciatica, allergy, cardiac irregularities, halitosis, body odour, gas, bloating, eczema and rashes, arthritis, low back pain, asthma, chronic fatigue, lowered immunity, and many other conditions. Thus the body must be cleansed of the accumulated toxins before it can become well. Though mainstream medicine has little time for this theory, it is mentioned in, though in rather lofty, abstruse terminology. Note too that mainstream medicine can often not explain why certain individuals get many of these conditions, so there may be something to this alterno toxemia business.

Good general information on preeclampsia can be found at

For information on treating it with herbal alternatives, see

As for that other toxemia, the shadowy alternative one, see (this one's pretty wacky)

Tox*"emi*a (?), a. [NL.,fr.Gr. poison + blood.] Med.

Blood poisoning. See under Blood.


© Webster 1913.

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