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Water or fluid retention happens due to the body’s inability to balance fluid levels. Many health issues, mainly kidney and heart disorders, for example, may force the body to retain fluid, leading to edema or water retention. Its main symptoms include swelling and discomfort.
The systems responsible for the maintenance of fluid levels include the circulatory system, excretory system, lymphatic system, and endocrine system. If an issue occurs with any of these systems, water retention or edema can happen.
Various herbs and at-home care strategies may aid in the excretion of water. Substances that enable the removal of water are known as diuretics. They help resolve sodium and water retention. (1)
Moreover, some home remedies may deliver comfort from edema and facilitate recovery.
Home Remedies for Water Retention
Here are some home remedies to tackle water retention (edema).
1. Drink dandelion tea
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has been vastly utilized as a diuretic in time-honored folk therapy and in contemporary phytotherapy (herbal medicine) in regions of Europe, Asia, and America.
A study was done where a high-quality fresh leaf extract of dandelion was consumed by the study participants. The researchers observed a substantial rise in the frequency of urination in the 5-hour time span after the first dose. There was also a considerable boost in the excretion ratio in the 5-hour period after the second dose.
How to use dandelion for water retention:
- Boil 1 tsp of dried dandelion in a cup of water for approximately 10 minutes. Strain and consume this dandelion tea at least thrice every day.
- You can also consume dandelion supplements after speaking with your doctor.
Caution: Dandelion may cause heartburn, increased stomach acid, and skin irritation in some individuals. Those with kidney issues, gallbladder problems, or gallstones should seek medical advice before consuming dandelion.
2. Consume parsley tea
Parsley has been employed in folk therapy as a treatment for various diseases. It has been identified to have stomachic and carminative activities. Recently, it has also earned prestige as a strong diuretic.
Studies have demonstrated that parsley extract improved enormously the volume of urine excreted every day in animal models. Likewise, the fraction of water intake excreted as urine was substantially more with parsley extract in comparison to the control group.
Moreover, animals (rats) that were given an aqueous parsley seed extract to drink excreted a vastly higher volume of urine in a day in relation to when they were only drinking plain water.
These conclusions were supported by the outcomes of other investigations that used the kidney perfusion technique with parsley seed extract, which also indicated a notable growth in urine flow rate.
Researchers, after such studies, have confirmed the diuretic activity of parsley, which can be helpful in the management of water retention. (3)
How to use parsley for water retention:
- Add 2 tsp of dried parsley leaves to a cup of water.
- Boil the mixture and allow it to steep for around 10 minutes.
- Drink this parsley tea thrice a day.
Caution: Although parsley is generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts, consuming excessive quantities can be harmful and may result in adverse effects such as anemia and liver or kidney problems.
3. Drink fennel tea
A category of clinical medications utilized to reduce blood pressure is known as diuretics, which perform this action by boosting the elimination of urine from the body as well as increasing the quantity of sodium in the urine.
A substantial number of investigations demonstrate the diuretic effects of traditional medicines. For instance, a study was done to review the available research and identify which extracts promote diuresis. The study concluded that a number of plant species show diuretic effects.
Out of all of them, the most favorable, at the current time, includes the species Foeniculum vulgare, or fennel. This hinted at the potential usefulness of fennel in managing edema or water retention. (4)
How to use fennel for water retention:
- Add 1 tsp of fennel seeds to a cup of water.
- Boil this mixture and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain it and drink it thrice a day.
4. Perform Epsom salt baths
An Epsom salt bath works like an analgesic (pain relieving) for your body. It alleviates pain and swelling.
Epsom salt is generally available in a pharmaceutical form, which is pretty affordable and very useful in lessening edema or water retention.
This cost-efficient control for edema is often used and advised by professionals too.
A study was performed to establish the efficacy of Epsom salt water on foot edema in antenatal mothers. After delivering this intervention, the grade of foot edema greatly decreased.
How to perform an Epsom salt bath:
- Add 1 tbsp of Epsom salt and an equivalent quantity of ordinary salt to a small quantity of boiled water. Use this water as a hot foot bath for roughly 20 minutes. This will help alleviate edema and relieve joint pain and aches.
- You can also fill a tub with hot water, add Epsom salts, and dip right in. This will alleviate the pain associated with edema.
5. Implement dietary interventions
Implementing the following dietary interventions can help manage and prevent water retention.
a. Increase potassium intake
For over 200 years, potassium salts have been utilized as diuretics in clinical practice. Studies have shown that potassium chloride can be given safely via the oral route in fairly big doses for an acceptable digress action.
Similar results have been obtained from studies performed with potassium citrate, bicarbonate, and chloride.
Researchers have pointed out the significance of providing a diet in which the sodium content was low and potassium was somewhat high for the management of edema.
Furthermore, the use of high-potassium diets has caused a reduction in blood pressure in animal models of hypertension because of potassium’s diuretic activity, which is also essential for reducing extracellular fluid volume in edema. (7)(8)
Foods rich in potassium include:
b. Control your caffeine intake
The diuretic activity of caffeine is well established. It is linked to the upkeep of the water–salt balance in the kidney.
Caffeine increases the rate of kidney filtration and inhibits sodium salt reabsorption, causing an increase in urine production. This diuretic effect of caffeine can be useful in managing edema.
In conclusion, caffeine can facilitate the frequency of urination and help deal with water retention. (9)
Note: Professionals advise that caffeine should still only be consumed to a limit as an excess of caffeine can lead to the opposite effects.
c. Limit dietary salt intake
There is a positive correlation between daily salt intake and edema.
Research found that excessive salt intake was associated with leg edema in the elderly. The findings, therefore, suggest that reducing salt intake can be an effective treatment for edema or fluid retention. (10)
d. Increase vitamin B6 intake
Researchers suggest that having inadequate levels of vitamin B6 may lower dopamine levels in the kidneys. This may lead to increased excretion of sodium, which in turn could result in water retention and the development of symptoms such as swelling in the extremities and edema. (11)
Therefore, consuming enough vitamin B6 via diet with foods rich in it, such as peanuts, fish, soya beans, oats, chicken, and bananas, may help reduce these symptoms.
6. Wear compression garments
Compression hosiery or garments are generally employed for managing edema.
However, it is more typically suggested for the lower limbs than for the upper limbs because the impact of compression hosiery on upper-limb edema is inadequately known and researched.
So, if you suffer from water retention, you can easily go to your local pharmacy or search online for compression garments to wear. For more advice, you can contact your healthcare professional to find the right compression garment for you. (12)
7. Keep your leg elevated
In a study of women with leg edema with ages ranging from 20 to 40 years, the impact of five different angles of leg elevation (30, 45, 60, or 90 degrees) was evaluated for the reduction of leg edema from prolonged durations of sitting or standing.
A positive association was established between relief from leg edema and increasing the angle of leg elevation. There was a substantial difference between leg elevation of 90 degrees and lying down with no elevation.
The degree of pain reduction with leg elevation was in the increasing order of 30 degrees, 45 degrees, 60 degrees, and 90 degrees.
Many volunteers shared side effects including numbness and throbbing pain in the legs and pain in the buttocks during the elevation to 90 degrees. They were more comfortable in the 30 degrees posture. (13) Thus, you can elevate your legs to at least 30 degrees according to your comfort level.
Preventive Tips Against Water Retention
Preventing the underlying cause is the only way to prevent edema.
- Chronic lung disease, which may cause edema, is primarily caused by smoking, so quit smoking.
- Coronary artery disease, another cause of edema, is often linked with excessive alcohol consumption, so limit your alcohol intake.
- To prevent leg swelling during long trips, it is recommended to stand up and walk around frequently, ideally once every hour. If standing is not possible, exercises can be done to move the blood back toward the heart. (14)
Most-Asked Questions About Water Retention (Edema)
Can drinking water worsen water retention?
Experts say that drinking sufficient water can support the fight against water retention.
Can edema be treated at home without going to the doctor?
It is advised that you talk with your physician rather than self-treat at home since edema can be an indication of serious medical ailments such as heart, kidney, or liver failure.
Is it edema when I have swelling throughout my body?
Fluid retention can be categorized into generalized and localized. Generalized edema refers to swelling throughout the body, and localized edema refers to swelling in only a particular part of the body.
Edema is not a severe ailment, but it can cause discomfort. The good news is that numerous simple home remedies can alleviate this problem. The primary way of preventing swelling is to take care of yourself by exercising and consuming a nourishing diet.
When conventional techniques have been attempted with no substantial results, it is time to call a doctor that can identify the underlying cause of the swelling and provide proper treatment.