Using Healing Herbs for Water Retention

Using Healing Herbs for Water Retention
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Water retention, or edema, is essentially a build-up of fluids in the body created by a fluid imbalance. Water can accumulate in tissue in the spaces between cells. It is not caused by drinking too much water, in fact not drinking enough water can be a cause. By recognizing possible causes and looking for natural ways to re-create balance such as the use of herbs for water retention, it is possible to control edema in most cases.

Why Is Water Retained?

Fluid retention happens when there is an imbalance causing the body to retain more water than what is necessary. Common reasons for the retention of water include:

  • Consumption of too much salt
  • Kidney or bladder infections
  • Heart problems
  • Dehydration from medication, alcohol, or simply a lack of fluids
  • Poor circulation
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal changes due to the menstrual cycle
  • A build-up of toxins in the body
  • A deficiency of protein or the B vitamins
  • Constipation

Making simple changes such as cutting out table salt and processed foods, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and drinking plenty of water should be the first steps to addressing this condition. Chronic swelling may be a sign of kidney, liver, bladder, or circulatory system problems. While healing herbs for edema can still help, be sure to see a doctor if experiencing long-term water retention.

Helpful Herbs

The following herbs can be used in cases of water retention:

  • Dandelion

  • Bearberry

    dandelion herb for edema

  • Yarrow

  • Cleavers

  • Parsley

  • Boneset

All of these herbs are diuretics, meaning they increase the flow of urine. In this way they help to remove toxins from the body and eliminate accumulated fluids. As nutrients can also be lost through urination it is essential to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables as well. The loss of water also needs to be counterbalanced with drinking plenty of water. One benefit of these herbs is that they themselves also supply the body with vitamins and minerals. Dandelion leaves in particular are very nutritious.

Other herbs that can be useful include:

  • Burdock root, to help purify the body of toxins and balance hormones
  • Corn silk has diuretic properties but it is also soothing if there is any irritation of the urinary tract
  • Alfalfa is rich in nutrients and helps to detoxify the body

How to Use

To treat edema with herbs simply make an herbal infusion. Steep one to two teaspoons of the dried herb in one cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Drink your healing herbal tea of choice (choosing one or more of the herbs listed) one to three times daily.

While using herbs for water retention is a safe, natural, effective way to release excess fluid and return to a state of balance, be wary of the underlying causes. Making proper changes to your diet, getting moderate exercise, and taking herbs should relieve the problem within about ten days. If edema persists, see a doctor to check for heart or kidney problems.


Balch, Phyllis, CNC. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition.” (The Penguin Group, 2006).

Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).

Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).

Water Retention

photo by: Bradley Gee (CC/flickr)

photo by: Brandi (CC/flickr)


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