There are many reasons that the body may retain excess fluids leading to bloating or swelling of the hands, feet, arms, face or other areas of the body. A high-sodium diet, too much MSG, thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, poor circulation and hormonal changes can all be contributing factors.
While it is important to see your doctor, since there may be a serious condition behind persistent water retention or edema, such as problems with the liver, kidneys or bladder, it is possible to achieve a normal fluid balance through natural means. Find out how to reduce water retention with diet, herbs and lifestyle changes.
What You Are Consuming or Not Consuming
When bloating is a problem or when there is some sort of swelling due to excess water, the first thing to address is diet. Eating less salt, processed foods and red meat is very important. A protein deficiency can actually cause a fluid imbalance. While protein consumption is important, simply opt for healthier sources such as eggs, tofu and broiled fish and chicken rather then beef and pork products.
eight glasses of water each day and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to increase water content. Good foods include cucumbers, salad greens and watermelon.
Potassium balances with sodium in the body to help maintain a healthy fluid balance. Be sure you are including potassium-rich foods in your diet such as bananas, papayas, dates, avocado, broccoli and seafood.
Which Herbs Can Promote Fluid Balance?
dandelion tea. Dandelion is a natural diuretic that supports the liver and kidneys and supplies important minerals such as potassium. Drink up to three cups of dandelion tea per day. Other helpful herbs which will increase urine output include horsetail, uva ursi and hawthorn berries.
If a hormone imbalance is behind the excess fluids, which can be the case if water retention is a symptom of PMS or of the use of oral contraceptives, it is also helpful to drink burdock root tea. Burdock acts to cleanse, flushing the lymph glands and balancing hormones.
While all of these herbs are very helpful it is important to talk to your doctor before using herbal medicine if you are taking any prescription medications, if pregnant, or if you have a medical condition.
Aside from diet and herbs, there are other things that you can do to reduce water retention. An important step is to exercise every day. Physical activity is important for good circulation and for promoting the metabolism of food and movement of waste.
Another helpful tip is to take a hot, sauna-like bath once or twice a week. This will also help to improve circulation but it will also serve to help the body release excess fluids through sweating. Add a cup of sea salts or epsom salts to your bath to increase sweating. Be sure to drink plenty of water and juices after both exercise and a sauna treatment.
When to See a Doctor
Water retention is uncomfortable and can be worrisome depending on where the swelling is occurring and how bad it is. If symptoms are persistent, especially after addressing your diet and getting exercise, be sure to see your doctor. Edema can be a sign not only of imbalance, but of a serious problem.
Balch, Phyllis A. " Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
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