Water retention has become a rather common problem in modern times, thanks to our lifestyle and wrong food habits! It’s better to be alert before it’s too late and take steps to prevent water retention that may prove fatal in the course of time. And if you already suffer from water retention, you should not only take self help to flush out excess fluid out of your body but also seek medical assistance to rule out any serious pathological condition. It could be anything ranging from heart, kidney, liver, lungs, or thyroid disorders. If your medical tests are negative then you should understand that your body water retention may be due to some generalized causes including excessive salt and alcohol intake or hormonal imbalances or even some wrongful lifestyle habits! Here are some simple but effective home remedies for water retention that can help you get rid of edema, the medical term for fluid retention in the body.
Home Remedies for Water Retention
1. Drink Plenty of Water to Eliminate Water Retention
Logically it seems to contradict the idea. If you already have excessive water in your body, why should you drink more water? There are at least two reasons for this.
Why drink more water to counter water retention?
- When your body gets dehydrated due to lack of water, it starts reserving whatever water is available so that it can reuse it later. If you thought, cutting back on water will make you look slim, you were wrong. You will, instead, suffer from bloating and your body will swell due to water retention.
- Water aids your liver in converting fat into energy which you can use. But when you don’t drink enough water, your kidney cannot eliminate concentrated fluid and takes help from the liver which becomes overworked. The liver doesn’t then do its primary work of converting your body fat into energy. It holds onto the extra fat that it would have burned off if enough water was supplied it and to a kidney. Thus, water retention also makes you bloated and fat.
Tips for drinking more water for the elimination of water retention
- Drink water whenever you feel thirsty. Don’t postpone this for other works. Always keep water in your reach. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of filtered water every day whether you are thirsty or not. Sometimes, we do not recognize the thirst signal and mistake it for hunger.
- Watch your urine. If it is yellow and thick or you do not urinate much during the day, your body is in need of water. Your urine should be clear.
- If you feel weakness, dizziness, cramping, headaches and dry mouth without any explainable reason, it might be dehydration. Drink water.
However, if you have liver problems, you should talk to your doctor before increasing the intake of water. Consumption of large amounts of water to treat fluid retention may aggravate chronic liver problems.
2. Reduce Salt Intake to Treat Water Retention
Salt is a major cause for retention of water in your body. When you eat foods high in salt, you may feel puffy and bloated. Here is the reason why salt leads to bloating and water retention.
How salt retains water in a body?
High salt intake leads to retention of sodium and thereby water in your body. This expands extracellular volume in the body. Said simply, when you eat salt, your body tries to dilute it by holding water around your cells and in this process supplies more water to your bloodstream. This not only increases water weight in your body but also leads to other complications. As your heart has to deal with extra fluid in the blood vessels, it may increase your blood pressure which in turn may increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Also, when you eat more salt, your body flushes out more calcium through urine which may lead to osteoporosis and reduced bone density. So, it is wise to lower the intake of salt not only to cure water retention but also to keep other health complications at bay.
Tips to reduce salt intake for an elimination of water retention
- Cook food at home most of the time. Hotels and restaurants are loaded with sodium.
- Use lesser amount of salt while cooking food at home.
- Remove salt shaker from your dining table. Don’t add salt while eating food. Instead, you may use other herbs and spices for flavor.
- Avoid canned foods including canned veggies, soups, sauces etc. as they use more salt as preservatives and also to make the foods flavorful.
- Avoid having processed foods like potato chips, salted peanuts as well as junk foods.
- Women should especially reduce taking salt prior to their menstrual cycle every month. Hormonal change during this period leads to greater water retention in the body of a woman.
In a normal situation, the recommended level of salt in the diet is a maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. People with heart disease and high blood pressure should have less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. However, when you need to eliminate water retention, you need to reduce your salt even less than these recommended levels.
Suggestion: Sugar too indirectly helps in water retention. It increases general insulin level in your body, which in turn decreases your body’s ability to flush off sodium or salt. Therefore, sugar intake should also be reduced along with salt consumption.
3. Eliminate Water Retention Naturally with Diuretic Foods
Diuretic foods help your body release more urine. When you urinate frequently, your body not only releases extra water but also flush off the toxins and lower your blood pressure by resuming water-sodium balance. While there are over-the-counter diuretic pills available in the market but they have short-term effect. You start retaining water as soon as you stop taking them. On the other hand, natural foods with diuretic properties have a lasting effect, maybe because you don’t need to stop having them. You can always have one or the other diuretic foods on daily basis. However, if you are already on diuretic or anti-diuretic medication, consult your doctor before including diuretic food in your diet.
List of diuretic foods to help eliminate water retention
- Leafy greens
- Juniper Berries
- Brussels Sprouts
However, urinating often means your body also releases potassium along with water and toxins. So, you need to have foods rich in potassium to maintain your potassium levels.
4. Potassium Rich Foods for Eliminating Water Retention
Lack of potassium is also one of the causes for water retention in the body. It is an important mineral which is needed for proper functioning of body cells, tissues and organs. Potassium is an electrolyte which along with sodium maintains normal water balance in the body. Potassium also helps stimulate the kidneys so that they may flush off waste along with excessive salt out of the body. Potassium deficiency may lead to water retention causing edema, swelling, and weight gain. So have foods rich in potassium too. Most of the fruits are rich in potassium as also certain vegetables.
List of potassium-rich fruits and other foods for water retention
- Fresh Mushrooms
- Bell Peppers
- Sunflower seeds
5. Garlic Remedy for Water Retention
Garlic is one herb that we use extensively in our cooking and that’s good. Garlic along with all its medicinal values is also an excellent diuretic. It releases water as well as toxin out of your body. Not only this, garlic also breaks down body fat thus helping you lose weight. If you don’t use garlic in your dishes, start adding it as a cure for your water retention.
Ways to include garlic in your diet for water retention
- Chew a couple of raw garlic cloves in the morning.
- Use raw garlic paste in your bread spreads.
- Use garlic in your soups, broths, gravies and stir-fries.
6. Eat Yogurt to Eliminate Water Retention
Yogurt is an excellent source of protein. Lack of protein in your blood can lead to water retention. Protein aids in holding salt and water inside your blood vessels so that fluid does not leak out into your tissues. When the blood protein, albumin, becomes too low, fluid retention happens and you suffer from edema, particularly in your feet, ankles and lower legs. Most of the times, protein level goes down in the blood due to malnutrition, kidney and liver disease. Yogurt gives you a healthy boost of protein. It is also high in potassium. While all types of yogurts are rich in protein, Greek yogurt has most of it to keep your albumin protein levels up. Greek yogurt is nothing but yogurt which is strained using cloth or paper bag and which attains a consistency between that of yogurt and cheese. Other foods high in protein include milk, cottage cheese, egg white, fish, tofu etc.
Warning: If you are on dialysis and take low protein diet for your kidneys, consult your doctor before adding yogurt or any other protein rich food in your meals.
7. Dandelion Leaves Tea for Eliminating Water Retention
Dandelion herb has been used traditionally for its medicinal values particularly for liver and kidney disorders as well as heartburn and other digestive problems. Dandelion herb also acts as a natural diuretic and facilitate the kidneys to increase the volume of urine which flushes out the extra salt out of your body. Dandelion is also high on calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and potassium, making it further useful in treating fluid retention. Use fresh or dried dandelion leaves to make tea for eliminating water retention.
Make dandelion leaves tea for water retention
- Dandelion leaves (fresh or dried)- 1 tsp
- Hot water- 1 cup
- Place dandelion leaves in a pot.
- Pour hot water over them.
- Cover and let steep for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain and drink this herbal tea.
- Have dandelion tea twice or thrice a day.
Precaution: Dandelion herb is generally considered safe. However, some people may be allergic to the weed and sometimes the herb may lead to mild gastric trouble. As dandelion may interact with certain medications like diuretics, diabetes drugs and lithium, consult with your doctor before including dandelion tea as a remedy for water retention.
8. Parsley Remedies for Water Retention
The humble parsley is a scientifically proven diuretic apart from its traditional authority in folk medicine. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology has confirmed the diuretic effects of parsley way back in 2002. Parsley is high on antioxidants, calcium, iron, and B complex vitamins. It inhibits the re-absorption of sodium and potassium which causes more water to flow through osmosis. This increases the volume of urine. Due to its excellent diuretic properties, parsley has been used to treat kidney stones, urinary tract infection and edema or the swelling due to water retention.
1st way of using parsley for water retention: Fresh Parsley Tea
- Fresh parsley leaves- a large handful of them
- Boiled water- 1 liter
- Add fresh parsley to boiled water.
- Cover and steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain and have a cup of this tea.
- Have the remaining tea through out the day. You can have 4-5 cups of parsley tea in a day and even a cup of it every couple of hours.
2nd way of using parsley for water retention: Dried Parsley Tea
• Dried parsley- 2 tsp (or 1 teabag)
• Boiling water- 1 cup
• Pour boiling water over dried parsley or teabag.
• Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
• Strain and have it.
• Drink 4-5 cups of parsley tea every day.
3rd way of using parsley for water retention: Ayurvedic Paste
This is an Ayurvedic remedy for water retention where a paste of parsley leaves is applied on the swollen body parts. If you have localized water retention and your joints, ankles, wrists, hands, or legs etc. have bloated, you may use this remedy.
- Parsley leaves- enough to make a paste for your swollen body part
- Crush the parsley leaves to get a paste.
- Apply this paste to your bloated body parts.
- Leave for about half an hour.
- Wash off with water.
- Do this twice a day.
9. Mixed Herbs Tea to Eliminate Water Retention
There are many herbs that have excellent diuretic properties and that may help you out with your fluid retention. However, it is not possible to have all of them at once. Herbalist Jeanne Rose has thus given a very effective herbal tea recipe which uses small quantities of such herb that have diuretic and detoxifying properties. Make this tea for your bloating problem.
- Parsley- 1 bunch
- Blackberry leaf (chopped)- 1
- Dandelion leaf (chopped)- 1
- Cherry stems- 10
- Celery tops- ½ tsp
- Couch grass- ½ tsp
- Corn silk- ½ tsp
- Fennel seeds- ½ tsp
- Boiling water- 1 liter
If using dried herbs, take 3 parts of parsley and 1 part each of the other herbs.
- Place all the herbs in a large pot.
- Pour boiling water over the mixed herbs.
- Cover and steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain and have the tea throughout the day at least for one day.
10. Corn Silk Tea for Eliminating Water Retention
The threadlike strands protruding from the end of the ear of a corn called ‘cornsilk’ has been used traditionally as a medicinal herb. It has been used by herbalists for kidney disorders, urinary infections, uric acid and for edema to eliminate fluid retention. Corn silk is an effective natural diuretic which reduces fluid accumulation in the body. It eliminates toxins and wastes to give relief not only from water retention but also from gout and arthritis. It is high on antioxidants flavonoids and polyphenols as well as Vitamin K which helps blood purification and cleansing.
Make corn silk tea for water retention
- Fresh corn silk – ¼ cup OR Dried corn silk – 2tsp
- Boiling water- 1 cup
- Place fresh or dried corn silk in a tea pot.
- Pour boiling water over it.
- Cover and steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain and drink this naturally lightly sweetened tea twice a day.
Precaution: Although the American Herbal Products Association has rated corn silk as a safe substance to consume, it may interact with certain prescription medications like blood thinners. Check with your physician before having corn silk tea for water retention problem.
11. Barley Remedies for Elimination of Water Retention
Barley water has been traditionally used in some countries of Europe for fluid retention. Ayurveda, the Indian medicine to recommends barley for edema. It is comparatively a healthy drink having mild diuretic properties. It is also safe for pregnant women who suffer from swollen legs due to hormonal and blood chemistry changes during pregnancy.
1st way to use barley for water retention: Barley Water
- Wholegrain barley (with peel)- ¼ cup
- Water- 5-6 cups
- Lemon juice or orange juice (optional)- 2-4 tsp
- Wash the barley properly and add it to the water.
- Boil this water for 15-20 minutes.
- Strain and add lemon or orange juice if using.
2nd way to use barley for water retention: Soaked Barley Water
- Barley- 3 tbsp
- Water- 1 glass
- Add barley to water.
- Leave it to soak overnight
- Strain and drink the water in morning.
- Again soak barley in water and have it in the evening.
- Drink 2 glasses of soaked barley water everyday.
12. Coriander Seeds Remedy for Water Retention
Coriander seeds are diuretic in nature and can help prevent as well as eliminate water retention. It is also rich in potassium further making it beneficial for fluid retention. The other components of coriander seeds include Vitamins-A, C, and K, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium and small quantities of niacin, vitamin-b6, phosphorous and zinc. Ayurveda recommends coriander for fast elimination of water retention.
- Coriander seeds- 3 tbsp
- Water- 1 glass
- Add coriander seeds to water.
- Boil it till the time it remains half of its original quantity.
- Strain and let it cool down before drinking
- Repeat it once more. Drink this coriander seeds water twice a day.
13. Fennel Tea for Eliminating Water Retention
Fennel herb with its spicy aroma is native to the Mediterranean region but is cultivated throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Fennel seeds have in them anethole, the compound which gives it the anise flavor and is responsible for most of its medicinal values. Fennel tea had been used in traditional medicine as a cure for water retention due to its diuretic properties. A study published in the ‘Clinical and Experimental Hypertension’ in 2011 stated that fennel extract reduced systolic blood pressure which was the effect of an increased release of sodium and water from the kidneys. So, use fennel seeds to eliminate water retention in your body.
Make fennel tea for water retention
- Fennel seeds- ½ tsp
- Boiling water- 1 cup
- Place fennel seeds in a cup.
- Pour hot water over it.
- Cover and steep for 5-10 minutes.
- If you wish, you may drain otherwise drink the tea with seeds int it. Chew the seeds for better digestion.
- Have fennel tea 2-3 times a day.
14. Comfrey- Coltsfoot Poultice for Water Retention Swelling
Pregnant women suffering from swollen feet are in a very delicate condition. They cannot use many home remedies for water retention due to some of the other compounds in the ingredients that may affect them negatively. In such a situation, they may find comfort in a herbal poultice made with comfrey and coltsfoot herbs.
- Comfrey- 2- ½ tsp
- Coltsfoot- 2- ½ tsp
- Water- 5 cups
- A thick and soft cloth
- Bring water to a boil.
- Add comfrey and coltsfoot herbs to this hot water.
- Let it boil for another 5 minutes and then take it off heat.
- Let it stand for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the water using a sieve.
- Soak the thick soft cloth in this herbal water.
- Place the cloth on the swollen body part.
- Do this twice or thrice a day to get relief from swelling due to water retention.