Bloating can be painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. It’s no coincidence that people often compare being bloated to feeling like a water balloon: one of the most common reasons for this sensation is that your body is retaining too much water. In some cases, it’s enough to make your abdomen bigger and cause your weight to shoot up (1).
What is Water Retention?
Water retention is the result of excess fluids building up inside the circulatory system, in your tissues and within cavities throughout the body (2). It’s typically accompanied by painful joints, hypertension, and obesity.
There are several reasons why it can happen, most of which are temporary. Many women experience bloating while pregnant or before menstruation, and bloating can often occur in situations in which a person is bedridden, or sitting down for long periods of time.
However, in some circumstances, bloating can be a sign of a more dangerous problem such as kidney disease or heart failure.
Other causes include environmental factors (such as hot weather, high altitudes), thyroid malfunction, poor circulation, liver disorder, cardiovascular issues, allergies, dehydration, and stress.
Natural Edema Causes
Here are some additional reasons why you may be experiencing water retention.
1. Excessive Sodium Intake
Salt can throw off your electrolyte balance, causing edema. Your body aims to maintain a balance of sodium to water concentration outside of cell walls that are similar to seawater.
When that balance can’t be maintained, your body begins to hold on to water to maintain the proper ratio. Just a single gram of table salt can cause your body to retain nearly 4 cups of water (equal to about 2 pounds).
The condition can easily be stabilized by drinking more water to flush out the excess sodium (3).
2. Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency
3. Certain Medications
Many nonprescription and prescription medicines have compounds in them that can result in swelling and bloating. Medications such as vasodilators, calcium blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) estrogen medications, several chemotherapy drugs and some diabetes medications cause edema as a side effect.
Natural Edema Remedies
Edema is not considered a disease and therefore isn’t treated as one. However, edema is a warning sign of a larger problem within the body.
Conditions that can be stressful to the body such as lack of exercise, fluctuating hormones, allergies, and high blood pressure can all result in water retention and bloating.
For this reason, you should always consult a doctor or naturopath to find the source of your problem before attempting to treat it yourself (6).
How to Fix Water Retention
1. Dandelion Root
Dandelion tea is rising in popularity for its ability to beat the bloat. The tea has long been a staple in Chinese and Native American medicine due to its diuretic and liver-detoxifying properties.
Dandelion can interact with Blood-thinning medication, antacids or diabetes medication, so talk to your doctor before taking this tea (7).
2. Epsom Salt
After discussing how too much salt can be the cause of bloating, it may seem counterintuitive to use Epsom salt to reduce it. However, adding 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bath and soaking in it for 20 to 30 minutes can help drastically reduce bloating as well as repair muscle damage (8).
Epsom salt also contains magnesium, which makes its way into the bloodstream through the skin. This can help treat edema caused by a nutritional deficiency.
While the healing properties of Epsom Salt are powerful, it’s suggested to keep your salt baths to once a week instead of daily.
This herb holds very similar properties as dandelion tea, as it is also a powerful diuretic and detoxifier. Parsley also helps smooth over the digestive process and promotes faster waste elimination. It also protects the urinary tract, from infection and kidney stones (9).
To take, steep a few teaspoons of dried parsley in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.
4. Nettle Tea
This tea is a diuretic particularly known for reducing bloating during menstruation. The tea can be used to treat joint pain, ease sore muscles and manage hay fever symptoms (10).
5. Fennel Seeds
To use, add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of hot water, and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy up to three times a day.
6. Cranberry juice
100% pure cranberry juice is highly beneficial for the urinary tract.
Not only can it help prevent urinary tract infections, it can also increase urine output to relieve edema (12).
Just make sure not to buy cranberry cocktail or juice with added sugars.
8. Lemon Juice
Lemons and other citrus fruits improve the elimination of excess fluid and waste.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar regulates sodium levels in blood pressure levels in the body (15). Since sodium causes water retention, this kind of vinegar is a simple solution to help you lose the extra weight.
For best results, take a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water twice a day. You can also add ¼-1/2 a cup of vinegar to your bath water.
10. Essential oils
Some essential oils stimulate the lymphatic system to enhance fluid drainage (16).
Add 20 drops of oils such as juniper, geranium, or cypress to your bath water and soak for 10 minutes.
For optimal edema relief, increase your intake of high-fiber and high-water foods like cucumber and watermelon. Make sure to get plenty of water too, since dehydration can actually worsen your condition. You should also exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid sugar, salt, and alcohol.