Fluid Retention

fluid retentionFluid retention, or as it is known medically edema, is the result of a buildup of water in the body’s tissues which causes swelling and puffiness. There are many reasons why this can occur. Sometime the underlying cause can be more serious such as heart disease, while at other times this quite common could be the result of a sprain, jet lag, pregnancy, PMS or obesity.

The body consists of approximately 60% water and an average body has around 40 litres of water to be distributed. When the body is in a healthy state around 3 litres of this water is to be found in the blood; 25 litres of this water is to be found in the cells of the body with the final 12 litres found in the lymph that baths the cells.

There are three mechanisms that cause the water to move between the blood and the lymph:

  • The pressure of the pumping of the heart will cause water in the blood in the capillaries to pass across into the lymph when that pressure reaches the capillaries.
  • The level of protein present in the blood will cause the water to be drawn into the blood from the lymph.
  • Water will also be drawn out from the blood into the lymph by the level of salt present in the lymph.

When any of these mechanisms are out of balance the result is that the water levels in the body become unbalanced with an excess of water in the lymph causing swelling and puffiness. Should the capillaries become damaged as might be the case in surgery or an injury, they are unable to maintain the correct balance of water flow which results in the tissue swelling as the excess is unable to pass back into the blood.

Depending on the underlying cause of the fluid retention there are a number of things that one can consider doing. If fluid retention is due to a high salt diet, reducing salt in the diet may be helpful. Dietary herbs that have been suggested as being beneficial include fennel, celery, parsley, garlic and onions. And drinking fennel tea may be helpful.

Fluid retention, which occurs after standing or sitting for long period of time usually, rights itself when one is able to move naturally again. Keeping the legs raised when possible and gentle exercise is often very helpful. A lymphatic drainage massage is also often very beneficial.

Essential oils can prove very helpful in getting the balance back to normal. Added to a massage oil or cream, which is then used to gently massage the affected areas upwards towards the heart is one method of use. Add 12 drops of essential oil blend to 30 ml (1 oz.) of carrier oil.  Another method would be to add 3 – 8 drops of essential oil or essential oil blend into a bath or foot bath (if only the ankles are involved).  Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water so add an equal number of drops of emulsifier, or if you don’t have an emulsifier add an equal number of drops of liquid soap to disperse the essential oil droplets through the water.

There are a number of essential oils you could consider adding to your blend when dealing with fluid retention including:
Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis) – has diuretic properties
Lavender ( Lavendula angustifolia) — has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ) – has diuretic properties
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) – has diuretic properties
Cypress ( Cupressus sempervirens ) — has diuretic properties
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) — has diuretic properties
Carrot seed (Caucus carota) — has diuretic properties
Grapefruit (Citrus paradise) — has diuretic properties

Do make sure that you take into consideration any possible contraindications such as pregnancy with the oils used.

Blends for Fluid Retention

Blend 1 Blend 2 Blend 3 Blend 4
1 drop of Rosemary 3 drops of Juniper 2 drops of Juniper 3 drops of Grapefruit
3 drops of Geranium 1 drop of Lavender 2 drops of Cypress 2 drops of Geranium
2 drops of Fennel 2 drops of Grapefruit 2 drops of Fennel 1 drop of Carrot Seed

Back to the Article Archives Index for more articles like this.