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Water Retention

Water Retention


Water retention is mostly commonly a complaint of women during the pre-menstrual phase of their cycle. They may take over-the-counter diuretics but know that the problem will end with menses. They tend to feel bloated and may have difficulty finding shoes and clothes (including jewelry) which fits comfortably during this phase.

A more serious form, which may also be alleviated by diuretics, accompanies organ dysfunction or failure e.g. congestive heart failure and / or kidney failure.

It is considered unsatisfactory to estimate water retention from body weight changes. Devices, using electrodes, are now commonly used to gauge this much more accurately by measuring electrical impedance.

In old books, the term: "dropsy", may have been used. This applied to generalized edema.


Some 60 % of the body is made up of water (by weight). This proportion can increase to 75 % before there is any noticeable change. Owing to gravity, swelling usually shows up first at the feet and ankles.

In severe cases, fluids will accumulate in a body cavity:

Ascitesin the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen;
Congestive heart failurethe left side of the heart may fail to empty completely and/or ...
blood backs-up in the venous system, including swollen neck veins, with ...
enlargement of the liver and generalized edema;
Pulmonary edemain the air sacs of the lungs;

Signs & Symptoms

The patient may feel a ring tighten on a finger and know that PMS is at hand! This change is too subtle to be visible to others.

Only in severe cases, usually accompanied by shortness of breath and fatigue, will congestive heart failure, or pulmonary edema be suspected.

Sodium may have a role to play, although a sodium-free diet will not immediately reverse these symptoms. It is probably a sensible modification to make together with diuretics. Diuretics, essentially, reduce the amount of sodium and water returned to the blood, which is then excreted in the urine.

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function:
        Single Nutrients
        Cardiovascular Support &
        Weight Management

General Supplements

Vitamin B6100 mg
Vitamin C3,000 - 6,000 mg

*Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.

Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

Avoiding salt (in or on) foods, especially snacks, is a standard tactic. Fresh vegetable juices form an exception in marked contrast to processed versions.

Electrolyte drinks can help balance these minerals. Salads which are rich in potassium and low in salt are a staple food choice.

Homeopathic Remedy

Apis Mellifica

Treatment Schedule

Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies may be single strength (of fairly weak potency e.g. 6X ) or a blend of several weaker strengths (6X, 8X, 10X).

This may comprise a single remedy, or several remedies.

Doses are administered on a 3 times daily (tid), between meals,schedule and continued for 3 days.

Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose.

Solid preparations are usually 2 or 3 pellets per dose.

Children use 1/2 dose i.e. 1 pellet.

If there is aggravation of the symptoms, stop taking the remedy and consult a homeopath.


Murphy, R. : Homeopathic Medical Repertory. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1993.

Murphy, R. : Lotus Materia Medica. Hahneman Academy, Pagosa Springs, Colorado. 1995.

Pert, J.C.: Homeopathy for the Family. The Homoeopathic Development Foundation, London. 1985 edition.

Herbal Approaches



A more extensive list has been compiled by Newall (1996):

Agrimony, Artichoke, Boldo, Broom, Buchu, Burdock, Celery, Couchgrass, Dandelion, Elder, Guaiacum, Juniper, Pokeroot, Shepherd's Purse, Squill, Uva Ursi and Yarrow.

Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.


Hoffmann, D: The New Holistic Herbal. Element, 1983. Third edition 1990.

Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Camphor Essence,Cardamom Essence,
Chamomile Essence,Cypress Essence,
Eucalyptus Essence,Juniper Essence,
Lavender Essence,Lemon Essence,
Petitgrain Essence,Rosemary Essence,
Wintergreen Essence.

Related Health Conditions

Premenstrual Syndrome



Gonzalez, J et al: Bioelectric impedance detects fluid retention in patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1995 Jul;110(1):111-8.

Goodwin PJ et al.: Breast health and associated premenstrual symptoms in women with severe cyclic mastopathy. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 1997 May, 176:5, 998-1005.

Guazzi, MD et al: Apparent paradox of neurohumoral axis inhibition after body fluid volume depletion in patients with chronic congestive heart failure and water retention . Br Heart J 1994 Dec;72(6):534-9.

Lusseveld, EM et al: Multifrequency bioelectrical impedance as a measure of differences in body water distribution. Ann Nutr Metab 1993;37(1):44-51

Martin PY & Schrier RW: Sodium and water retention in heart failure: pathogenesis and treatment. Kidney Int Suppl, 1997 Jun, 59:, S57-61.

Martin PY & Schrier RW: Pathogenesis of water and sodium retention in cirrhosis. Kidney Int Suppl, 1997 Jun, 59:, S43-9.

Olson, BR et al: Relation between sodium balance and menstrual cycle symptoms in normal women. Ann Intern Med 1996 Oct 1;125(7):564-7.

Penland-JG & Johnson-PE: Dietary calcium and manganese effects on menstrual cycle symptoms [see comments] Am-J-Obstet-Gynecol. 1993 May; 168(5): 1417-23.

Sergi, G et al: Accuracy of bioelectrical impedance analysis in estimation of extracellular space in healthy subjects and in fluid retention states. Ann Nutr Metab 1994;38(3):158-65.

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