Fluid Retention

The body retains fluid for many reasons. Heart disease, hormonal changes, liver and kidney problems, a poor diet and long-term use of steroid drugs may all be implicated. Simply wearing tight clothing can cause swelling, most commonly around the ankles. Regular exercise helps counteract fluid retention.

Dietary advice

Salt retains fluid in the body, so minimize the amount of added salt in your diet. As most of the salt we consume is hidden in processed foods, this means choosing a fresh, varied wholefood diet instead of canned, packaged or frozen foods. Drinking lots of bottled or filtered water stimulates the kidneys to flush out excess salt. Certain foods are also beneficial. Those rich in potassium, such as fresh and dried fruit and vegetables – particularly bananas, apricots, grapes, leeks, cabbage, potatoes and avocados – unsalted nuts, brown rice and garlic, help counteract the effects of salt. Diuretic foods such as celery and parsley also help eliminate excess fluid.


Take at least 3 baths a week and give yourself a daily massage using 4 drops geranium, juniper berry, lavender, or lemon essential oil to 10 ml grapeseed or sweet almond oil. Or try a blend of 3 drops juniper berry, 2 drops lavender and 3 drops geranium added to 20ml carrier oil.

Massage in using brisk strokes upwards towards your heart. For best results use a bristle brush (available from health stores), and dry brush your body with long, smooth strokes towards, the heart, before your massage.


If your fluid retention is linked to PMS, start the treatment 7-10 days before the onset of your period.

For swollen ankles massage gently over the puffy area, but use firm upward strokes above and below it to improve the circulation and lymphatic drainage. Then relax, with your feet raised above the height of your head, for 10-15 minutes. Dandelion stimulates the kidneys and is rich in potassium, making it excellent for fluid retention. Make a tea, using 2 tsp dried root to a cup of boiling water and letting it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink a cupful 3 times a day.