Gateway Health News

Oedema – General (Water retention)

Oedema – General
(Water retention)


The hormone aldosterone is often implicated in the water retention, which is especially
common in chronic stress and in pre-menstrual syndrome. In fact it is estimated that
approximately 70% of women with PMS are aldosterone dominant and therefore
suffer with cyclic water retention. Aldosterone causes magnesium to be excreted from
the body. A high level of magnesium is associated with a lower level of aldosterone.
Increasing magnesium intake may therefore be helpful in reducing the effects of
aldosterone excess. In studies magnesium has been shown to reduce premenstrual
breast pain and weight gain resulting from water retention.

Dandelion root

Dandelion has been shown to have a diuretic action. Aldosterone excess causes the
elimination of potassium in the urine - making fatigue and muscle cramps more likely.
Fortunately dandelion's rich content of minerals includes potassium at a concentration
higher than that found in bananas; however the level of potassium in a typical dosage
of dandelion would still make it prudent to consume other potassium sources to avoid
deficiency. Dandelion is not an aldosterone antagonist, in other words it will not
reduce aldosterone levels in the body, but it may be of value in helping with water
retention in the short-term.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
Due to its effect on the kidneys, horsetail (vegetal silica) has been found to significantly
increase urinary flow, and as such is a popular treatment for both general fluid
retention and local oedema.

Vitamin C and Pantothenic Acid
Aldosterone is a hormone that causes the kidneys to retain water and is found to be
elevated in chronic stress and some cases of PMS. Research suggests a role for both
pantothenic acid and vitamin c in supporting the adrenal cortex, the area from which
the mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone are secreted. Support for the adrenal cortex
is important in normalizing adrenal function and reducing aldosterone production,
factors that may help to reduce oedema.

This long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid has been shown to have an aldosterone
reducing effect. In one study a 33% reduction in aldosterone levels was noted when
compared with control subjects given corn oil. In fact studies into DHA have recorded
reductions of blood pressure of around 6mmHg systolic and 5mmHg diastolic in
hypertensive subjects, which has been attributed to its anti-aldosterone effect.

Oedema Summary

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
Magnesium1 200 – 600mg per day
Dandelion root extract (4:1)2 500 – 1500mg per day
Horsetail3 500 – 1500mg per day
Vitamin C4 500 – 3000mg per day
Pantothenic acid 50 – 500mg per day
DHA 100 – 300mg per day

Refined carbohydrates
Trans fats/fried foods

Vegetarian proteins
Raw vegetables/salads
Nuts and seeds
Whole grains

Lifestyle Factors
Identify potential allergens. Those following an elimination diet often report a reduction in
water retention.
Take regular exercise
Stop smoking
Consider underlying issues such as stress and PMS

1. High doses may cause loose stools. Those taking heart medication should use magnesium under
supervision from a Doctor.
2. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. May potentiate the effects of blood pressure
medication, diuretics and anti-diabetic medication. Concurrent use under medical supervision
3. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation. May increase the effect of diuretic medication.
4. High doses may cause loose stools.