Most people with excess fluids in their bodies don’t know it until it has reached a critical point of dragging you down and creating pressures. Excess fluid accumulates slowly just like excess fat, so it can often be difficult to tell the difference. Whereas fat can insulate you to keep warm in winter, fluid does not.
Sometimes the body just gets tired and the kidneys can be too tired to do their job. This often results in fluid accumulation in middle and low body. Swollen legs, a bulging belly are often the results of simple fluid accumulation over time. Sometimes the kidneys need help flushing out this fluid, but will also need to be toned up to get stronger.
Often fluids accumulate because of an imbalance from the over-ingestion of concentrated foods like proteins, fats and starches. Because the body is a contained unit with a finite amount of energy at any given time it must prioritize energy. Food becomes toxic to us quickly if not digested properly so it always gets priority over fluids which only become dangerous after chronic accumulations start putting pressure on organs like the heart.
We must also understand that fluids can accumulate in the body to dilute acid. If your food intake or other influences are keeping your body too acid, water storage allows the body to release fluids to dilute this acid as needed, just as it can release alkaline minerals to dilute that acid.
Changes in water metabolism by the use of diuretic herbs can require changes in what foods you take in. Reduce acid forming foods like starches, dairy, meats to minimal healthy levels and increase the alkaline forming fruits and vegetables. Practice vegetarian days in which no meats are taken. This will bring the blood pH closer to 7.0/neutral so that less fluids/minerals are allocated to trying to moderate the effects of acidification.
Drop the worst acidifiers, sodas, coffee, alcohol, sugar — or at least limit them strictly. Sodas, coffee and alcohol are acid-forming enough to contribute to bone erosion and osteoporosis.
Gravel RootUnlike what the name suggests this is not an herb to be used only when you have gravel or stones in the urinary system. It is an excellent constitutional herb for anyone whose urinary system has become tired so that much of the urination is happening after the body has gotten relaxed later in the day, even getting you up at night to go to the bathroom. It also is soothing to the nerves, tones the digestive system generally and is a good kidney tonic when taken in small amounts. In other words, in small amounts it is a tonic, but becomes a diuretic cleanser in larger amounts.
Dandelion – root or leafThis one brings great nutrition into the body while flushing out excess fluids. So it is great for maintenance and for keeping blood nutrition levels strong so they are not depleted by invigorated diuresis.
Parsley herb (aerial)
Similar to Dandelion.
Watermelon SeedsThis was a remedy recommended by Edgar Cayce for helping the kidneys flush excess fluids. Watermelon seeds are probably the safest booster of the kidney function of all these herbs. You can grind them up and take them as powder or make a tea (tisane) by pouring boiling hot water over them and letting them steep for at least 10-15 minutes. Use around 1 Tbsp of seeds to each two cups of tea you are making. If that proves too strong (as indicated by urinary ‘squeezing’ or urinating to often), then cut the amount in half.
Tea – Camellia sinensisToo often Tea gets maligned in the messages from western alternative medicine. This highlights the difference between opinions generated by a culture of excess in attempts to counter addiction to stimulating substances of all types (caffeine) and the ancient wisdom of the Oriental system that sees the good in each part of nature and looks for how to use it properly. Tea, especially the mature leaf of the Black Tea, can be a helpful diuretic that is also a surface reliever. This means it can be helpful in opening the channels in the upper body, especially the lungs (bronchial dilator) to help the body’s natural breathing release fluids.
The body has only two ways it can get rid of wastes and detoxify: water and air. We naturally breathe some water vapor in the air exchange through our lungs, upper respiratory channels and pores. If those are clogged this doesn’t happen properly.
Do not think of Tea as just a substance that contains stimulating caffeine. It is not coffee. It offers more chemically and is a source of potent antioxidants that protect the liver and body tissues from cell damage. It opens up the lungs for better breathing for asthmatics and those suffering from allergies. It is also gentler. It is superior to coffee for healthy living for many people.
There are other strong diuretics in the herb world. Hydrangea and Cornsilk are also stronger diuretics that can help with kidney gravel and stones; Coriander/Cilantro aids in loosening of accumulated heavy metals from tissues; Plantain is great for UTIs/inflammations as is Uva Ursi.
Most importantly, understand it took time for excess fluids to accumulate and it will take time to get rid of them in a healthy way. Anything that flushes fluids away quickly through over-stimulation or over-flushing without the necessary diet and activity changes is NOT healthy. The results will be only temporary.
Follow-up StrategyGetting rid of excess fluids can leave skin sagging. That is the time to start astringent herbs to tone up those tissues. One of the best ones is Schizandra. It is a great constitutional herb with balanced qualities for all body systems, is calming to the nerves and is adaptogenic (gradually builds the body’s capacity to handle stress).