Posted on: July 6, 2017 at 11:46 am
Last updated: June 12, 2018 at 2:49 pm

There are many reasons the body stores fluid, especially in your legs and ankles. If you’ve ever been on a really long airplane flight, had a long day on your feet, or been pregnant, you might have experienced the common swelling that comes with water retention. It often manifests as a tight feeling in your limbs.

Fortunately for you, essential oils are thought to be powerful and effective remedies when it comes to relieving water retention. Although it will not be able to address the root cause for the swelling, it may help provide some daily relief.

Why Water Retention Happens

Here are just a few of the many reasons why water retention could be happening in your body.

Pressure Changes

Interstitial fluid—the fluid that passes through your capillaries into surrounding tissues which helps to nourish cells—can be affected by pressure changes. This includes flying on an airplane. It affects the capillary wall which can cause it to become a little too permeable, in which case too much fluid will sit in the spaces between cells rather than returning to the capillaries [1].

Not Exercising


You know that exercising has huge benefits for your body, but did you also know that it can help prevent fluid retention? It not only helps your blood go back to the heart faster, but also helps the lymphatic system. If you don’t exercise at all and move minimally throughout the day, you could experience water retention.

Build-up of Lymphatic Fluid

Your lymphatic system is essential to your immunity, and lymphatic fluid usually gets drained from your tissues and will go back into the bloodstream. If there’s a problem with your fluid and it can’t return to the blood quickly, it can accumulate. Improper lymphatic drainage can cause swelling in not just the legs, feet and ankles, but also your abdomen.

This could be the result of a genetic disorder or an outside health complication that’s causing the problem [2]. At any rate, it’s essential to follow up with your healthcare practitioner.

Heart Problems

Any issue with the heart has a potential to cause water retention. Fluid can build up in the lower extremities such as legs, feet, and ankles, but also in the lungs. This is because your blood pressure will change if your heart function changes, which results in fluid retention. If you have heart failure, the fluid can cause breathing problems and even more heart problems [3].

Kidney Issues

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Your kidneys have an important job to do. They filter all kinds of stuff out of the blood. However, if your kidneys can’t eliminate everything they need to eliminate due to poor blood flow (such as is seen in kidney damage or failure), fluid can build up in the body.

Carrying a Child

It’s completely understandable that the weight of your baby could cause fluid buildup during pregnancy. Although you should definitely speak with your doctor about it, usually the problem will resolve itself after you deliver your child [4].

Some Medications

Certain medications can cause the body to retain water, such as birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and aspirin, and heart medications such as beta blockers. Since these medications could cause fluid retention, they may also cause you to gain weight [5].

How to Address the Root Problem


First, it’s essential to find out exactly what’s going on in your body that’s causing the fluid buildup. Whether you don’t exercise, have a heart condition, take a certain medication, or have a kidney or liver problem, getting to the core of what’s happening is paramount.

For this, see your natural healthcare practitioner to figure out what’s going on. You might have an idea about what’s causing your fluid retention, but you might have no clue. Whether it’s a chronic issue or a temporary one, your health is never worth putting off.

After you find the root cause of your problem, you can employ essential oils to help ease your water retention. Here’s how to do it.

Using 5 Key Essential Oils to Relieve Fluid Retention

Are you ready for this essential oil list? You’ll love some of these scents and enjoy their anti-inflammatory properties to help relieve your water retention and swelling

  • Lavender Oil—Soaking

I really love lavender essential oil. It has a ton of wonderful properties to it, including helping with depression [6]. Lavender can help to stop water retention and make your swelling go down. You can use warm or cold water (warm is recommended for stiff areas while cold is recommended for pregnant women) and add two drops of lavender, one drop of lemon, and one drop of geranium oil and soak in the vessel for about ten minutes [7].

  • Chamomile Oil—Massage

Use a drop or two of chamomile essential oil mixed with your carrier oil of choice (like almond oil or coconut oil)  and apply it to your swollen areas. You can massage gently until the oil is all gone, or you can also mix these drops in a bit of water and use a cloth for the massage or to apply a compress to the affected area. Chamomile is highly anti-inflammatory and has a long history of helping with many health conditions [8].

  • Juniper Oil—Soaking

This gem of an oil can help get rid of excess fluid and restore your fluid balance. However, it’s not recommended for use among pregnant women. You’ll need several drops—roughly half a teaspoon full—into a container full of water. You can soak your feet or legs for up to 20 minutes, but your swelling should start going away long before that. Juniper acts as a diuretic to aid your body in getting rid of that extra fluid [9].

  • Tea Tree Oil—Massage

Tea tree oil is hugely versatile and has been used for everything from acne to dandruff. This powerful essential oil can help you be used to get rid of your water retention as well. To use, put a few drops in a carrier oil (coconut oil or jojoba oil are great, olive oil should also work) and massage your swollen legs or feet for a few minutes at least two times a day if needed [10]. Make sure you massage from bottom to top to help the fluid find its way out.

  • Fennel Oil—Massage

Fennel oil, like juniper oil, is diuretic and can quickly help you get rid of excess fluid [11]. Here’s how you do it—mix 15 drops of fennel oil with a carrier oil and evening primrose oil if you have it (this can be found in capsule form). Simply massage to experience relief!

If you’re experiencing fluid retention regularly, the first step is to see your doctor to find out what’s causing it if you don’t already know. Short-term situations such as a pregnancy or having a long flight can cause temporary fluid retention. You can use these essential oils to help relieve the swelling and feel better quickly!

This amazing post was written by Jenn Ryan, a freelance writer, and editor who’s passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. You can read more of her work at

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