Water Retention Causes and Treatments

© Copyright Bee Wilder

Edema (water retention) & Swelling

Water retention is called Edema, which is the abnormal build up of fluid in the body. Edema is commonly seen in the feet and ankles. Because of the effect of gravity, swelling is particularly noticeable in these locations.

But swelling due to water retention involves the enlargement of organs, skin, or other body structures. It is caused by excessive build up of fluid in the tissues. This build up can lead to a rapid increase in weight over a short period of time (days to weeks). Swelling can occur throughout the body (generalized) or it may be limited to a specific part of the body (localized).

Certain medications may also cause water retention:

  • Hormones, like estrogen (in birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy) and testosterone
  • A group of blood pressure lowering drugs
  • Steroids
  • Antidepressants

Water retention has many possible causes (Excerpts from: Harvard Medical School, InteliHealth)

  • Venous insufficiency, a common problem caused by weakened valves in the veins of the legs. This makes it more difficult for the veins to pump blood back to the heart, and leads to varicose veins and build up of fluid.
  • Severe chronic lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, increase pressure in the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. This pressure backs up in the heart. The higher pressure causes swelling in the legs and feet.
  • Congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart can no longer pump efficiently, causes fluid build up in the lungs and other parts of the body. Swelling is often most visible in the feet and ankles.
  • Low protein levels in the blood caused by malnutrition, kidney and liver disease can cause edema. The proteins help to hold salt and water inside the blood vessels so fluid does not leak out into the tissues. If the most abundant blood protein, called albumin, gets too low, fluid is retained and edema occurs, especially in the feet, ankles and lower legs.

Other Causes (each topic is detailed in the following text):

  1. Adrenal Malfunction
  2. Kidney Malfunction
  3. Too Much Water (without adequate minerals)
  4. Potassium Loss, diuretic drugs, etc.
  5. Hormones
  6. Kidney Failure Caused by Taking Aspirin or Acetaminophen

1. Adrenal Malfunction

Sometimes water retention is a result of adrenal gland malfunction, and boosting its function is important for maintaining fluid levels.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can also be a problem for people with candida, because it causes the body to produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that elevates heart and respiration rates; also called ‘epinephrine.’ The function of adrenaline is to restore and maintain blood glucose levels. One of the causes of low blood sugar is excessive drinking of alcohol, but we know that candida toxins are mostly alcohol in nature too, which would also cause low blood sugar. Alcohol interferes with maintaining normal blood sugar levels because it directly affects the functioning of the liver and adrenals. Article Source

Therefore when the adrenal glands produce too much adrenaline it affects the sympathetic nervous system. When the sympathetic nervous system is active there a quickening of the pulse, increased blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels, decreased activity in bladder and bowel muscle, dilation of the pupils and a rise in blood sugar – preparing the body to react to a threat through “flight or fight” behaviour.

On the other hand when the parasympathetic nervous system is active it produces the opposite responses to the sympathetic nervous system, i.e. pulse and blood pressure are normal, blood vessels relax, saliva and mucus production is increased, gastric juice is secreted and motility of the digestive tract is increased, digestion is increased, pupils relax, etc.

It is essential for candida sufferers to consciously relax the whole body whenever their sympathetic nervous system is particularly active. To switch it over from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system do deep breathing exercises, particularly when you notice your tension is increasing.

Deep Breathing Exercise – Take 3-4 slow deep breaths in a row, and about 5 minutes later take another 3-4 slow deep breaths, and wait another 5 minutes and repeat it. This will help your body relax and change it over from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, which will aid digestion and many other functions of the body.

This can be repeated as many times as necessary. But don’t do it so often that you start to hyperventilate. The key is to take the breaths very slowly, deeply and deliberately.

The adrenal glands also produce a number of hormones which are essential to life. Two corticosteroids hormones that are produced are aldersterone and hydrocostisone. They are most important because they:

  • regulate the quantity of salt and water in the body,
  • are instrumental in the regulation of sodium and potassium re-absorption by the specific cells within the kidneys (this would also cause excessive thirst),
  • control carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism,
  • and help fight stressful situations.

For adrenal gland treatments see the article Adrenal Malfunction and How to Improve It

2. Kidney Malfunction

Since candida toxins make all cell membranes rigid and brittle, the kidneys can also be involved, just like any other organ or system throughout the body. This can result in kidney malfunction as well.

Symptoms of kidney malfunction:

  • Edema (swelling) in any area of the body, may be generalized
  • Foamy appearance of urine
  • Weight gain (from fluid retention)
  • Poor appetite
  • Urination, excessive at night
  • High blood pressure
  • Excretion of protein in the urine
  • Oval fat bodies in the urine

Kidney treatments include the candida diet along with the recommended supplements, with special emphasis on getting adequate minerals — trace minerals are obtained from a good ocean sea salt, and eating enough “good” saturated fats, i.e. butter, coconut oil, lard, etc. — see the article “Saturated Fats and the Kidneys“.

3. Too Much Water

Another Reason Why Women Can Retain Water Explains Why Too Much Water Can Harm Marathon Runners
Annals of Internal Medicine 2000;132:711-714

When runners collapse or get sick at the end of a long race, it seems logical to give them fluids. Sometimes, however, water is the last thing these athletes need. All had taken in too much water during their races, causing sodium levels in the blood to drop.

From there excess water is absorbed into blood and fluid builds up in the brain. Eventually, fluid accumulates in the lungs, and athletes become breathless and nauseated.

When runners collapse or become ill, the natural assumption may be that they are having a heart attack. Yet, rather than being a sign of heart attack, fluid build-up in the lungs — called pulmonary edema — may signal brain swelling.

The investigators describe the cases of seven marathoners who collapsed and had nausea and vomiting after their races. When brain scans revealed swelling, six of the patients were treated with an intravenous solution containing high amounts of sodium — a water-depleting treatment that is directly the opposite of the low-sodium solutions that runners may receive if they are misdiagnosed. The seventh patient, who was not diagnosed with brain swelling, later died; an autopsy revealed that there had indeed been fluid on the brain.

Five of the patients were female, suggesting that women may be more prone to water intoxication and its effects on the brain and lungs. All seven had a history of using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — painkillers that include aspirin. These drugs can block the excretion of water from the body. Runners who become breathless and nauseated after drinking large amounts of water during a race should go the hospital and doctors should check blood sodium levels.

Dr. Mercola’s Comment: Having been a long distance runner for over thirty years I found this report particularly interesting. There is no question that running is one of the most time efficient exercises. The last marathon I ran was ten years ago, and I am convinced that it is a very unhealthy and generally unbeneficial thing to do for health. However, if done wisely it can lead to an improvement in health, but one must make certain that high levels of antioxidants are used.

There are several pearls from this study, which include the observation that the runners who died from water intoxication had taken nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There are large numbers of these medications available over the counter now (aspirin, Advil, Motrin, etc.).

These drugs can be particularly dangerous in long distance running and also should be considered as a possible cause for those women who are experiencing water retention. These medications should be banned from anyone participating in an endurance event as the risk for serious or lethal injury is far too high.

Excerpts from: “Ask the Doctor about Dry Skin

“The reason drinking a lot of water doesn’t work very well is because the water in our cells is actually derived from the metabolism of fats. (The water we drink mostly goes into the blood stream and then out via the kidneys.)

It follows, therefore, that when the skin is dry it means there is a relative imbalance or deficiency of fats, especially compared to the levels of carbohydrates in the diet. I find confirmation of this in my practice in that most of my patients who suffer from dry skin are thin and have been eating a low-fat diet. They are also often hypoglycemic and crave sugar.

Thus they are eating a diet that is high in carbohydrates but deficient in good quality fat. By changing the ratio, so that more calories come from fats than carbohydrates, the body produced more water for the cells. In addition, the body will now have more fatty acids available for our oil-producing glands, which are our natural moisturizers. Good fats include butter, lard, coconut oil, olive oil…”

Bee’s Notes: Drinking too much water can be even more harmful than drinking too little, particularly if not accompanied by the nutrients required so the body’s cells can utilize water properly. The nutrients required are contained in Bee’s Candida Program, with particular emphasis on:

  • Ocean sea salt for the sodium, chloride and over 84 trace minerals (electrolytes).
  • Animal proteins and eggs, which help hold salt and water in the blood vessels so fluid does not leak out into the tissues.
  • “Good” saturated fats because the water in our cells is actually derived from the metabolism of fats.

4. Potassium Loss, Diuretic Drugs, etc.

Excerpts from:
If You Have To Take More Than One Drug Make Sure You Have A Pharmacist Who Can Counsel You
by Miriam Tucker, The Washington Post February 6, 2001; Page HE09.

In 1999, an 83-year-old Maryland woman wound up in the hospital after a particularly bad asthma attack. She’d quit using her inhaler, since it made her nauseated. While in the hospital she was given powerful steroids to treat her asthma. These raised her blood pressure. So she was given an antihypertensive drug. It made her dizzy.

When her ankles swelled, she was prescribed a diuretic to reduce water retention. But that dropped her potassium level. Naturally, potassium supplements were added. She was also given an osteoporosis drug.

This made her stomach bleed. “I came out sicker than I went in,” says the grandmother, who was willing to tell her story but asked her name not be published.

She was so sick, in fact, that she couldn’t care for herself after getting out of the hospital and had to stay with her daughter. When she became depressed, an antidepressant was added to her regimen. Then came another drug for stomach acid.

Medicines/Drugs versus Nutrients

Medicines/drugs may have saved lives, but few are completely free of risks or side effects.

Bee’s note: While medicines/drugs may have saved lives, they are also toxic/poisonous. Instead of being used routinely they should only be used when life is severely threatened, or to get a person through a crisis, “and” when there are no other options.

When Dr. Weston A. Price was called to the bedside of dying people he took with him only two things:

  1. Butter Oil.
  2. High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil.

Dr. Price mixed the two together, and only 1 teaspoonful of the combination brought them back from the brink of death.

Primary health care should consist of nutrient-rich and natural treatments instead of drugs. Drugs or medicines should only be used very temporarily, and not without nutrient-rich body-building foods. Your body does not get sick from a lack of medicines or drugs. Your body gets sick from too many toxins and a lack of “proper nutrients” which are found in nutrient-rich foods directly from Mother Nature.

Even taking supplements has its dangers. For example, stopping very high doses of Vitamin C suddenly (like those administered to cure cancer, i.e. over 20,000 mg per day) can cause a heart attack. When taking supplements, herbs, and spices for healing purposes it is wise to remember that “more is not better!” Taking more of one supplement than the body needs, also throws off balances of other nutrients. And taking, or doing, too many treatments can interfere with natural healing and even stop it. Any treatments, other than basic “proper nutrients,” should only be used short periods of time to assist the body, but should not be continued longer, and certainly not forever.

How to Balance Potassium & Sodium

Potassium is one of the electrolytes (minerals) that, along with sodium and chloride, are involved in the maintenance of normal water balance… (from acu-cell.com).

Low potassium levels will cause weight gain and water retention, however low sodium (salt) levels can also result in edema.

The best solution to this problem is to take a good ocean sea salt, i.e. Celtic sea salt, which will provide all of the trace minerals required by the body — over 84 in number — and also contribute proper amounts of sodium and chloride, which are two of the seven macronutrients required by the body. Take at least 1 1/2 teaspoons of ocean sea salt either in the lemon and sea salt drink or added to foods.

Potassium is prevalent in so many foods it would be almost impossible to have low levels. Even one cup of tea contains over 120 mgs.

5. The Hormone Connection

From: Hormones

They [hormones] are chemical compounds that are players in the most sophisticated and exquisitely balanced internet in the entire body: the endocrine system. This group of glands, including the adrenals, the pituitary, the ovaries, the testes, the thyroid, and the hypothalamus are interrelated in impossibly complex ways, about which we’re just beginning to get glimpses of understanding.

It’s a swirling universe of chemical elegance and precision, involving millions of refined little molecular firings which wink in and out of existence every second. “Touch one strand and the whole web trembles,” is the way endocrinologist Deepak Chopra puts it. The endocrine system controls all other systems of the body by means of chemical messengers, who wait for an answer.

The following excerpts are from “The Estrogen Connection

Estrogen is a hormone, one of the moving parts of that endocrine system. It is a steroid (made from cholesterol) hormone, occurring in both men and women. Estrogen is produced in three main places in a woman’s body are the ovaries, the adrenal glands, and the fat cells.

The main purpose of estrogen is to make the uterine lining, the endometrium, ready to implant a fertilized egg in the event fertilization occurs.

  • Water Retention
  • Fat Storage
  • Maturation of the Female Adolescent

All the above is okay if pregnancy is likely. But excess estrogen throws off the timing. Excess estrogen causes the body to prepare for embryo implantation all the time. This state of over-preparation is the cause of:

  • sluggish blood circulation
  • migraines
  • increased clotting
  • high stroke risk
  • disrupted copper/zinc ratios in brain cells/ mood swings
  • fibroids
  • endometriosis

Every system in the body has a feedback loop to keep balance. Estrogen has a sister hormone called progesterone, whose functions are equally important. Progesterone is the other primary female hormone, which is produced in the ovaries. It is the precursor for both estrogen and testosterone, as well as all other natural steroid hormones.

Progesterone’s functions are:

  • maintains the mucous membrane lining of the uterus in pregnancy
  • new bone formation
  • regulates blood pressure
  • fat conversion
  • sugar metabolism
  • maintaining myelin (nerve insulation)
  • regulates estrogen production

Estrogen Dominance

If estrogen levels get too high, progesterone can no longer keep the dynamic balance. This is exactly what happens in American women who live their whole adult lives with pathologically high levels of estrogen. The main reasons for the high levels are refined carbohydrates, man-made fats and oils, and xenoestrogens – see below for a complete description.

Refined carbohydrates, hard fats [man-made oils and fats], nutrient-devoid foods and too much of it all serve to raise estrogen to abnormal levels, as much as twice the normal, which are maintained for the better part of the adult lives of most American women.

Xenoestrogens. Huh? Xeno- means foreign. So the word xenoestrogen just means estrogens from outside the body. Many external toxins have been found to have estrogen-like effects in the body. Most are petroleum derivatives. Xenoestrogens are found in plastics, computer chips, PVC, pesticides, soap, clothes, DDT and other modern manufactured goods.

There has been extensive zoological research in the area of xenoestrogen effects on animals and the resulting birth defects. In studies of panthers, alligators, birds, turtles, seals, fish, and many other species from diverse parts of the globe, scientists are finding a common theme: feminization of males, decreased sperm counts, low male testosterone, and extremely high levels of estrogen in females, with plummeting numbers of offspring.

Though some scientists had known about the problem for several years, public attention was drawn by a series of articles that appeared in three consecutive issues of the LA Times in Oct 1994.

Alligator offspring studied at University of Florida had very high estrogen and low testosterone as a consequence of a large pesticide spill in Lake Apopka near Gainesville. Again, gonad shrinkage was observed in males, leading to a drop in alligator reproduction in the lake estimated at 90% since the spill occurred.

Wild panthers in the Florida Everglades have had their sperm counts reduced by 90%, due to high estrogen levels from years of state dumping of DDT and other toxic pesticides into the swamp waters.

Between 1950 and 1970, some four million pounds of the pesticide DDT, illegal today, was dumped into the ocean in Los Angeles. Examples of eggshell thinning, gonad shrinkage and feminization in males, overdeveloped ovaries in females, and failure to thrive are some of the defects found in seagull studies at UC Davis by Michael Fry. In 1981, Fry published his research in the journal Science. Shrugged off for years by the scientific community, Fry’s work is now being corroborated all over the world in dozens of other species.

Dr. John Lee talks about the “sea of estrogen” in which we exist as the result of many factors:

  • hormones in meat
  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)
  • foaming agents in soap and detergents
  • tons of pesticides, herbicides
  • condom spermicides
  • DDT
  • cosmetics
  • plastic cookware & containers
  • birth control pills
  • HRT (hormone replacement therapy)

The pathway of causation is clear: xenoestrogens maintain estrogen levels at double the normal values for the entire adult life of the human female. As the complementary hormone that’s supposed to balance the delicate system of sex hormones, progesterone is simply overwhelmed by the dominant estrogens.

Natural hormones are subtle, fragile and transient. Xenoestrogens, by contrast, are harsh, strong and long-lasting. Progesterone just doesn’t stand a chance. HRT is just another xenoestrogen, making things worse.

Consequences of Estrogen Dominance:

  • As estrogen levels build up to twice the normal level, many systems of the body are adversely affected.
  • Body fat stores increase.
  • Fluids are retained, causing bloating and edema.
  • There are defects in both fat and sugar metabolism, often severe enough to cause diabetes.
  • Risks of endometrial cancer are increased by 5-14 times, as cited in the 1975 NEJM articles above.

Bee’s note: Takin progesterone hormones is not recommended.

Treatment for high levels of estrogen is to eliminate any sources of toxins or xenoestrogens, and to cure candida. This is because candida toxins makes all cell membranes go rigid and brittle, which means organs that produce hormones aren’t as able to function. Stiff cells are not as able to absorb hormones that are being produced, as well as nutrients and even water.

7. Kidney Failure Caused by taking Aspirin or Acetaminophen

Do You Use Aspirin or Tylenol Regularly? Beware as They Are Linked to Kidney Failure

Individuals who have kidney disease or other ailments who regularly take aspirin or acetaminophen may be boosting their risk of developing kidney failure.

Researchers report that such patients who were regular users — those who took these painkillers at least twice a week for 2 months — were two to three times more likely to have the beginning stages of chronic kidney failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers on a regular basis.

This study and others have found that the risk is minimal in those without pre-existing kidney disease.

Individuals who used either drug regularly were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with chronic renal failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers. The risk rose in tandem with the amount of either drug taken over a lifetime, the investigators found.

In looking at only participants with diabetes — a major underlying cause of kidney failure — regular aspirin and acetaminophen use were still linked to an increased risk.

The results support those of other studies that have found an association between regular use of painkillers and an increased risk of chronic kidney failure in susceptible individuals.

The results are consistent with exacerbating (increase in severity) effects of acetaminophen and aspirin on chronic renal failure, practically regardless of accompanying disease.

The New England Journal of Medicine December 20, 2001;345:1801-1808

Dr. Mercola’s Comment: About 15% of the people on dialysis today are there as a result of the damage that Tylenol and/or aspirin did to their kidneys. Twenty percent of those with heart failure are due to them taking NSAIDs. These drugs may also be associated with diverticular disease (see definition) of the colon.

Definition: Diverticular disease – Small pouches in the colon that bulges outward through weak spots, like an inner tube that pokes through weak places in a tire. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Pouches (plural) are called diverticula. The condition of having diverticula is called diverticulosis.