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Edema, dropsy or simply water retention, is the abnormal accumulation of fluid under the skin or inside body cavities. It is a sign of a malfunctioning of the adrenals (glands located above the kidneys), of kidneys, the circulatory system, or even of the heart. Bloating due to water retention also occurs frequently in the premenstrual period or in menopause.

Edema mostly affects the legs, feet and ankles, because the gravity pulls down the water which collects in those extremities. Peripheral edema affects the face and hands.

There are two kinds of edema: pitting and non-pitting edema. Pitting edema gives an indentation in the swollen area when pressed with fingers, non-pitting edema does not.

It seems that women are generally more prone to water retention than men.

Bananas are a good cure for the edema, because they contain potassium which helps to eliminate the excess fluid. If a person feels bloated, it helps to eat a banana plain, sliced or mashed. Raisins can be used instead of bananas too.

It may seem logical to take diuretics to eliminate the excess water, but this only goes for people with heart, liver or kidney disease. In other cases they just cause more retention.

In case the bloating is caused by the premenstrual period, it may actually help to drink plenty of water, although it seems like the last thing to do. Water flushes out of the system very quickly and alleviates the bloating. However, if the edema is caused by another condition and not the PMS, it is recommended to consult a medical professional before taking up great amounts of water. In some cases it can be counterproductive.

Exercising is proven to be an efficient method to eliminate excess fluids from the body. During the exercise, the body loses a lot of water through sweat, fast breathing and increased urination. It is important to exercise at least a little, for example walking instead of driving, walking up and down the stairs every hour as a break in long periods of sitting.

To prevent the accumulation of the water in the feet, ankles and legs, they should be elevated while sitting or sleeping. That way the fluids will go back in the circulatory system and towards the kidneys, from where they will be expelled through the urinary tract.

There are some essential oils that help with edema. Those oils include lavender, juniper, cypress, geranium and rosemary. They can be taken in any form, from vaporizers, liquids, bathoil, to mouthwash, compresses and massage.

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