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Liver/water retention


I was wondering which herbs would be good for water retention due to sluggish liver and toxicity build up.


Are you talking about abdominal bloating more than edema or generalized water retention? What makes you think you have a “sluggish” liver? What is you diet like? What other symptoms do you have - any digestive problems besides fluid retention? How is your overall energy?


Hi. Thanks for replying. I had severe digestive issues for years and had to take antibiotics. Now I can’t eat any sugar or carbs. I’m a vegetarian anyway and eat a lot of unprocessed food and organic foods. The water retention is all over, but predominantly around my abdomen. If I eat too much or eat the wrong foods or have alcohol, I won’t be able to pass urine, sometimes for days. I have low energy, especially when waking and I have swollen itchy eyes in the morning.


Do you sleep through the night? How long have you been a vegetarian? and how long have you had these symptoms? Finally, is your tongue pale or red in shading, coating thick or thin, any teethmarks on the tongue?


Hi. The symptoms have gradually built up over the last three years. I’ve been a vegetarian on and off for most of my life. My tongue doesn’t have teeth marks, but does have quite a thick coating. With regards to sleep, it can be disturbed, but I usually sleep quite heavily and find it hard to wake. It seems the less water retention I have, the easier I seem to wake. Thanks.


Water metabolism is pretty complicated; pretty much every organ system contributes one way or another. As such water retention can be due to a number of wildly different underlying pathology. It can be caused by excessive consumption of cold and damp foods (i.e. most vegetarian diets), by a blockage of the flow from interior to exterior, by kidney deficiency, by blockage due to excessive toxic build up, weakness of the heart failing to move the blood, triple warmer/burner failing to move the fluids, blockage/dryness of the intestine and so on.

How are you temperature wise? Do you tend to have cold hands/feet, any aversion to cold and or wind? Is the swelling worse in morning or evening?


Hi. My temperature is fine. I sometimes suffer with cold hands, but always have done, but only in the winter. My thyroid became under active about 2 years ago, but I managed to heal it with herbal medicine. There doesn’t seem to any difference with regards to time of day, apart from when I wake in the mornings I sometimes pass a huge amount of urine. I can wake and my bladder is extremely full.


The thirst gets worse at night though.


Your diet might be a significant factor. Like I mentioned earlier, vegetarians tend to eat foods that in TCM terms are both cold and damp, which over time can result in water retention. I’d suggest eating mostly cooked veggies and using plenty of warming ingredients such as garlic, ginger, leeks, onions etc. Try to cut down or avoid all together soy, dairy products, banannas and avacados as they are both cold and damp in nature and may further contribute to the water retention.

In terms of herbal formula, you could consider you gui wan. Based on my best interpretation of your condition I’m leaning towards a kidney yang deficiency, this is a standard formula to treat that. I do recommend it would be best to see a local acupuncturist/herbalist as they would be able to develop a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for you.


So, what exactly was your blood levels 2 years ago and what are they now - what did you take to “heal” your thyroid. What other issues improved while you were taking that formula?


My TSH was 34 and my FT4 was about 4 or 5. They’re back in the normal range now. I took spirulina and another mix, but can’t remember what was in it. I’ve had long standing digestive issues for nearly six years, so I think it’s all linked.


Thank you for the advice.

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