Essential oils for water retention – relieve fluid retention naturally

by Alison Angold CIDESCO ITEC

Essential oils for water retention – or diuretic essential oils, as they are often known – will increase the production of urine, from the kidneys, so they help to relieve water retention, by allowing the body to rid of waste, toxins and fluid that may be building up and causing swelling in the body’s tissues.

A diuretic essential oil will help relieve the water retention which causes swelling in the tissues, commonly known as oedema.

The best essential oils for water retention

  • Fennel
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper
  • Orange
  • Patchouli
  • Cypress
  • Rosemary

(While I am a fully qualified and experienced aromatherapist, I am not medically trained.  The use of oils suggested in this article, are for short term use, and if ever in any doubt about a medical condition please see your GP)

Essential oils sitting on a shelf.  Essential oils for water retention.

What is water retention?

Water retention is simply excess water and fluids building up underneath the skins surface, that results in swelling, usually in the legs, ankles and feet, although the swelling can occur on other areas of the body too.

What causes water retention?

There are many things that can cause water or fluid retention in the body.  These can be;

Poor diet – a build up of excess waste and toxins, or an excess of sodium in the diet, may mean that the kidneys cannot flush the excess waste and fluid out of the body.

Lack of movement – a sedentary lifestyle, may means that the fluid and more importantly the lymph in the body, is not moving along sufficiently, and therefore not ridding of waste efficiently.

Pregnancy – it is fairly normal to experience fluid retention during pregnancy, as the general movement of waste in the body may be slower.

Being overweight  – again the lymphatic function in the body may not work as efficiently if a person is overweight. This can cause accumulation of fluids in the body under the surface of the skin.

Medication – certain medications or long term use, can sometimes cause water retention.

Water retention is usually harmless, however if at all worried, please seek advice from your doctor.

Diuretic essential oils, can be used to encourage urine production and help relieve water retention whilst helping to cleanse your system too.

Diuretic essential oils for water retention


Fennel is the ultimate detox essential oil.  It helps to cleanse out the kidneys and stimulates them too, which means they will work more effectively to cleanse the blood and rid of excess waste, salts etc in the body.  Fennel is a good general detoxifier for the whole body.

(Do not use during pregnancy, or if epileptic, or in high doses – it can be narcotic when used in large doses)


Grapefruit is a lovely light refreshing essential oil and also a diuretic essential oil, so helps to reduce water retention and oedema (swelling)


Another well known diuretic essential oil, Juniper helps to relieve fluid retention by increasing the amount of urine to flush waste and toxins away.

(Do not use during pregnancy, or if suffering with any sort of kidney issues.  Prolonged use can cause kidney damage, so should just be for short term use only)


Orange essential oil really helps out the lymphatic system, which is effectively our ‘waste’ system.  By stimulating the lymphatic system, we are helping to clear out any waste and bacteria which may be in our body and thus in turn, relieving water retention and associated swelling.


Patchouli is a diuretic essential oil so helping to increase the production of urine to allow excess waste to be removed from the body.


Cypress essential oil is classed as an astringent oil, which means that it has a tightening effect on the tissues of the body.  This in turn will help to rid of water retention and other swollen conditions such as cellulite.

(Avoid during pregnancy)


Rosemary is a diuretic essential oil so helps relieve water retention.

(Avoid during pregnancy, epilepsy and high blood pressure)

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How to use essential oils for water retention

Body massage oil

The easiest and probably the most effective way of using essential oils for water retention is to blend a body oil to massage into the skin.  This means that the diuretic essential oils will be absorbed by the skin and be taken to the target area of the body. Essential oils must always be mixed with a carrier oil and not applied neat to the skin.

Body massage oil blend for water retention

50ml Sweet Almond Oil, 4 drops Fennel, 6 drops Grapefruit & 6 drops Rosemary

50ml Sweet Almond Oil, 4 drops Juniper, 4 drops Cypress & 6 drops Orange

Bath oil

A bath oil is an alternative way to use essential oils for water retention, and provides a chance to benefit from the relaxation properties of the essential oils.  Mixing the essential oils with a carrier oil is a must as they will disperse throughout the bath in a much better way than using them on the own.

Bath oil blend for fluid retention

50ml Sweet Almond oil, 4 drops Patchouli, 6 drops Lavender, 6 drops Orange

50ml Sweet Almond oil, 4 drops Fennel, 6 drops Lavender, 6 drops Grapefruit

The addition of Lavender gives the bath a relaxing element, as well as adding its therapeutic actions of being detoxifying and anti-inflammatory, which will also help with relieving water retention.

For more Bath oil recipes read here.

Hand and foot cream

This is another useful alternative if the swelling is predominately in the hands and feet.  By applying a cream that is infused with diuretic essential oils, then the swelling may gain some relief this way.

Diuretic essential oil hand & foot cream blend

Simply add a few drops of your chosen essential oils to a plain hand cream and mix.  For every 5 ml of cream, add 2 drops of essential oil. The following blends work well;

Fennel & Grapefruit

Juniper & Orange

Cypress and Rosemary

How do essential oils for water retention work?

Essential oils are the pure oils that are extracted from flower petals, leaves, fruit or herbs.  The molecules of the oils are so fine and pure that they have the ability to penetrate through the skin’s surface. 

Each oil is made up of complex chemical components which together have therapeutic effects or actions on the skin, body or mind.

With topical application they can enter the bloodstream and travel around the body to have an effect.

The oils can also be inhaled and the molecules enter the body via the membranes in the nose, so in addition to enjoying the fragrances, we can get the benefits of the oils into the body here too.

Precautions for Essential oils for water retention

As already mentioned these essential oil suggestions are for short term, occasional use, and if ever in any doubt and water retention, oedema or its causes, then please consult your doctor.

Do not use Fennel, Juniper, Cypress or Rosemary during pregnancy.

Do not use Fennel or Rosemary if epileptic.

Do not use Juniper, if you suffer with any kidney disease or kidney issues.

Do not use Rosemary if you suffer with high blood pressure.

Grapefruit and Orange essential oils are phototoxic, which means the skin is prone to burning after application. Avoid direct sunlight on the applied area.

About the Author
Alison Angold is a fully qualified (certified) beauty therapist, massage therapist, and aromatherapist from the UK. She has over 25 years of experience in this industry and has worked in a variety of beauty salons, spa’s as well as running her own successful beauty and massage business. Her career has allowed her to treat many, many clients, with skincare concerns, medical conditions, and a whole variety of other ailments and issues, which has enabled her to work closely with essential oils, prescribing specific blends for these clients to help with these conditions. Her qualifications in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, allow her to share this knowledge with others, in a safe, reliable way.