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Why are you retaining water? Acupuncture can help reduce water retention.

The human body is composed mostly of water, which is distributed throughout the blood, muscles, organs, and even bones. However, there are instances when the body holds onto an excessive amount of water in specific areas, leading to water retention. This condition is characterized by feelings of puffiness and swelling. Maintaining healthy fluid levels in the body relies on the proper functioning of the circulatory system, including blood circulation and the lymphatic system, as well as the kidneys, hormonal factors, and other bodily mechanisms.

Water retention occurs when there is a disruption in one or more of these mechanisms responsible for maintaining fluid balance. The primary symptoms of water retention include swelling and discomfort. It can manifest in various parts of the body, such as the legs, ankles, feet, abdomen, chest, face, and hands. The specific symptoms experienced will depend on the affected area.

When water retention affects the limbs, feet, and hands, the common symptoms may include swelling, changes in skin color, shiny or puffy skin, areas of skin that remain indented when pressed with a finger, aches and tenderness in the limbs, joint stiffness, and weight gain. On the other hand, if the water retention occurs in the abdomen and face, symptoms may include bloating, puffiness of the abdomen, face, and hips, and fluctuations in weight. Individuals experiencing water retention may feel heavier than usual.

Water retention can be a common issue, but it can also be a sign of an underlying health condition. However, when not caused by a serious health condition, acupuncture has shown promise in alleviating water retention.

The movement of fluid through the extracellular matrix of tissues, particularly between blood and lymphatic vessels, is known as interstitial fluid flow. This flow is an integral part of the circulatory system, which carries water throughout the body. The lymphatic system, also a crucial component of the circulatory system, plays a role in maintaining fluid balance. Its network of capillaries and collecting lymphatic vessels efficiently drains and transports fluid, along with proteins and antigens, back to the circulatory system. Unlike the closed system of blood vessels, the lymphatic system's vessel walls are not as strong. If circulation is hindered due to factors like tension in the body, the transportation of fluids may be disrupted, leading to water retention.

Scientific research has demonstrated that acupuncture can improve blood circulation. Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulation increases blood flow in the skin and muscles. For instance, Sandberg et al. investigated the effects of acupuncture on skin and muscle blood flow. Through intermittent blood flow recordings, they found that skin and muscle blood flow increased after acupuncture stimulation. Similarly, Kuo et al. studied the effect of acupuncture on skin blood flow and discovered that it resulted in increased skin blood flow and temperature.

Acupuncture not only enhances blood flow but also facilitates the movement of fluid in the lymphatic system throughout the body. The insertion of acupuncture needles alters the interstitial microenvironment, helping to reduce water retention, decrease joint inflammation, swelling of limbs, and stabilize weight.

In conclusion, water retention can be an uncomfortable condition that affects various parts of the body. While it can be a common issue or a symptom of an underlying health condition, acupuncture has demonstrated its potential in reducing water retention. By improving blood circulation and facilitating the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system, acupuncture can alleviate symptoms such as swelling, discomfort, and weight fluctuations. If you are experiencing water retention, considering acupuncture as a complementary therapy may be worth exploring.


Wei Yao et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.  2012: 853516.

Sandberg et al Eur Appl Physiol (2003) 90:114-9

Kuo et al Am J Chin Med (2004) 32 :117-29

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