How do diuretics work?
Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluid, mainly water and sodium. Most stimulate the kidneys to excrete more sodium into the urine. When diuretics flush away sodium, the body also flushes away water.
When is a diuretic prescribed?
Doctors prescribe diuretics when the body is retaining too much fluid. This problem is more common in older adults. The following conditions may require the regulation of fluid in the body or result in fluid retention:
- high blood pressure
- congestive heart failure
- kidney dysfunction
- kidney stones
- tissue swelling, such as in swollen legs and feet
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Prescription diuretics may cause some side effects, including:
Considering a natural diuretic
Some herbs and dietary supplements have diuretic properties that may be helpful to you. Always talk with your doctor and ask about any potential allergic reactions, especially if you’re already taking medications.
7 natural diuretics
Below are seven common herbs and supplements that act as natural diuretics. Early scientific studies have shown that many of these alternatives help the body excrete excess fluid. Before trying these remedies, talk to your doctor about dosages and potential drug interactions.
This relative of the rose family is a powerful diuretic. It can reduce fluid buildup, which means it can also improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. Research has shown that the plant’s nutrients increase urinary excretion and flow. Hawthorn berries can also act as diuretics and may help treat kidney problems. Hawthorn is available as a tea.
A 2014 study found that horsetail extract had the same diuretic effects as prescription medications, but with fewer side effects. Horsetail may be a good alternative to prescription diuretics, especially if you’ve had problems with side effects. Horsetail is also available as a tea.
The juniper plant has been used as a diuretic since medieval times. Few modern-day studies have proven its benefits, but the evergreen has shown to have a significant effect on urine volume in animals. Like many natural diuretics, juniper doesn’t seem to lower potassium levels like some drugs do. Try adding juniper to flavor meat and game dishes.
5. Green and black tea
While parsley is mainly used as a garnish, it may be useful for people who are having trouble tolerating diuretic drugs. A 2002 study found that it may help with urinary volume. More recent research has also confirmed its diuretic properties.
This beautiful flower has more than just its looks. Roselle, a species of hibiscus, showed significant diuretic effects in one 2012 study. A different study from that same year also noted that hibiscus helped increase kidney filtration. Hibiscus is available as a tea.
8 diuretic foods
Besides these seven natural diuretics, cutting back on sodium and exercising more can also help reduce fluid buildup. Eating more fruits and vegetables that act as diuretics may be another beneficial solution. These foods include:
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