Anytime you take diuretics, it is important to proceed with caution even if you are using diuretic herbs instead of pharmaceutical medications. Using diuretics for weight loss is never a good idea and is only a temporary solution at best.
Talk to Your Doctor About Using Natural Diuretics
Diuretics can be useful for treating water retention that accompanies premenstrual syndrome, preventing high blood pressure or lessening symptoms of glaucoma, but they can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Low potassium levels or pre-existing dehydration can become life-threatening when combined with diuretic use. Always speak to your doctor or natural health practitioner before deciding to use diuretics.
Common Diuretic Herbs
Diuretic herbs are often gentler and milder than prescription medications, and some have other health benefits as well. The following herbs have been identified as having diuretic properties and are generally considered safe for most people.
Burdock is a large, herbaceous plant that is native to Europe. It is, however, a traveller, and most people are familiar with the bristling seeds that stick to pant legs, dog fur and anything else that happens to brush against the plant. This is probably how burdock made its way to North America, where it is generally considered a weed species.
Burdock root is eaten as a vegetable in some parts of Asia, and in North America has recently gained attention for the inulin content of the large taproot. Burdock is an effective diuretic, and should not be taken in conjunction with other diuretic medications, as this may lead to serious dehydration. It also may interact with other medications, such as anti-coagulants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and increase risk of bleeding. If you are taking any other medications, it is important to consult with your prescribing health care professional before using burdock as a diuretic.
Dandelion is perhaps the most readily available health-promoting herb you can find. Of course, you can purchase dandelion roots and leaves as dried powders, capsules or teas, but it is just as easy to go out and find a nice pesticide-free lawn and harvest your own natural diuretic.All parts of the dandelion plant have diuretic properties, but the leaves are the most potent source. Use fresh or dried leaves to brew dandelion leaf tea. Alternatively, make your own tincture of dandelion leaves by combining equal parts finely chopped dandelion leaves and vodka in a sealed glass jar. Store the solution away from heat or light for one to two weeks, then strain off the liquid.
Also known as bearberry or kinnikinnik, Uva ursi is a low-growing, perennial shrub native to alpine regions of the United States and Canada. Easily identified by its shiny green oval leaves, delicate pink flowers and bright red berries, Uva ursi makes a delightful addition to any medicinal herb garden and has numerous medicinal properties. Bastyr University identifies 15 active compounds in the little shrub, effective not only as a powerful diuretic but also as an antibiotic and astringent.Uva Ursi is available at health food stores in the form of powdered herb in capsules, but if you are lucky enough to live in a region where it grows wild you can harvest and process your own. Harvest the leaves in late summer or early autumn. To replicate commercial preparations, dry the leaves in a cool, dark place, grind them into powder, and place into empty gelatin capsules. Alternatively, prepare a tincture as for dandelion, or steep fresh leaves as tea.
There has been evidence of some toxicity when used long-term, so Bastyr University recommends therapy with Uva ursi be limited to no more than 14 days.
Yarrow helps rid the body of excess fluids in two ways: as a diuretic and as a diaphoretic - a substance that induces sweating. These combined properties make it a common choice to relieve premenstrual water retention and cramping, increase urine flow and combat inflammation.
Yarrow may also increase the production of stomach acid, lower blood pressure and induce mild sleepiness, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. As a result, it might interact with medications prescribed for indigestion, hypertension or insomnia. If you are taking any of these medications, yarrow might not be a good choice of diuretic herbs for your particular condition.
Use Diuretic Herbs With Caution
Diuretic herbs can be a safe and healthful alternative to pharmaceutical medicines, but must be respected as medicines in their own right. Used with caution, these herbs can make an excellent addition to your botanical pharmacy.