Are you prone to swollen ankles, bulging tummy and under eye bags? If your answer is yes, there is a good chance that your body is holding on to excess amounts of water and salt. Fluid retention can be a sign of high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. While your doctor may prescribe you diuretic pills to treat this condition, several foods and drinks can also act as natural diuretics.
Let us learn about some of the best natural diuretics that help provide relief from water retention.
What are diuretics?
Diuretics are substances that help to increase the amount of salt and water expelled from the body as urine. People with high blood pressure, kidney problems, heart failure, and swollen tissues, are prescribed diuretics. Also known as water pills, diuretics can lead to side effects like muscle pain and cramps, weakness, hypotension, high blood sugar, and dizziness.
Natural diuretics, on the other hand, mimic the effects of the diuretics without causing any side effects. They help get rid of fluid retention and also provide numerous health benefits thanks to their rich nutrient content.
Coffee is considered as mild diuretic thanks to its caffeine content (1). According to studies, high doses of caffeine (250 to 300 mg) can have a diuretic effect. This amount is equivalent to two to three cups of coffee. However, if you are a regular coffee drinker, you may develop a tolerance to the diuretic effects of coffee.
2. Green and black tea
The caffeine content of green tea increases the amount of urine expelled by the body. The diuretic properties of green tea help to reduce blood pressure. Green tea is also known to act as a stimulant and can improve energy levels, concentration, and mood.
Black tea contains two to four percent caffeine, which increases urine output. It also contains antioxidants which help to protect the heart and blood vessels. Theophylline, a compound found in tea, enhances the diuretic effect of caffeine.
3. Black cumin (Nigella sativa)
Also known as black caraway, this seed is a natural diuretic. It increases urine output and reduces sodium and potassium levels. Researchers are also studying nigella sativa for its role in lowering high blood pressure (2). This seed is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Dandelion is a wildflower found in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. People often take supplements of dandelion for their diuretic effects.
A small study by the Department of Herbal Medicine, Tai Sophia Institute, found that taking dandelion extract increases the frequency of urination in the five hours of receiving the first dose (3). According to studies, the high potassium content of dandelion extracts may be responsible for its diuretic effects (4).
Hibiscus is considered a natural diuretic and a remedy for mild fluid retention. According to a study from Mexico, the diuretic effects of hibiscus are due to the modulation of the aldosterone activity (5). You can make hibiscus tea by steeping dried petals of hibiscus flower in hot water.
Parsley is a popular herb which often used in fresh or dried form. It is also used in folk medicine in the form of tea to reduce water retention (6).
According to a study from Lebanon, when rats were given parsley seed extract to drink, they eliminated a larger volume of urine per 24 hours as compared to when they drank water (7).
Caraway is the oldest culinary and medicinal plant used in Europe. The ripe fruits of caraway are used as a diuretic in traditional Moroccan medicine.
According to a 2007 study from Morocco, when researchers gave caraway extract to male Wistar rats, their urine output increased significantly over the next 24 hours (8).
Caraway is also traditionally used for the treatment of indigestion and pneumonia.
Horsetail or Equisetum arvense is an herb that has been used as a diuretic. A 2014 trial studied the effects of horsetail on 36 healthy male volunteers. The researchers found horsetail to be as useful as hydrochlorothiazide (9).
This herb contains silica, which is the reason why people also use it for skin care nail care, wound healing, osteoporosis, and bone repair.
Hawthorn has been used for medical purposes since the time of the Greek physician Dioscorides (40 to 90 AD). People have used it traditionally as a diuretic for kidney and bladder disorders.
A relative of the rose family, hawthorn can reduce fluid build-up, which helps improve the symptoms of congestive heart failure.
According to research, the procyanidins present in hawthorn are responsible for its diuretic properties (10).
You can consume hawthorn n the form of tea.
Juniper is a short to medium height tree that grown in parts of Europe, North America and Asia. It has been used a diuretic since medieval times. It helps the body to flush out uric acid and excess crystals that can cause problems like gout, arthritis, and kidney stones.
Juniper can have a significant effect on the urine volume without lowering potassium levels.
Watermelon is a fruit that contains almost 93 % water. It is high in potassium and has diuretic properties.
Watermelon contains citrulline, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels and keeps fluids from leaking into tissues and thus reduces water retention.
According to an animal-based study, when rats were given homogenized watermelon juice for four days, it had a significant diuretic effect as compared to other diuretic agents like furosemide (11).
Celery has natural diuretic properties. Eating celery can treat water retention, relieve bloating, and boost digestion.
According to researchers, celery contains phthalides, which contribute to its diuretic effects. The COX-2 inhibitors in celery reduce uric acid levels, which can help to treat gout edema.
13. Bell peppers
Bell peppers have high water content (90%), which helps to avoid water retention. This refreshing vegetable is also a rich source of vitamin B, which is a natural diuretic. So consuming bell peppers helps reduce bloating.
People have used asparagus since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans for its diuretic properties. It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which makes it a natural diuretic. Asparagus can treat swelling, rheumatism, and premenstrual water retention.
The distinct smell of urine that comes after eating asparagus is due to the asparagsic acid, which breaks down into a sulfur-containing compound during digestion.
According to a 2014 study, asparagus shows diuretic activity in mice without acute toxicity (12).
Cucumbers have high water content, and they also contain caffeic acid, which helps to prevent water retention in the body. Cucumbers also contain sulfur and silicon, which help in flushing out uric acid from the kidney. Cucumbers are high in potassium and low in sodium, which helps inhibit the production of nitric acid and inflammatory enzymes.
Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur-based chemical that is known for its strong smell and medicinal properties. Allicin regulates the levels of salt and water in the body, supports kidney function and regulates metabolism. According to the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, garlic is useful as a diuretic.
Cabbage is high in water content, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium, which provide it powerful diuretic properties. These nutrients in cabbage help in eliminating excess water and prevent bloating.
Cabbage also contains anthocyanins which provide it with anti-inflammatory properties.
Cranberry juice has diuretic properties, and it is especially useful in removing fluids from the body without eliminating potassium. This juice is used by women to prevent and treat UTIs as urinating helps push bacteria out of the body.
Cranberries also contain proanthocyanidins, which have been linked to a reduction of UTI-causing E. coli bacteria.
Grapes are rich in potassium, which helps keep a balance of the level of sodium in the body by stimulating the kidneys to produce more urine. Grapes have high water content, and they are rich in fiber.
Alcohol is also a diuretic as it increases urine output. However, we must always consume alcohol in moderation, as it can lead to many adverse effects.
Risks and side effects
Using natural foods like watermelon, parsley, celery, or garlic is considered safe. However, using supplements are not regulated and may cause some side effects. You must always consult your doctor before taking any diuretic in the form of a supplement, especially if you are already taking a prescribed diuretic.
Diuretics do not help in weight loss. Any weight that you may lose will return when your body rehydrates. To lose weight, you must eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Natural diuretics are not as effective in lowering high blood pressure as prescribed diuretics.
Diuretics are substances that increase the amount of salt and water expelled from the body as urine. Also known as water pills, diuretics can lead to side effects like muscle pain and cramps, weakness, hypotension, high blood sugar, and dizziness.
Natural diuretics, on the other hand, mimic the effects of the diuretics without causing any side effects. These natural diuretics like dandelion, hibiscus, green tea, coffee, watermelon, and cabbage can be eaten in the form of food, taken as supplements or consumed in the form of teas. While natural diuretics are considered safe for use, they can not be a substitute for medications provided by your doctor for certain conditions like high blood pressure.