About Natural Diuretics
Natural diuretics are generally used to treat edema (fluid retention) and high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. It can also be used to assist in the treatment of mild to moderate high blood pressure where a low salt (sodium) diet is prescribed and when a diuretic is suggested. Natural food/herb based diuretics can be used in some situation to replace diuretic medication especially when benign or harmless fluid retention or mild high blood pressure is a problem. It can also be used as a dietary adjunct when moderate to severe edema or high blood pressure exists to further improve effects that may not be covered by medications.
Since water is the very best diuretic we always suggest drinking a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 10, 8 ounce glasses of water to help reduce edema, swelling of the hands an/or feet and to treat dehydration a common cause of swelling during hot weather.
The most common causes of edema are dehydration and allergies however, since there can always be a more serious disorders involved, such as the kidney, bladder, heart, or liver problems all individuals with edema should first see a medical doctor to rule these problems out. Edema occurs where there is an accumulation of fluid in spaces between the cells and tissues of the body. It may affect all parts of the body although it commonly occurs as swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs. The bloating and swelling created by edema may causes discomfort, enlargement of the feet, toes, legs, hands, fingers, areas around the outer parts of the eyes and event the cornea of the eye. It can in moderate situation cause muscle aches and pains, unpleasant and even unsightly distortion of the toes, feet, legs, hands, fingers and face.
Whole Foods Medicinal Benefits for Edema
Adzuki bean or mung bean
Dandelion (the French name for the dandelion is pissenlit, or "urinate in bed"
Uva ursi also known as barberry (bearberry)
- Caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, Mountain Dew)
Tea (including black, oolong and green tea, not herbal teas)
- Potassium (Oranges and bananas are well-known as potassium-rich foods; less well known, but high in potassium are milk, yogurt, bran cereal, potatoes, cooked dry beans, peaches, apricots, rhubarb, pumpkin seeds, salmon, flounder, cod, banana, beets, bok choy, bran, pineapple.)
- Vitamin-Mineral Support*
- Bromelain - enzyme for better digestion and metabolism.
- Calcium, magnesium, zinc complex - to replace minerals lost when counteracting edema.
- Kelp - improves thyroid function and supplies needed minerals.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids - improved adrenal function vital to fluid balance.
- Vitamin E - aids circulation.
- Vitamin B complex - reduces water retention.
- See text above regarding calcium, magnesium and B vitamins
Herbs with Diuretic Effects
Herbs are foods that have medicinal value, they can be a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, it is important to ascertain a diagnosis before pursuing treatment. Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. of the herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups/day. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted.
A general diuretic should contain herbs that support circulation and lymphatic drainage. They are best administered in a cooled tea (four to six cups/day), although a tincture may also be used (30-60 drops q.i.d.).
Drinking the tea cool will support circulation and lymphatic drainage without increasing vasodilation. Combine three of these herbs with equal parts of two to three additional herbs from the following categories, as indicated: cleavers (Gallium aparine), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), oatstraw (Avena sativa), elder (Sambucus canadensis), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and red root (Ceonothus americanus). See additional list below.
Herbs Commonly Use To Treat Cyclic Edema and Idiopathic Orthostatic Edema:
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) strengthens the integrity of the blood vessels and its use has improved cyclical edema associated with hormonal changes.
- Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a gentle diuretic as well as a tonic for the blood vessels.
- Topical applications of creams containing one or more of the following may be helpful in increasing vascular integrity in orthostatic edema: horse chestnut(Aesculus hippocastanum), butcher's broom (Ruscus asuleatus), sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis), and rue (Ruta graveolens).
Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale)
Herbs Commonly Used to Treat Edema and High Blood Pressure:
- The French name for the dandelion is pissenlit, or "urinate in bed"
- Dandelion leaf has been used for hundreds of years as a diuretic.
- The flushing effect of powerful natural diuretics can heighten the loss of potassium from the body. This can aggravate a number of conditions, including cardiovascular problems. Because dandelion is an excellent natural source of potassium, it makes a well-balanced, safe diuretic that may be used even in cases where water is retained due to heart problems.
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi)
- Bearberry is one of the most often prescribed urinary tract herbs by professional herbalists in North America and Europe, and it is approved in Germany for use by medical doctors in the treatment of bladder infections. Recorded use dates back to the thirteenth century by the Welsh 'Physicians of Myddfai'.
- The chief constituent of bearberry leaves is a crystallizable glucoside named Arbutin.
- Arbutin is broken down in the body and transformed into an antimicrobial substance that is excreted in the urine. This antibiotic-like substance passes with the urine directly to the site of the bladder infection - right where it is most useful.
- The urinary health benefits of bearberry strengthen the synergy of this diuretic formula.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
- Horsetail is a traditional astringent herb for the genitourinary system (an astringent is an agent which contracts tissue, reducing secretions or discharges).
- It is often used with conditions like urethritis or cystitis with hematuria (blood in the urine).
- As a diuretic it is often used with metabolic or hormonal oedema during menopause.
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
- Cleavers is reliably used to treat urinary problems and stimulate the lymphatic system. It can be quite effective as a diuretic, an anti-inflammatory, a tonic, an astringent and a blood purifier/alterative (a herb that gradually restores proper body function and increases health and vitality).
- The body relies on the lymphatic system to drain away toxins and wastes. So these cleansing and settling properties make Cleavers a great addition to these effective and well balanced diuretic water pills.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
- The ancient Greeks valued parsley seeds and roots for their soothing diuretic effect on those with kidney and bladder aliments. Today parsley is still used primarily as a diuretic, often to ease the bloating that some women experience before their periods.
- Parsley is an excellent source of iron (as well as other vitamins and minerals), which is important for the proper formation of red blood cells, potassium and vitamin C. Because some potassium is often lost through diuresis, this iron content helps to balance these water retention pills.
Cornsilk (Zea mays)
- Cornsilk is commonly used for oedema in Chinese medicine. It is considered part of a family of herbs which help soothe and heal the urinary system.
- Herbalists often recommend cornsilk to help ease inflammation and painful symptoms caused by urinary tract infections, cystitis, bladder stones, premenstrual syndrome and fluid retention.
- As a soothing diuretic, cornsilk is a useful remedy in any irritation of the urinary system. It is used for renal problems in children and is often combined with other herbs for relief from cystitis, urethritis and prostatitis.
Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus)
- The use of cranberries as a diuretic has been recorded as far back as 1787 in a Latin work on American medicinal plants. A woman with dropsy was reported cured by eating large quantities of cranberries.
- One more recent study involving cranberry reported that most subjects showed considerable improvement in the quantity of urinary bacteria after drinking a cranberry juice cocktail every day. The researchers thought the benefits of cranberry are due to a poorly understood chemical with the ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder.
- Current research suggests that cranberries contain a nondialyzable polymeric compound of an unknown nature.
- Researchers think this compound adheres to the tiny hairs on the surface of certain bacteria. This would prevent them from implanting in the walls of the gut or the bladder, and simply flush them out of the body via the urine, resulting in an antibacterial effect.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
- Not only one of the most popular, but also one of the most studied and proven herbs. Echinacea purpurea is best known for its power to stimulate the immune system. And it is commonly used to help attack a variety of infections, including those of the urinary tract.
- This powerful healing herb can help relieve the pain and burning sensations associated with cystitis.
- Note that the inclusion of Cranberry and Echinacea can help maintain a healthy balance of micro organisms in the urinary system. The antimicrobial action, combined with urinary 'flushing' from the increased fluid output may be of assistance to those who suffer repeated cystitis infections.
Juniper Berry Oil
- Juniper berry oil is primarily used in the treatment of urinary tract infections such as cystitis and urethritis. It contains an antiseptic volatile oil which can help provide relief to the urinary tract as it passes through.
- This action is enhanced by a diuretic effect which can help to dilute the urine. The volatile oil component, terpinen-4-ol, may also help to increase the glomerular filtration rate of the kidneys (the rate at which the drainage tubes in the kidney are working).
- This makes juniper berry oil a valuable addition to this efficient and hard working formula.
- Buchu Leaf is also known by the names Bucco and Diosma. Native to South Africa, the word Buchu is from the Hottentot word for the plant, bookoo. The two primary species of Buchu used commercially are Agathosma betulina (synonym for Barosma betulina) and Agathosma crenulata (synonym for Barosma crenultata).
- Potassium is an important mineral required for your body to function normally. Because the usual effect of any diuretic can be to diminish your body's potassium reserves, this formula includes potassium to counter this effect.
Other Herbs Suggested for Treatment of High Blood Pressure:
- Cat's Whiskers
- (Orthosiphon stamineus or Misai Kucing) te “purple” and “white”version and also known as Java tea is used to treat diabetes, kidney and urinary disorders, high blood pressure and bone or muscular pain.
- The brewing of Java tea is similar to that for other teas. It is soaked in hot boiling water for about three minutes, before being added with honey or milk. It can be easily prepared as garden tea from the dried leaves.
- “Goji Berry is mostly used to treat kidney, liver, eye, and skin problems, diabetes, tuberculosis, anxiety, and insomnia.
- It also helps to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They are known to improve the state of health, strengthen the immune system and increasing the longevity and vitality of the human kind”.
- Salvia is the deep root of the Chinese sage plant. It is applied in cases where the body tissues have been damaged by disease or injury.. It is best known for its ability to promote circulation in the capillary beds or the microcirculation system. It also lowers blood pressure, helps reduce cholesterol and enhances functions of the liver. Salvia can be taken alone or consumed with other herbs, teas or pills”.
- Also known as Achillea millefolium. The aerial parts act as a tonic for the blood, stimulate the circulation, and can be used for high blood pressure
- Acanthopanax gracilistylus. Aids digestion, cures hepatitis C, lowers blood pressure, increases stamina.
- Shilajit is used in the Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. Shilajit is a rasayana herb
- It is said to be beneficial to the general good health, strengthen the immune system, arthritis, high blood pressure, anti-aging, controlling blood sugar levels and improve brain function, obesity, bone healing, kidney diseases, urinary tract problems and injury healing.
Herbs Used to Treat Specific Types of Problems
Use caution in administering diuretics with renal failure. Herbal options include parsley (Petrosilinum crispum), dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinalis), buchu (Barosma betulina), couchgrass (Agropyron repens), horsetail (Euquisetum arvense), and goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea)
Cardiac and/or Pulmonary Involvement:
Hawthorn(Crataegus oxyacantha),motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca), rosemary(Rosemariana officinalis), and linden (Tilia cordata) Lily of the valley(Convalleria majalus), night blooming cereus; (Cactus grandiflorus), and broom (Sarothamnus scoparius) have toxic side effects but may be added to the cardiopulmonary formula under physician supervision
Cyclic Edema and Idiopathic Orthostatic Edema:
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) strengthens the integrity of the blood vessels and its use has improved cyclical edema associated with hormonal changes.
Bilberry(Vaccinium myrtillus) is a gentle diuretic as well as a tonic for the blood vessels.
Topical applications of creams containing one or more of the following may be helpful in increasing vascular integrity in orthostatic edema: horse chestnut(Aesculus hippocastanum), butcher's broom(Ruscus asuleatus), sweet clover(Melilotus officinalis), and rue(Ruta graveolens).
Liver Involvement (May Be Used in Conjunction with Treatment For:
Cyclic edema) may respond to milk thistle (Silybum marianum), dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis), turmeric (Curcuma longa), and artichoke leaves (Cynara scolymus)
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