Herbal diuretics are herbs that are used to help reduce the amount of water in the body as part of a treatment plan for people who have high blood pressure, heart problems, and certain kidney diseases. They can be used along with or in place of drugs prescribed by a doctor, although any use of herbal diuretics should always be under the supervision of a physician or natural practitioner. Natural herbal diuretics also have an added advantage over some other medications because there are few, if any, side effects.
Common herbal diuretics include dandelion, considered by many to be the best herbal diuretic because it is easy on the system and does not deplete the system of potassium. Other choices include chicory, fennel, and mint. Many of these herbs can be grown in a home garden and used in teas or eaten raw; however, dosage may be difficult to gauge. Most diuretic herbal teas are mild and relatively safe for occasional use, as long as proper precautions are observed.
Some people use herbal diuretics for weight loss. They are available as an herbal tea diuretic, and are a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter weight loss formulas on the market. They should be used cautiously, however, as losing water weight is not actually weight loss, and passing too much water in the form of urine can deplete the system of potassium. This can also lead to a serious electrolyte imbalance which may affect heart problems.
Another danger of using herbal diuretics is the fact the strength and preparation of the herbs are not regulated or standardized. This means the dosage in each form is different, and care must be taken in choosing and using an herbal diuretic tea for medicinal purposes. It is advisable to check the label and to be careful of where the product is manufactured, as some countries strictly regulate production but others do not.
Additionally, some herbs can interact with other medications, such as blood pressure drugs or blood thinners, and cause a serious reaction. Allergies to certain herbs may be present and also cause problems. People who are breast feeding or anticipating surgery should check with their doctor before taking any herbal supplement, including diuretic herbal teas.
There are few herbal diuretics side effects, but nausea and diarrhea can occur on occasion. If too much is taken, dehydration or a lowering of blood volume could result, which can affect blood pressure. Many herbal diuretic teas are mild enough to be used along with prescription diuretics, as long as their use is monitored by a healthcare professional.