Water retention or fluid retention, also known as edema, is the accumulation of fluid in spaces between the cells in the soft tissue of the body. This can occur anywhere in the body but, because of gravity, often appears in the feet, ankles, and legs. Natural diuretics are food, herbs, or minerals that increase urine flow and aid in removing excess fluids from the body, thereby alleviating the swelling or puffiness that accompanies water retention. Some naturalists encourage flushing out the kidneys and bladder as a part of natural healing that is not restricted to the correction of edema.
Several cautionary notes are in order if you are considering the use of natural diuretics. First, water retention or edema can simply accompany normal hormone fluctuations associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. However, water retention can also signify serious medical issues, such as kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid malfunction, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure. Unless normal hormonal fluctuation, or a minor trauma to the body, is the obvious underlying cause of water retention, you should consult a medical professional to determine the cause before you try addressing the symptom on your own using natural diuretics.
Second, using diuretics can drain your body of needed vitamins and minerals, so you may want to consider using supplements as well, particularly potassium. For this reason, you should not use natural diuretics simply as a weight loss aid. In addition, you will regain any weight you lose through using diuretics when you discontinue their use.
Foods that are Natural Diuretics
You should first note that some foods actually cause the body to retain water and you should avoid or drastically reduce their use. These foods include salt, sugar, processed foods, and complex carbohydrates. Inadequate consumption of protein can also cause fluid retention as can drinking beverages containing caffeine and alcohol.
Foods that are natural diuretics should be eaten in moderation, and increase the amount of water that you drink. When water retention caused by hormonal fluctuation or minor trauma is a problem for you, try adding some of the following foods and beverages to your diet to address this symptom:
- Apple juice (stimulates kidneys and liver)
- Bananas (also a good source of potassium)
- Brussels sprouts
- Cranberry juice
- Green tea
Especially consider these natural diuretic powerhouse foods to include in food dishes or eat separately:
- Onions (raw)
- Parsley (especially powerful and packed with vitamins)
Herbs that are Natural Diuretics
Some herbs are especially potent natural diuretics, especially when made into teas (try one teaspoon of herb for every cup of hot water). These include:
- Butcher’s Broom
- Stinging Nettle
You should especially consider Dandelion and Hawthorn. Dandelion leaves cleanse the bloodstream and liver, and help improve kidney and spleen functioning. In addition, dandelion is packed with vitamins A, C, D, and B complex, as well as minerals, especially potassium, an important consideration for those using natural diuretics. Hawthorn has natural diuretic properties, contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C, as well as calcium, chromium, magnesium, and potassium, and helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.