Diuretics refer to substances that facilitate ridding the body of excess fluids and salt. Diuretics work by making the kidneys excrete more sodium in the urine, which causes an increase in water accumulation to concentrate the sodium levels, resulting in urine formation and elimination. Various herbs, foods and beverages offer a natural diuretic effect; however, they should be used with caution, in the event of unknown medical conditions with fluid retention as a symptom, or due to side effects with other medications. Consult with your physician prior to using diuretics.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, celery and cucumbers are natural diuretics and increase urine output. However, it is important to incorporate bananas into your daily diet to prevent loss of too much potassium from your diet.
Drink 1 cup of coffee a day. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee contain natural diuretics. If you're using diuretics for weight loss, 1 cup a day will stimulate urine output and help suppress your appetite. Do not drink excessive amounts of coffee, as this will cause rapid heart rate and possible dehydration. For safety, check with your physician about using small amounts of caffeine daily.
Add dandelion to your diet in salads or tea. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes that dandelion is useful as a natural diuretic, with rare side effects of upset stomach and diarrhea. Dandelion leaves added to your salad or seeped in tea can stimulate urine production and reduce water retention. Do not use dandelion if you have existing gall bladder or bile duct conditions.
Drink 8 glasses of water daily. Water is not a natural diuretic; however, drinking 8 glasses a day can aid in the safe use of natural diuretics by flushing the digestive system.
Things You'll Need
Cranberries, asparagus and artichokes are also natural diuretics. Manage your sodium intake, as this can increase fluid retention and swelling.
Do not use dandelion if you are allergic to ragweed or related plants, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Using diuretics as the only form of weight loss is not recommended, and physician consultation is suggested to determine best options. Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid and kidney diseases, cause fluid retention and swelling. In some cases, natural diuretics are warranted for treating minor swelling of the limbs; however, this is only determined by medical evaluation.