You’ll be surprised to see how many foods and medicinal herbs are natural diuretics. They may help you detox, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, prevent kidney stones, and more. However, most of them aren’t backed up by solid clinical evidence. This article reveals ways to combat mild water retention safely and naturally.
What Is a Diuretic?
This excess water is called water retention. It can leave you feeling “puffy” and cause swollen ankles, hands, and feet (edema) .
Natural Diuretics and Water Retention
Various factors can cause water retention, including some underlying health conditions such as kidney and heart diseases. If you experience sudden and severe water retention, seek medical advice from your doctor immediately [3, 4].
However, lots of people have issues with mild water retention due to hormonal changes or extended periods of sitting, e.g. during a flight. Natural diuretics can come handy in such cases, but their potential uses don’t end there (see “Uses and Benefits” below) [5, 6].
DIURETIC HERBS AND SPICES:
General Ways to Combat Water Retention
- Get more magnesium: Magnesium maintains optimal electrolyte balance and may relieve water retention, especially for women in PMS [7, 8].
- Exercise: When you work out, your body spends more water and gets rid of the excess through sweating .
- Cut back on salt: High intake of table salt (sodium) promotes fluid retention [10, 11].
Uses and Benefits of Natural Diuretics
- Natural diuretics don’t treat medical conditions.
- You should seek immediate medical care in cases of sudden water retention.
- Always consult with your doctor before taking a diuretic herb or supplement.
- Don’t quit your medications or adjust doses on your own.
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Water retention due to heart or liver failure
- Short-term weight loss in sports (“water weight”)
- Additional treatment for UTIs
While severe conditions require medical care, many people rely on natural diuretics for milder forms of high blood pressure, swelling (edema), and UTIs.
Diuretic drugs enhance kidney function, but some of them may provoke kidney stones by impairing mineral balance. On the other hand, natural diuretics may prevent kidney stones and preserve essential minerals such as potassium [19, 20, 21].
Your kidneys are second only to your liver when it comes to detox. Since they filter your blood a remarkable 60 times a day, they might even be more important. Natural diuretics support the kidneys’ main detox mechanism, urination, which helps flush toxins from your body .
Those seeking to lose “water weight“ often reach out for diuretic herbs and supplements, but their effect is temporary and doesn’t contribute to actual weight loss.
Best Natural Diuretics
Preliminary research points to some amazing natural diuretics, but the level of evidence remains low. The following studies should encourage further investigation before we make any definite conclusions. Remember to speak with a doctor before taking any of the herbs and supplements discussed below. They can not replace medical treatment for any health condition.
1) Black Cumin (Nigella sativa)
Black cumin seed extract (200-400 mg daily for 2 months) lowered mildly high blood pressure in 120 men. The extract also slightly dropped high blood pressure In 76 older people (at 600 mg/day) [13, 24].
A meta-analysis of 11 clinical trials confirmed that black cumin lowers blood pressure, with the extract being more effective than oil .
Find high-quality black cumin oil or simply use the crushed seeds. As a spice, black cumin is a great addition to many dishes.
2) Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
In a clinical trial on 80 people, roselle tea was more effective than hydrochlorothiazide (25 mg/day) at lowering slightly high blood pressure. The tea didn’t cause sodium, potassium, or chloride imbalance. They used about 10 g of the herb/day in tea (for a 150 lbs person) .
In rats and rabbits, the combination of roselle extract with hydrochlorothiazide enhanced urination and prevented sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate loss. But it also slowed down hydrochlorothiazide elimination so the combination may not be safe .
Although supplements are available, the simplest way to get the benefits of roselle is to drink roselle tea.
3) Horsetail (Equisetum spp.)
Horsetail has a long history of use as a natural diuretic.
In a clinical trial on 25 healthy people, the extract of the Andean horsetail (0.75 g/day for 2 days) had diuretic effects. It slightly enhanced sodium, potassium, and chloride flushing .
One clinical trial tested field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) extract (900 mg/day) on 36 healthy men. It had the same diuretic effect as hydrochlorothiazide (25 mg) but a much lower risk of causing potassium and sodium deficits .
In a study on rats, the extracts of four different Mexican horsetail species were as effective as hydrochlorothiazide and had a similar mechanism of action .
Standardized horsetail extracts are available, while drinking tea will offer you milder benefits.
Caution: People with HIV should avoid horsetail since it blocked the effects of anti-HIV drug combinations (lamivudine/zidovudine/efavirenz and emtricitabine/tenofovir) in two cases .
4) Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion leaf extract (8 mL, 3x/day) enhanced urination in a clinical trial on 17 people .
The dried root can be used in tea, while tinctures and extracts are also widely available.
Many people wonder if coffee is a diuretic. Technically speaking, yes: the caffeine in coffee is a natural diuretic that binds to adenosine receptors. This effect prevents the kidneys from taking up sodium and enhances water and sodium elimination [49, 50].
One cup of coffee will contain ~50-80 mg of caffeine. The levels depend on the coffee variety and preparation method .
That said, 4 cups of coffee per day (~320 mg) had no effect on water balance in a clinical trial on 52 regular coffee drinkers. But the well-known fact is that people develop tolerance to coffee’s diuretic effects over time .
In 10 healthy adults, higher doses of caffeine (540 mg) boosted urination while lower doses (270 mg) failed to produce this effect .
But there’s a major downside. Caffeine can trigger anxiety, insomnia, and other unpleasant side effects in sensitive people or when used at high doses. Plus, people widely differ in how well they break down caffeine or how they react to it. A dose that works for one person may be harmful to another [56, 57, 58].
Animal Research (Lacking Evidence)
7) Black and Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
Green tea may be a safer option than coffee, especially if you’re prone to anxiety. Green tea contains EGCG, which could counteract the stimulant, anxiety-provoking effect of caffeine on the brain .
If you’re not a big fan of its taste, though, standardized extracts and garlic oil are also easy to find.
9) Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley is a well-known diuretic in folk medicine.
Raspberry is bursting with antioxidants that support your kidney health and combat different chronic diseases .
11) Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Ever seen a bottle of drink with juniper berries inside? It’s not just about taste and decoration.
A 10% infusion (tea) of juniper berries enhanced urination in a study on rats .
12) Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
This delicious spice has countless potential benefits and uses in traditional medicine, including water retention and kidney stone treatment .
Aside from using it as a spice, numerous oregano supplements exist. Oregano essential oil is rich in active compounds; it can be used in liquid form, while softgels are a better option for those who want to avoid its strong aroma.
13) Caraway (Carum carvi)
Traditional uses of caraway include high blood pressure, water retention, and digestive disorders .
In rats, caraway extract was as effective as a diuretic drug (furosemide) at boosting urination .
14) Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
In rats, hawthorn flavonoids (procyanidins) cut the blood levels of uric acid, which may cause gout. They increased urinary sodium flush (4.8 times) and urine flow (2.6 times), lowering the risk of kidney stones .
- Kidney beans
How to Take Natural Diuretics & Dosage
The doses below used in clinical trials may not apply to you personally. If your doctor suggests using a natural diuretic, work with them to find the optimal dosage according to your health condition, potential drug interactions, and other factors.
- Roselle tea: 150 mg/kg daily 
- Horsetail extract: 750-900 mg daily [42, 43]
- Black cumin seed extract: 200-600 mg daily [13, 24]
- Dandelion leaf extract: 24 ml daily 
- Coffee and tea: 300-540 mg of caffeine daily [52, 55]
Most natural diuretics are available as supplements, alone or in different combinations. For everyday consumption, you can prepare teas with diuretic herbs and dishes with diuretic foods and spices.
Natural diuretics enhance urination without disturbing your mineral balance. They may help reduce blood pressure, prevent kidney stones, relieve mild swelling, and support the treatment of UTIs. Still, none of them should be used instead of medical treatment for any condition.
Diuretic herbs and spices include roselle, horsetail, black cumin, dandelion, parsley, and oregano. People can take them as teas and supplements or use them in cooking.
Raspberry, pomegranate, garlic, and melons are diuretic foods that may help remove excess water. Caffeinated drinks and potassium-rich foods – beans, lentils, bananas, potatoes – may also contribute.
To ensure optimal kidney health, you should exercise regularly, stay hydrated, and limit the intake of table salt. Magnesium supplements may combat water retention in PMS. Seek medical help if you experience sudden water retention and consult your doctor before supplementing.