Substances that augment "diuresis," or the removal of fluids from the body through urination, are considered diuretics. More commonly known as "water pills," diuretics may be prescription or over the counter drugs. They may also be homeopathic remedies or foods that help to prevent or treat fluid retention. It is best to consult with a health care professional before using any form of these drugs.
Diuretics are used for many reasons. They may be indicated for people who suffer from edema, an intense accumulation of fluids in the body's tissues, and those who suffer from high blood pressure or other heart related diseases. Increasing the production of urine not only releases fluid, but also helps rid the body of excess salts and may reduce blood volume.
Some people use water pills as a weight loss aid, usually when a large amount of weight needs to be lost in a short amount of time. The fact is that diuretics are not proven to promote the loss of fat; they simply remove retained fluid. While the scale may show the loss of a few pounds, it is a temporary loss. This is not a healthy way to lose weight. Abusing water pills can lead to dehydration and sometimes severe potassium deficiencies, which can be dangerous.
For those who only require minimal fluid reduction, and have no real health concerns, foods with natural diuretic properties may be a better alternative than water pills. Some foods that contain natural diuretics are cranberries and cranberry juice, coffee and other beverages that contain caffeine, and apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar also contains potassium, so it may help avoid potassium deficiency. Still, it should be used sparingly. Adding fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, watermelon and others that contain a lot of water will also help increase urination.
Natural diuretics should also be used in moderation, and even though they may be healthier than taking water pills, you shouldn't overdo it. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any new regimen, and that includes taking natural remedies, taking over the counter medications, and even using foods to treat medical problems.
Choosing appropriate over-the-counter diuretics depends a great deal upon overall health history, the condition for which one hopes to obtain relief, and any other current conditions or treatments being undergone. While these products are generally considered safe when used appropriately, there is still the risk of side effects as well as adverse interactions with other drugs being taken. Consult with a health-care professional before taking any medication, including over-the-counter diuretics or natural diuretics.
For mild, occasional water retention, foods with diuretic properties such as celery or cranberries may be all that is needed. Foods and beverages that contain caffeine also have diuretic properties. For greater relief, a natural fluid reduction supplement or over-the-counter diuretics may be indicated. There are various types, brands, and strengths of these products from which to choose.
Keep in mind that using even an over-the-counter diuretic may result in potassium depletion. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about potassium-sparing diuretics. Be aware that overuse of diuretics can also cause dehydration.
While over-the-counter diuretics for water retention are sometimes used to drop a few pounds quickly, they are not generally recommended for weight loss. They do not remove body fat, only water weight, which is not permanent weight loss. They also tend to be abused, increasing health risks. The better alternative would be to incorporate lower doses of natural diuretics or foods with diuretic elements into one’s diet over time.
It is wise to thoroughly read labels on such products as well. The instructions and dosage should be followed precisely. Compare labels to evaluate the types and amounts of active ingredients in each product. A store brand or generic over-the-counter diuretic may offer comparable quality and efficiency to the national brand, at a lower price.
Do not forget to look at the inactive ingredients as well; doing so can help one choose over-the-counter diuretics if there are any ingredients that are likely to cause an allergic reaction. Check for any potential side effects. When comparing labels, it also makes sense to choose a product that offers a contact number, which can be called toll free to ask questions or share concerns.
Note that a fast acting product may be best used when one intends to stay at home or has good access to a restroom, as trips will be more frequent. After all, the idea behind using diuretics is to remove fluid from the body by way of increased urination. If it is not possible to stay at home or use the restroom frequently, less potent over-the-counter diuretics should be chosen.