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Diuretics, also called water pills, cause a person to “lose water.” They are drugs which increase the volume of urine produced by the kidneys, and act on the kidneys to remove excess salt and fluid from the blood. Diuretics reduce excess fluid levels in the body associated with chronic heart failure, high blood pressure (hypertension), certain kidney (renal) or liver (hepatic) disorders, and can be used to treat mild cases of edema (an increase in the volume of fluid in the spaces between the body’s cells). Some diuretics help to make the urine more alkaline, and to increase excretion of substances such as aspirin in cases of overdose or poisoning. Diuretics are often abused by sufferers of eating disorders, especially bulimics, in attempts at weight loss. There are a variety of diuretics with different modes of action, and are available in tablet, capsule, liquid, and injectable forms. Some nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines contain diuretics.

In natural healing, the term diuretic is used more generally for any herb that acts on the kidney or the bladder. The list of diuretics is enormous, but the most effective and valuable diuretic recommended for general use is the root or leaf of dandelion. Whenever a diuretic is prescribed in orthodox medicine, a potassium supplement is added, as chemical diuretics leach potassium, contributing to osteoporosis. Dandelion contains a high level of potassium, so there is an overall gain of it whenever dandelion is used as a diuretic. Cleavers is a more general diuretic worth mentioning as are yarrow, nettle, guarana, and juniper.