Diuretics are commonly known because they are a large class of pharmaceutical drugs used for treating blood pressure most often. While they do have other uses, herbal diuretics are not generally used for blood pressure. Diuretics are medicines that increase urination. When urination is drastically increased the fluid content of the blood goes down, leading to lower blood pressure. This can cause a variety of problems if prolonged.
As herbalists, we are not keen on lowering blood pressure through diuretics. Other herbs can be used for more effective long term blood pressure lowering effects. Diuretics however can be great for supporting a variety of other kidney and liver related issues. This is due to the cleansing effect of diuretics, flushing out a variety of molecules from these organs with the extra fluid flow. This can be an excellent action to help aid with clearing stones from the urinary system but these herbs should not be used alone for this. Urinary tract infections also can be supported with diuretic herbs.
This plant from the mint family is not only a diuretic but is also diaphoretic. It’s name suggests it’s actions on the kidneys and gallbladder. It is a stronger diuretic than others and can really help to pass small stones. With the stronger diuretic action it is important to maintain hydration when using stone root.
This plant is most commonly used to treat kidney stones and urinary tract infections, as you may assume from it’s name. It may also play into treating gout with its actions to remove uric acid. Removing uric acid and other irritating molecules may play into gravel root’s actions for rheumatism and various other body related pains. This plant is in the aster family and should be used cautiously by individuals allergic to plants of this family.
Hawthorn is an herb that I like to use frequently for a variety of body fluid related challenges. I often think of hawthorn as a true blood and heart tonic, improving circulation through the heart, and even relieving low oxygen levels of the blood. This is one of the diuretic herbs that can be beneficial directly at lowering blood pressure, specifically through its actions on the cardiovascular system rather than through the kidneys. Cautions need to be taken when using hawthorn with cardiovascular drugs as it can act as a synergist.
Ah, my favorite diaphoretic for last. Dandelion, which most of you can probably identify, is in the aster family just like gravel root. Most of dandelion’s diuretic actions come from it’s leaf and it’s action is strong. Dandelion does not have the same detrimental effects as most strong diuretic pharmaceuticals because rather than depleting potassium, dandelion leaf is a high source of potassium. This diuretic action is best used for water retention and swelling rather than high blood pressure. The common liver detoxification actions of dandelion root are also found from the leaf but not to the same extent.
For more information on herbal actions such as demulcent herbs, please consult the book “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffmann. If you are interested in using these and other herbs on a daily basis, please consult with a professional herbalist.