Fluid retention is a common problem affecting many today because of various reasons. While severe persistent retention will require medical attention, mild and short-lived one can be relieved by using diuretics.

Diuretics are foods, drinks, and supplements taken to encourage the body to eliminate excess fluids from the body. They target sodium ions which, when removed through urine, trigger the body to release excess water, hence easing fluid retention. This especially works when a long flight makes the body to accumulate fluids, resulting in swollen legs and body parts. However, persistent water retention can be caused by old age or underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney stones, kidney failure, and many more. Treat this article as a primer and use it to learn more about the drinks that would make good diuretics to relieve mild retention.

1.      Dandelion extract

While dandelion has been technically understood as a weed, its extract forms one of the best diuretics, explaining why its intake has increased nowadays. This plant also called the ‘lion’s tooth,’ is rich in potassium; hence the diuretic properties. The potassium ions balance osmosis, sending the kidney signals to flush out excess sodium ions. While this happens, the body also releases excess water, easing fluid retention. Most foods people take today are high in sodium and low on potassium, causing retention; hence the need to include potassium-rich foods in their diet. While theory has a lot to say about the diuretic effects of potassium in dandelion, the results are varied, and only one study has confirmed that the extract indeed helps flush out excess water and sodium ions.

2.      Coffee

Being a caffeinated drink, coffee is popular for its stimulating effects. However, studies reveal that it could make a good diuretic, especially on those who don’t drink it regularly. A normal 230ml cup of coffee has 102-135mg of caffeine. Taking two of these (200-250mg caffeine) may have a diuretic effect on the partaker, encouraging the kidney to eliminate excess water and sodium ions. What’s challenging about coffee is that the more you drink it, the more your body gets used to its diuretic effect. Therefore, it may not encourage the body to release excess water after all.

3.      Black and green tea

Tea, whether black or green, is rich in caffeine and should portray diuretic properties like coffee. However, a person who regularly drinks tea might not find it effective for urination and eliminating excess water and sodium ions. Therefore, it will only work for you if you drink tea, but only occasionally.

4.      Caraway

Also called the Persian cumin or the meridian fennel, caraway forms a great spice for cooking. The baking industry also appreciates caraway, especially because it forms a wonderful ingredient while baking cakes, desserts, and cookies. Besides its value in the kitchen, caraway has diuretic properties and could encourage the body to release excess water and sodium ions. In fact, in Ayurvedic medicine, the meridian fennel was used to relieve headaches and morning sicknesses, although its medical value today has more to do with easing fluid retention. One study found that rats given caraway produced more urine within 24hours. However, more studies are needed before it can be recommended as a diuretic for man.

5.      Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a plant that produces beautiful bright flowers. Some studies link the plant to diuretic properties, especially its parts called calyces which have long been use to make sour tea or roselle. Roselle has incredible health potentials, including heart protection. Some studies also suggest that it could be having diuretic properties. In animals, the tea led to increased urination. However, a study in Thailand found that despite giving participants sour with at least 3g roselle, the urine output did not improve. Therefore, more studies are needed, especially in human beings, to affirm that hibiscus would make a good diuretic.

6.      Diuretic foods

Besides the drinks, some people have found cutting back on sodium-rich foods and working out were rewarding in easing fluid retention. Moreover, eating particular foods with diuretic properties helped eliminate excess sodium and fluids from the body. The list of diuretic foods is endless, and includes celery, watermelon, bell peppers, asparagus, onion, garlic, berries, and grapes.

7.      Horsetail

For decades, horsetail has been used as an antidiuretic. It is prepared from Equisetum arvenseor the field horsetail plant, then availed in capsule or horsetail tea. While horsetail has been widely marketed as a good diuretic, studies have generated mixed results. For instance, one study involving 36 men established that horsetail was effective in removing excess water and sodium ions, and its efficacy could be compared to that of hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic medication.

Still, other studies have not gathered enough evidence that horsetail would help flush out excess water and sodium ions. What’s more, being a natural remedy, the natural ingredients differ from one plant to another, depending on many factors, including growth conditions. Therefore, the effects would also vary. Even though horsetail has been used and marketed for years for its diuretic properties, it’s use is not safe, especially for long-term. Moreover, its effects on people with pre-existing medical conditions might be detrimental, which is why diabetics and people with heart disease should avoid it.

8.      Parsley

The traditional medicine, including Ayurveda, recognizes parsley for its purported medical value. For instance, when brewed as tea, it was believed to help ease water retention. In the contemporary results, few animal results have shown that it can help improve urination, especially in rats. However, no human studies have investigated how effective it would be as a diuretic. Therefore, there is so little to say about it or its appropriate dosage.


Persistent fluid retention requires medical attention, especially if it is caused by an underlying medical condition. However, short-lived, mild retention can be eased by taking diuretics herein discussed. Some of the commonly used diuretics include coffee, green or black tea, parsley, dandelion extract, and hibiscus. For most of these, study results are mixed, necessitating further studies before recommending them for diuretics.

MS, Lund University, Sweden

Nutrition plays an important role in human life. Eating habits are one of the factors that affect our health. There is often a misconception among people that nutritionists force a very restrictive diet, but that is not true. In fact, I don't ban any products, but I point out dietary mistakes and help change them by giving tips and new recipes that I've tried myself. I advise my patients not to resist change and to be purposeful. Only with willpower and determination can a good result be achieved in any area of life, including changing eating habits. When I don't work, I love to go climbing. On a Friday evening, you are most likely to find me on my couch, cuddling with my dog and watching some Netflix.

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