If you have a history of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, or high blood pressure levels, you may already be taking a diuretic such as indapamide (Lozol) or furosemide (Lasix).
These agents help to promote healthy blood pressure indirectly by increasing urine output, which clears excess fluid from the body and lungs. Unfortunately, increased urination also promotes excretion of more than the usual amount of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and water—all of which are vital for enzymatic processes throughout the body.
As many as 40 percent of adults over age 65 are taking diuretics; some folks have been taken them for many years. However, I don’t like diuretics as a long-term approach to treating heart failure, and a number of small studies have indicated that their continuous use may be potentially harmful.
I have the same concern about the conventional treatment of hypertension, in which diuretics are used to reduce the amount of fluid flowing through the blood vessels and, thus, the pressure against the arterial walls. I believe that such long-term use will be increasingly challenged and eventually discouraged because of the mineral-wasting risks. Many other cardiologists and holistic health practitioners agree.
Potential side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps
- Gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea)
If you take diuretics, especially Lasix or Bumex, it’s imperative that you supplement with magnesium (400–800 mg/day) and potassium (99 mg three times/day). Because the amount of potassium you can get in a supplement is limited, I also recommend that you eat potassium-rich foods such as raisins, prunes, apricots, papaya, dates, avocados, bananas, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, beets, greens, spinach, peas, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked potato, beans, peas, turkey, fish, and chicken.
For people with heart failure, there are no alternatives to standard, conventional diuretics. For those with mild water retention, I would consider the following alternatives:
- Drink ginger tea daily.
- Take uva ursi extract, 100–200 mg daily. This herb is from the bearberry evergreen shrub. The active compound in uva ursi is arbutin, which increases the excretory power of the kidney.