Can natural diuretics reduce fluid retention and help with weight loss?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Some herbs and dietary supplements, such as dandelion, ginger, parsley, hawthorn and juniper, may have a diuretic effect that can help with sodium and water retention. But proceed with caution before you take any supplements.

First, fluid retention can be caused by a number of medical conditions and some medications. So it's important to talk to your doctor about possible causes of fluid retention before trying to treat it yourself. Second, some herbs and supplements can worsen medical problems you have or interact with medications you take.

In theory, natural diuretics may help relieve fluid retention by making you urinate more. But there is little if any scientific evidence of their diuretic effects, so you may not find them effective.

If you're hoping to lose water weight as part of a weight-loss goal, focus instead on eating a healthier diet and getting plenty of exercise and activity — not taking diuretics.

If you're concerned about fluid retention related to menstruation, again you're better off making some simple lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on the salt in your diet.

And always let your doctor know about any dietary or herbal supplements you're considering taking.

Mar. 04, 2015