Herbal medicines as diuretics: a review of the scientific evidence

J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Oct 8;114(1):1-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2007.07.023. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


There is increasing interest in the health and wellness benefits of herbs and botanicals. This is with good reason as they might offer a natural safeguard against the development of certain conditions and be a putative treatment for some diseases. One such area may be the lowering of blood pressure in those where it is elevated (i.e., hypertension). One class of clinical medicines used to lower blood pressure are known as diuretics and work by increasing the excretion of urine from the body as well as the amount of sodium in urine. There are a growing number of studies purporting diuretic effects with traditional medicines. The aim of this article was to review these studies and identify which extracts promote diuresis (which we assessed on terms of urine excreted and urinary sodium excretion) and also to identify the research needs in this area. We identified a number of species and genuses reporting diuretic effects. Of these, the most promising, at the present time, are the species Foeniculum vulgare, Fraxinus excelsior, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Petroselinum sativum and Spergularia purpurea, and species from the genuses Cucumis (Cucumis melo and Cucumis trigonus), Equisetum (Equisetum bogotense, Equisetum fluviatile, Equisetum giganteum, Equisetum hiemale var. affine and Equisetum myriochaetum), Lepidium (Lepidium latifolium and Lepidium sativum), Phyllanthus (Phyllanthus amarus, Phyllanthus corcovadensis and Phyllanthus sellowianus) and Sambucus (Sambucus mexicana and Sambucus nigra). However, there the number of studies is limited and we recommend that further studies be conducted to confirm reported effects. Such evidence is needed to provide scientific credence to the folklore use of traditional medicines and even be helpful in the development of future medicines, treatments and treatment guidelines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diuretics / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*


  • Diuretics
  • Plant Extracts