What are Diuretics?

Diuretics, or water pills as they are commonly called are typically herbal based products designed to reduce water retention. This type of product falls into the weight loss category and can be used by anyone trying to get that ripped look as well as anyone trying to lose weight. For the competition bodybuilder, excess water retention on contest day can be devastating as it will promote a puffy, smooth look, for the guy or girl just wanting to look good on the beach, losing that excess bloat will do wonders and for the typical dieter, excess water weight is a common problem because things like to much sodium in your diet as well as certain OTC and srcipt medications can cause excessive water retention. For the typical mainstream dieter, losing a quick 5 lbs of water weight looks good on the scale and can be motivating, for the average bodybuilder who is already lean, losing that extra water will promote that ripped look so many of us try for.

Typically, water pills contain several key ingredients that, when combined together as a formula, work the best. Here are those ingredients:

Vitamin B-6 – Part of the B family of vitamins, which are water soluble, meaning they are flushed out of your system quickly so they must be taken daily. The B complex as a whole is important for converting food into usable energy and for fighting stress, when each member of the complex is taken individually they serve different functions, one of the many functions of B-6 is to act as a mild diuretic.

Uva Ursi – uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), also known as bearberry because bears like eating the fruit, has been used as a medicine since the 2nd century. The leaves of this small shrub have been used for centuries as a mild diuretic, also as a treatment for headaches, urinary problems and as a general tonic for weakened kidneys, liver or pancreas.

Buchu leaf – Buchu is a native bush of South Africa. As an herbal diuretic, Buchu stimulates and cleanses the urinary system. The herb also helps reduce excess water weight.

Dandelion – Dandelion is grown commercially in both the United States and Europe and both the leaf and root have been used for centuries to treat liver, gall bladder, and kidney ailments, weak digestion, and rheumatism. The leaves have traditionally been used as a diuretic.

An advantage of the leaves is that they are also high in potassium, so they help to compensate for potassium lost with increased urination.

Juniper – This is a small shrub, 4 to 6 feet high, widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Oil of Juniper is given as a diuretic, it also aids things such as indigestion, flatulence, and diseases of the kidney and bladder.

While some formulas will contain other ingredients, these are the primary herbs and vitamins used in natural diuretic products. It's important to understand that a diuretic product usually comes as a formula, it's the combination of ingredients that produces the desired results.

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Any Good Formula Will Include Electrolytes

Any good formula will also include electrolytes as well, such as potassium, usually magnesium and calcium. Potassium is especially important, if you lose to much water you will begin to cramp, this will help prevent that from happening. It should also be said that water intake is also important as you need water to live and function normally, never deny yourself adequate water in your attempts to lean out. As a side note for those who may not know, let's briefly define electrolytes: they are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body. For example, when you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat, particularly sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant. The major body electrolytes are – sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate.

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Benefits of Diuretics

  • Reduce excess water retention

As indicated above, products like this are a mainstay for competition bodybuilders who need that “paper thin” look, remember in this case you want to see extreme definition and if there's even a thin layer of water that look will not be there. Turning to more mainstream needs, the amount of sodium in many of today's food choices can be absolutely insane. While it's true sodium is an essential mineral that we do need, we don not need it in the typical amounts you find in everything from fast food to soup to most processed foods to you name it! This is just one small part of the food problems and perceptions that contribute to today's obesity epidemic among the general population. So the result of the kind of high sodium intake prevalent in the diet's of many people today is water retention, often extreme. A good water pill can help reduce that and get some of that excess fluid out, which often results in an initial impressive poundage drop that can be motivating to a new dieter. As talked about with other products in other areas of these guides, this is a specialized product serving a specialized need and is another example of a supplement being the best choice for this need.

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Diuretic Supplements, Timing and Dosage

Natural water pills come mainly as a tablet or capsule and usually as a formula but you can buy several of the individual herbs by themselves, in this case dandelion would be the main choice. Additionally, some water pill products will contain naturally occurring caffeine in the form of green tea or guarana, this is common in the fat loss category as caffeine acts as a thermogenic and is usually combined with almost everything. This is a product where following label directions is a must and that includes drinking a lot of water as, again, lack of water intake combined with a lot of water loss by the body will lead to cramps, something you definitely want to avoid, so timing and dosage directions will vary from product to product but as always, read and follow the label of the product you buy for best results.

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