Health and Fitness - What I have learned

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Top Seven Natural Diuretics 

Below are the seven most common natural diuretics. 

Early scientific studies have shown that many of these alternatives help the body excrete excess fluid. 

1. Dandelion

To some, the dandelion is just a weed. Butrecent research has found that one of the plant’s compounds enhances kidney activity and increases urination frequency.  

  research has found that one of the plant’s compounds enhances kidney activity and increases urination frequency. 


2. Hawthorn

This relative of the rose family is a powerful diuretic. 

Its can reduce fluid buildup, which means it can also improve symptoms of congestive heart failure. 

The plant’s nutrients have also shown to increase urinary excretion and flowHawthorn berries can also act as diuretics and may help treat kidney problems.  

  increase urinary excretion and flowHawthorn berries can also act as diuretics and may help treat kidney problems. 


3. Horsetail

2014 study found that horsetail extract had the same effects as prescription diuretics, with fewer side effects. 

Horsetail may be a good alternative to prescriptions, especially if you’ve had problems with side effects.  

  2014 study found that horsetail extract had the same effects as prescription diuretics, with fewer side effects. Horsetail may be a good alternative to prescriptions, especially if you’ve had problems with side effects. 

4. Juniper


The juniper plant has been used as a diuretic since medieval times

Few modern-day studies have proven its benefits, but the evergreen has shown to have a significant effect on urine volume in animals. 

Like many natural diuretics, juniper doesn’t seem to lower potassium levels like some drugs do. 

  medieval times

Few modern-day studies have proven its benefits, but the evergreen has shown to have a significant effect on urine volume in animals. 

Like many natural diuretics, juniper doesn’t seem to lower potassium levels like some drugs do.


5. Green and Black

Yes. Every time you enjoy a hot cup of tea, you may be flushing excess fluid from your system. 

Both black and green teas have shown potential as natural diuretics.  

  black and green teas have shown potential as natural diuretics. 


6. Parsley 

While parsley is mainly used as a garnish, it may be more useful to those who are having trouble with diuretic drugs. 

One study found that it may help with urinary volume. 


7. Hibiscus 

This beautiful flower has more than its looks. The "roselle," a species of hibiscus, had significant diuretic effects in one recent study

An earlier study also noted that hibiscus helped increase kidney filtration.


1443129433

My Experience With Diuretic Use

Figure competitor Julie Michaelson openly talks about her experience with the use of the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ).

I wanted to write this article on my first-hand account of prescription diuretic use for competition because in my post-contest rebound, I Googled and I Binged and I could not find anyone else who had written about their first-hand account of diuretic rebound.


 I desperately needed to know if what I was feeling and what I was going through was normal. 

I hope that my experience will either be helpful to you in your rebound or will enlighten you enough to choose not to use prescription diuretics or at the very least get all the necessary information about their use from a qualified individual.


I’ve always prided myself on being a "natural" figure competitor

I have nothing against the use of performance enhancing drugs, nor do I judge people who use them, I just personally choose not to use them. 

To be honest, I’ve never even been tempted to give them a try…until recently…


It was exactly one week before my last competition and I knew I was no where near ready to step on stage. 

I would say I was at least 4-6 weeks from being as lean as I should have been. 

I considered not taking the stage and bailing out at the last minute, but I didn’t feel like that was a legitimate option for me. 

I thought perhaps if I could drop enough water weight in the coming week it might compensate for my "fluffiness". 


A few days later, a friend and fellow bodybuilder offered me prescription diuretics and I figured that since it was not a tested show, there was really no harm. 

After all, it’s just a diuretic.


I’m still not exactly sure where I went in my head that made me think this was a smart idea. 

The thing that is most important to me in the whole competition process is making sure that I set myself up for a healthy post competition phase. 


I knew that there would be harsh consequences as a result of what I was choosing to do, but for some reason, I completely disregarded what I know to be true. 

Desperation is the only answer I’ve been able to find.


The diuretic that I received was: Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ): a thiazide diuretic (water pill) that helps prevent your body from absorbing too much salt, which can cause fluid retention. Hydrochlorothiazide treats fluid retention (edema) in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, or kidney disorders, or edema caused by taking steroids or estrogen. 

This medication is also used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).


It probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal had it been taken correctly. But, in my desperate attempt to look remotely stage ready, I did not take the time to do my due diligence and investigate what exactly I was taking and how I should be taking it. 

Of course, in my haste, I didn’t know I was taking a drug that should not be used by asthmatics (me) and people with sulfa allergies (also me). 

And so, I took what was advised and it was advised to take a LOT! 

By the time the day of the show arrived I was severely and dangerously dehydrated.


The week of the show, I started water loading as usual, but unlike how I normally water deplete, I went from 2 gallons to 20oz as recommended by a friend. 

I was still 3 days out from the show. 

I was still doing cardio and using the sauna to drop water. 

The two days before the show were sips of water only. Over the course of 36 hours, I took 10, 50mg tablets of HCTZ. 


Between Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon I lost 19lbs! 

I knew that losing that much weight was going to mean severe consequences in the coming days. 

You just don’t lose that much weight without having a serious rebound.


My usual carb load meal is pancakes with butter and syrup and a glass of orange juice. 

Because my coach didn’t know I was taking the diuretics, she still had me loading on the usual pancake meal the night before the show. 

In hindsight, that was probably a really bad idea to have all that sugar in conjunction with the diuretics. 

The morning of the show I had my same pancake breakfast and was feeling pretty much like death warmed over. 

I was already getting bloated before prejudging. 

After prejudging, I didn’t really feel like food so much as just something cold and wet in my mouth. 

So, I enjoyed a couple small bowls of soft serve ice cream and a whole lot of pineapple. 

Yet another bad idea. All that sugar was just a recipe for disaster.


What I didn’t know was how careful you had to be with sugars in combination with diuretic use and also how careful you have to be when adding water back after the show. 

After the night show, I guzzled water like crazy! 

More than food, I just wanted water. 

The week following the show, I enjoyed foods I like, but nothing crazy or out of hand. 

I hit the gym in typical post-contest style the day after the show to keep up with my cardio as that’s the best way I’ve found to avoid packing on the quick pounds. 

By mid-week I was having terrible digestion issues and feeling pretty bloated.


Little did I know there was a "perfect storm" brewing inside of my body and I was in for a very long road ahead.

I knew I was in for a harsh rebound, but I thought maybe a couple weeks would be all. Unfortunately, it was not that simple.


Post Contest: The Rebound

The first few days after the show seemed to be pretty much status quo. 

However, by Wednesday following a Friday contest, I could tell that there was something serious going on. 

The first thing I noticed was that my digestive system just wasn’t working right. 

I wasn’t sure what was the cause…being on a keto diet and then reintroducing carbs too fast or if it had something to do with the diuretics. 


About a week after the contest I decided to start taking Cleanse & Lean again as well as Dandelion Root to see if that would help with my digestion and water retention issues.

They helped, a bit. 


About a week later I decided it was probably best to cut the Cleanse & Lean and the Dandelion Root and allow my body to reach its natural state of balance on its own without the help of supplements

This is when all hell broke loose! I swelled up so fast.

My abdomen was distended, making me look about 5 months pregnant. 

It was painful. Every part of my body was swollen: my legs, my arms, my butt…everything! My clothes didn’t fit and I didn’t know what was happening to my body. 

Lifting weights was painful because I was on glycogen overload so I would get ridiculous pumps that were too painful to be "cool."


A good friend of mine is a paramedic and so he became the recipient of my many questions that I couldn’t find answers to online. 

He told me I was suffering from total body edema. 

The edema was also making it hard for me to breathe and exacerbating my asthma. 

When I would do cardio, I would be breathless at a level that normally I could handle easily for an hour. 

Because my blood pressure was elevated and the edema was also in my lungs, it took great effort to get through my cardio sessions. 

Even going up the stairs in my house was a chore.


I did a lot of cardio, time in the sauna and water loading. 

This seemed to help a little bit. 

Weeks went by and while the swelling and bloating got better, it was so gradual that it was hard to notice. 


About 5 weeks after the contest I had a lymphatic drainage massage and even had the massage therapist work on my abdomen. 

The massage was definitely a turning point in my rebound. 


I noticed dramatic results immediately, however, I continued to have water retention as well as digestive issues.


I had to start using the Cleanse & Lean again and kept using it for another 4 weeks before my doctor told me I had to stop taking it as it was making matters worse and prolonging my recovery


My body had become dependent on it from using it for so long and couldn’t function without it.


All the while, I was following my typical 4-6 week out diet

Super clean, low carb, low fat, high protein


This diet always works for me and it works fast, so the fact that I was not dropping much with the food and the 2-a-day cardio sessions was really affecting me mentally. 


I wanted results and I wasn’t getting them. 


I was uncomfortable in my own skin and I couldn’t do anything about it. 

What worked before wasn’t working this time.


The beauty of being a female is in addition to all the other issues going on in the body we have to deal with wacky hormones and reproductive-related issues. 

This whole process did a big number on my hormones. 


Over the course of 9 weeks I had my cycle 6 times. 


Regular, 5 day long cycles. 


Admittedly, I was starting to get scared. 

Nine weeks is a long time and the fact that my cycles weren’t getting longer was starting to worry me. 

I finally made an appointment to see my naturopath.


My naturopath nearly fell off her chair when I told her how much of the diuretic I took in such a short time frame. 


On the other hand, a client of mine who is a physician didn’t seem all that alarmed by it, so I don’t know how bad it really is for most folks. 


For me, it was too much and my body revolted. 


I was relieved when my naturopath said that my body was doing what it was supposed to do and that everything sounded on track for getting back to normal.


I had a bit of a caffeine addiction (a "bit" being a pretty big understatement) that I had to kick to help speed my recovery process. 


In hindsight, the caffeine I was consuming was likely hindering my progress. 


The dehydration messed with my electrolyte levels, so we had to work at getting that fixed as well. 


She also started me on probiotics to treat an infection caused by being dehydrated and to help with my digestive problems. 


If you find yourself in a situation like me, I would strongly encourage you to seek medical advice as early as possible so you can give your body everything it needs to start healing.


Over the last couple months I have done a lot of research on this matter and one of the things that I found particularly interesting was the impact all of this has on the adrenal system and how important it is to keep our adrenal system healthy and functioning well. 


A few supplements I added for adrenal support are:

It’s now been 12 weeks since my last show and I’m still working on getting back to normal, helping my body get back into balance. 


I am eating clean, training hard and trying hard to rest more and give my body all the things it needs to get back to a healthy state. 


This has been an extremely traumatic experience for me mentally, physically and emotionally and it was important to me to write this because I can guarantee that there are other people out there, like me, and are confused and scared and wondering if this is normal and "will I ever feel like ME again?" 


It’s not something I’m proud of, so reaching out for help was a fear I simply had to overcome to be able to get better.


It has also been important for me to use this experience and this time to reflect on what I did and why I did it. 


I have 4 children who depend on me, I cannot "voluntarily" put my life in jeopardy. 


No contest is worth that to me and it shouldn’t be worth that to anyone. 


I have definitely learned a lesson the hard way, but in looking at the positive side, I have gained so much knowledge over the last couple of months and now I have first hand experience to go with it. 

It’s not a road I will ever take again and hopefully others can learn from my experience and not feel the need to go down this road themselves. 


As I said before, should you decide that you want to take prescription diuretics for competitive purposes, PLEASE seek the advice of a trained professional that knows what they’re doing so that you get proper guidance before, during and after use.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie MichaelsonJulie Michaelson is a nutrition coach, personal trainer and NPC figure competitor. 
Julie was also a featured body transformation on Muscle & Strength. View all by Julie Michaelson »18 

COMMENTS+ POST COMMENT
Posted Tue, 09/23/2014 

Hallie

Good for you for swallowing your pride and posting this honest, 

brave account of your experience. Everything we go through is for a reason. You've obviously learned a lot from this. 

Perhaps, more so about your self and what is important, than about your body. 

We all make mistakes. But as long as we learn from them, and help others in the process, we have made them for the better.

Posted Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:37LIKE 
Jill

I was taking 25mg of HCTZ once a day for high blood pressure. 

I do cardio 4 times a week and get dizzy and my blood pressure drops too low. 

My doctor now has told me to take half every other day. 

This has helped out a lot. 

I been taking them for years, I can't even image abusing them like that and the consequences for doing so. 

I was getting the irregular heart beat and extreme dizziness.

Posted Mon, 02/10/2014 
Jennifer

Can someone post the answer to this? 

My new year's resolution was to stop abusing laxatives but I've gained so much weight it's discouraging. 

I'm eating healthy, drinking water etc but my weight won't budge it only increases. Please help!

Posted Fri, 05/15/2015 
Tina

I just read your comment and it really spoke to me. 

I am in the process right now and it is miserable, just wanted to reach out and ask you how you were doing and maybe what advise you had for someone trying to recover from laxative abuse
Thank you so much

Posted Mon, 01/13/2014 
dawn

Can any of you tell how long it took to lose all of the rebound edema after stopping diuretics? 

It has been 6 weeks I am off of them and I haven't lost 15 lbs. of rebound edema I put on after stopping diuretics even though I cut back sodium drastically. 

I am discouraged.

Posted Fri, 11/08/2013

Cam

Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for writing this and sharing your story! 

I went through and am going through this now. 

Took Diuretics suggested by a friend as well as all over the net to lose a few extra lbs prior to my show. 

I did lose the water weight but 3 days after I was in the ER with chest pain. 

3 weeks later and still experience spikes in Blood pressure. 

I gained 30lbs in just over 3 weeks.


Taking this diuretic was the biggest mistake of my life! 

Im sorry that people are judging you for trying to help and judging your lifestyle and foods that you eat. 

That wasnt the point of your story, the point was to warn others but people like judging and casting stones. 

Anyway Thank you again. 

Once I finally normalize I will be back to doing NPC Mens Physique shows. 

If I see you at one I will say thank you.

Posted Fri, 10/04/2013 

dawn

The exact same thing happened to me. 

I overused diuretics and even while on them, I started to blow up in weight. 

Once I went off, 5 days later I put on 12 lbs. It has been 2 weeks off and I put on 16lbs. in total. 

My doctor tested renin/aldosterone which was off the chart high and said there is noting I can do and let it come down on own. 

Can someone please email me that has experienced weight gain after stopping diuretics and tell me how long it took to get back normal and any other info. 

I am so depressed over this and can't fit in to my clothes.

Posted Tue, 09/03/2013 

Nicole

Thank you for sharing!! 

i also have been spending hours on line looking up the same think. 

how ever i have spent months trying to figure out what is wrong with me. 

its only been recent that i found that a simple diuretic has been the reason for my problems. 

the doc gave me a diuretic after i complained about swelling in my hands and feet. 

i was so happy to take it cuz the swelling was an annoyance... over the past 3 years! ive had a number if other issues, ranging from constipation to mouth sores.. i also sweat allot. going to the gym was so hard. 

i have a heat intolerance, low blood pressure, and im always getting UTIs. whats wrong with me i would ask the doc. 

he said stress. 

i am currently (past 2 years) getting a divorce. marital issues before that. 

ok stress... then i asked the doc what was going on my legs were swelling.. how can i be dehydrated AND retaining water! and i was taking the diuretic. 

drink more water he said...... 4L of water a day. i found out the mouth sores were from a b deficiency. 

i took a b complex and.... well to make a long story short all my issues are from 1 little pill i took because my hands and legs swell. 

its been almost 7 days that i havnt took the water pill and im full of water. 

today i can feel it in my nose... im all messed up. 

go to the doctor.. that makes me smile. new doctor maybe. 

what am i doing for this? 

looking on line to see if anyone else is having the same issues. 


I have been drinking a liter of water and a cup of coffee every morning before i eat to help in getting regular. and soup. 

homemade bone broth soup with veggys. 

its helping (i hope) one pound left the scale this morning. 

my body is just now letting the water go. i am still dehydrated and a mess. 

ive always tried to eat healthy and balanced. 

i live on a farm i raise and grow most of my food. 

i dont eat anything that comes in a box or bag. 

one little pill has messed everything up. 

im 36 years old i always felt and acted at least 10 years younger. 

between what life has dealt and that little pill, i feel ive aged to 10 years older. 

sure some can be from stress but the rest is from taking that diuretic. 

i'll get back to health. 

i know its going to be hard keeping my chin up. 

but seeing you and what you wrote gives me faith that in time and bumpy roads that i will also feel better.

 i dont have a couch or anything like that. but i'll get there. thank you again.

Posted Mon, 03/03/2014 

dawn dugan

I went through something similar. Once I stopped the diuretics, 

I swelled up 20 lbs and months later it hasn't come off. 

Did you get all of the swelling off and if so, how long? 

I am so depressed over this.

Posted Tue, 08/27/2013

Ellen

You are very fortunate that you did not suffer a serious cardiac event. 

The excessive diuretic you took without adequate monitoring of your electrolytes was asking for heart damage or kidney damage. 

I was in the emergency dept. 2 weeks ago and was diagnosed with Diastolic Heart Failure at age 56. 

After I was taken to the corornary intensive care I was given large IV doses of a potent diuretic even though I had been on a prescribed diuretic for years. 

I was so swollen I had not been able to fit tennis shoes on my feet for months or fit into any regular clothes. 

I could not bend my knees because of the excess fluid and the skin was stretched thin. 

I lost 23 pounds of fluid in 36 hours and finally I could breath again. 

During the time I was on the high dose diuretic I had blood tested every 4 hours to monitor my electrolytes. 

I had to be given potassium & magnesium to supplement what I was losing through my urine. 

My doctor told me that if I had not had this testing & electrolyte replacement my blood pressure would have been high enough to cause a stroke. 

Additional caffine and placing yourself in the heated water of the hot tub also would have caused your blood pressure to potentially be abnormally high and your heart rate would have been racing. 



Posted Mon, 01/13/2014
dawn

Thanks for sharing. It has been 6 weeks off of diuretics and I haven't lost the rebound edema of 15 lbs. 

I put on once I stopped the diureitcs. 

Did you lose all of the rebound edema and if so how long did it take? 

I am not sure what else to to, I cut back sodium drastically. 

I thought after 6 weeks things would have gotten better. 

My doc. is of no help and says take diuretic again, but I don;t want to as I think they made the little edema I had worse. Now, I'm a mess. Any info, you can give would be most appreciated!

Posted Wed, 07/10/2013

Janet

Thank you for sharing your story. <3 I hope many read it and use it as a learning tool!


Posted Thu, 09/13/2012 
Annemarie

 

Wow, this also happened to me, I nearly gained 20kg in 3 weeks after my show! No matter how clean I dieted, I could not get rid of it. 

I thought its only water due to the diuretic overdose, but realized how much fat I gained the 3 weeks post comp that I binged. 

Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing.

Posted Tue, 03/13/2012 - 17:35
Ryan

I have the same problem. 

I not as bad but I can tell a difference so those supplements you listed above helped you?

Posted Wed, 07/07/2010 -l
Julie

Thanks Mark! That's a good question. 

I chose not to see a physician because I was told by several people (my medic friend, a client/physician and bodybuilders who have used hctz) that these symptoms would clear up on their own, in due time. 

In hindsight, I obviously should have sought medical attention at the onset of these symptoms as that likely could have sped up my recovery process. 

And yes, I got VERY, VERY lucky. A lesson learned the hard way, for sure.

Posted Wed, 07/07/2010 - 15:10
mark

Great story. 

Thank you for sharing. 

Why did you not see a physician when you first started noticing these symptoms? 

Taking that much diuretics will leave your electrolytes out of wack. 

You were really lucky that you did not get any arrhythmias with the diuretic use.

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