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Diuretics are still the best treatment

I was interested to read that the ‘tried and true’ diuretics have been shown in a recent study to be the best first line treatment for high blood pressure. They are still the best!

The study is part of the ALLHAT Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial which has been going since 1994. That’s a long time!

Considering this is the largest hypertension trial to date I am always interested in the results of this ongoing study.

Before I get into the study, Steve sent me this video about how diuretics work. It is longer, and more technical than the videos I would normally include. There is no need to watch the video to understand the rest of the story, so feel free to skip the video if it is too technical, or if you don’t feel like having a chemistry lesson :-)

The hypertension medication study

The original ALLHAT trial started in 1994 with over 42,000 people with high blood pressure. The people were randomly assigned to take one of the following common anti-hypertensive medications:

  • The diuretic – chlorthalidone
  • A calcium channel blocker – amlodipine besylate
  • An ACE inhibitor – lisinopril
  • An alpha-receptor blocker – doxazosin mesylate

The study looked at the outcomes of those on the long-term medications in regards to coronary heart disease, death, heart failure and cardiovascular disease.

The study results

The study showed that diuretics were as good or better than other newer blood pressure lowering drugs for treating hypertension in patients and reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Diuretics increase the discharge of urine and thus reduce the ‘pressure’ in the body which in turn reduces blood pressure.

The lead researcher Dr. William Cushman said at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando this month,

“None of the newer drugs were superior to chlorthalidone (diuretic) for reducing death from cardiovascular disease or end-stage renal disease. Chlorthalidone (diuretic) treatment is superior to each in preventing one or more major cardiovascular events as long as participants continued taking the drug.”

The last time I reported on the results of the ALLHAT trial was in February 2008 which also showed the success of diuretics for treating hypertension.

What about natural diuretics?

Alcohol and caffeine are well known as natural diuretics, however, I wouldn’t say they are always healthy. :) Everyone knows that too much caffeine and alcohol will have you running to the the toilet frequently, but they also dehydrate the body. If you drink alcohol and caffeine be sure to drink plenty of water too.

There are, however some natural diuretic foods, such as fruits and vegetables that act as a mild diuretic and help cleanse the urinary system.  

Some diuretic drinks include: 

  • Green tea
  • Cranberry juice
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dandelion leaf tea

Some diuretic foods include:

  • Asparagus
  • Brussels Spouts
  • Beets
  • Oats
  • Cabbage 

What about you?

Do you take diuretics to help manage your blood pressure? I know Steve is a big fan of drinking green tea which is a much healthier diuretic than the 6 to 8 cups of coffee he used to drink. :)

Leave a comment below and share if you have had success with diuretics.


10 Responses to “Long term study proves diuretics are the best treatment”

  1. Steve says:

    Hi Kellie, Thanks for including the video. I agree, it is a bit like a chemistry lesson :-)

    Good to know that my green tea habit may also be helping my blood pressure. I also eat some oats for breakfast so that should be helping too.

    Interesting article and study. Thanks!

  2. John S says:

    Almost all hypertension is caused by chronic elevated insulin levels (>85%). Today this is called Syndrome X or adult onset diabetes. High blood pressure can quickly and effectively be treated with an insulin lowering diet or in other words a low carbohydrate diet preferably a diet that contains healthy fats and low glycemic index carbs. Drs. Michael and Mary Eades, co-authors of Protein Power, report that significant blood pressure reductions are routinely seen in their patients not in months or weeks but rather in days if a patient is compliant with a low carb diet.

    One of insulin’s many biological activities is to force the body to retain sodium which expands the blood volume which contributes to high blood pressure. Sound familiar? That’s because one of the mechanisms of action of many diuretics is to increase excretion of sodium which draws out water into the urine by osmosis. Another action of insulin is to cause excretion of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in smooth muscle relaxation. When magnesium levels drop then the blood vessels cannot relax as much which thereby causes relative blood vessel constriction which also adds to high blood pressure.

    Now why would anyone want to take a pill (all of which have side effects) to lower blood pressure when a mere change in diet could accomplish the same result. Actually dietary modifications work much better than medications. This is particularly true in the case of thiazide and beta-blocker diuretics which are known to increase insulin levels and contribute to adult onset diabetes. This is insanity – using a drug to treat a problem where the drug contributes to the cause of the problem. See this:

    Add potassium depletion to the above and you now have a patient taking a diuretic to treat a disease and then taking an additional drug (potassium) to treat a side effect of the primary drug whihc also exacerbates the underlying cause of the high blood pressure. Unfortunately, that’s how most doctors treat high blood pressure in the United States.

    Check out Dr Eades blog. He doesn’t discuss that insulin increases excretion of Mg in this blog entry but he does discuss it in hos book Protein Power – well worth the price of about $8 US). I
    take 400mg of Mg Aspartate every day. The supplement also contains 400mg of potassium aspartate.

    Dr. Ron Rosedale, a noted insulin and leptin expert, also discusses magnesium magnesium. This is a pretty famous transcript of a talk given by Dr. Rosedale in Boulder, CO in 1999.

    • Steve says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your interesting message! Personally I do agree with you that the root cause of many health problems is what goes in people’s mouths.

      I started skim reading (for the second time) the Dr. Ron Rosedale talk, but then slowed down and read the whole talk properly. Very interesting reading!


  3. Paul Rawnsley says:

    I drink green tea all the time. Up to 8 mugs per day sometimes.
    I really like the Twinings Green Tea with Lemon. It’s a great product of theirs. It sounds awful but the flavour is so easy to enjoy.
    Green tea is definitely the go.
    However, my BP was around 150/90 last year and came back to 144/85 by Feb 2010. I need to lose weight – at least 10 kgs – then all will be well.
    Other than that, no problems I am aware of.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Paul,

      > I really like the Twinings Green Tea with Lemon

      I will have to give it a try … Thanks for the tip!

  4. John S says:

    Steve and Paul…………walking knowledge that I have filed in the back of my head says that citrus and Vit C help absorb the good stuff from green tea. I always like to provide links to back up my statements so I did a quick search and low and behold citrus and Vit C do in fact help absorption of green tea antioxidant cpds (catechins). And it’s best to use fresh lemon in your tea because it has much higher Vit C levels than a citrus additive that is added to the tea by the manufacturer. Either way though is good.

  5. John S says:

    Clarification: In my prior post I said that insulin causes excretion of magnesium (Mg). That is not exactly correct. Insulin cause the uptake of Mg into cells. When the body is insulin resistant then the insulin is less effective in cause Mg to taken up by cells. Because not as much Mg is taken up by cells there is an increase in Mg excretion in the urine. Therefore, insulin resistance (excessive insulin levels) causes depletion of Mg.

    Here’s a nice quote from the Rosedale article:

    ” What else does insulin do?

    It doesn’t just store carbohydrates, by the way. Somebody mentioned that it is an anabolic hormone, it absolutely is. Body builders are using insulin now because it is legal, so they are injecting themselves with insulin because it builds muscle, it stores protein too.

    A lesser known fact is that insulin also stores magnesium. We mentioned it’s role in vitamin C, it stores all sorts of nutrients. But what happens if your cells become resistant to insulin? First of all you can’t store magnesium so you lose it, that’s one effect, you lose it out the urine.

    What is one of magnesium’s major roles?

    To relax muscles. Intracellular magnesium relaxes muscles. What happens when you can’t store magnesium because the cell is resistant? You lose magnesium and your blood vessels constrict, what does that do?

    Increases blood pressure, and reduces energy since intracellular magnesium is required for all energy producing reactions that take place in the cell. But most importantly, magnesium is also necessary for the action of insulin. It is also necessary for the manufacture of insulin.

    So then you raise your insulin, you lose magnesium, and the cells become even more insulin resistant. Blood vessels constrict, glucose and insulin can’t get to the tissues, which makes them more insulin resistant, so the insulin levels go up and you lose more magnesium. This is the vicious cycle that goes on from before you were born.

    Insulin sensitivity is going to start being determined from the moment the sperm combines with the egg. If your mother, while you were in the womb was eating a high carbohydrate diet, which is turning into sugar, we have been able to show that the fetus in animals becomes more insulin resistant.

    Worse yet, they are able to use sophisticated measurements, and if that fetus happens to be a female, they find that the eggs of that fetus are more insulin resistant. Does that mean it is genetic? No, you can be born with something and it doesn’t mean that it is genetic. Diabetes is not a genetic disease as such. You can have a genetic predisposition. But it should be an extremely rare disease.

    What else does insulin do?

    We mentioned high blood pressure, if your magnesium levels go down you get high blood pressure. We mentioned that the blood vessels constrict and you get high blood pressure.

    Insulin also causes the retention of sodium, which causes the retention of fluid, which causes high blood pressure and fluid retention: congestive heart failure.

    One of the strongest stimulants of the sympathetic nervous system is high levels of insulin.”

    • Steve says:

      Hi John, Thanks for the clarification and also for the links on green tea. Lemons are on my shopping list this week :-)

  6. Bob says:

    Went for a physical and BP 160/90.
    Doctor perscribed Lisinopri/Hydrochlorothiaz pill taken once daily.
    While tracking my results with your software, I went from 160/90 to 105/70 in 4.5 hours and averaging a solid 120/73 over period of 4 days so far.
    Love your software program. Easy to use, Intuitive layout!!!
    I also like the “reminder” and the control of choices I have over setting up the program. Also, your software, website design & layout are absolutely brilliant. Very informative – Well Done! I’m sure the doctor will be impressed when I show-up with your printout. Who knows, he might even suggest your software to other patients.
    Thank You!

  7. Steve says:

    Hi Bob,

    > I went from 160/90 to 105/70 in 4.5 hours
    > and averaging a solid 120/73 over period of 4 days so far.

    Good to hear!

    > Love your software program.
    > Easy to use, Intuitive layout!!!

    Thank you for the kind words! … I appreciate it.

    Thank you for your support!

bottom KellieMyHS

About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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