Diuretics, also known as “water pills,” are drugs that increase the rate at which fluid is flushed from the body. Diuretics heighten the actions of the kidneys, increasing the volume of a person’s urine and eliminating excess fluids. If you take diuretics, you should not take the medicinal herb known as kava (P. methysticum). Here’s why you should not use kava-kava and diuretics a the same time.
Diuretic Side Effects
Diuretics increase a person’s risk of dehydration because they can flush too much fluid from the body. This common complication of diuretic use can trigger uncomfortable side effects, such as thirst and irritability. In rare cases, a diuretic may cause severe dehydration, leading to headache, fatigue, and unconsciousness. Some cases of dehydration may even cause death.
Kava and Diuretics
Although kava itself is not a diuretic, it can heighten the activity of prescription diuretics, leading to an increased risk of side effects. If you use kava and diuretics at the same time, you might find yourself urinating more frequently and experiencing a greater degree of thirst. Rarely, kava might interact with diuretics so strongly that it leads to dehydration.
It is best to avoid kava-kava entirely if you use diruretics, but, if your health care provider approves, you might consider using the combination with caution. Drink extra fluids, including both water and electrolyte-enhanced beverages. If you notice kava increasing the effectiveness of your diuretics, monitor your condition to watch for signs of dehydration. If you feel fatigued or sick, stop using kava.
Many mainstream health care providers recommend against the use of kava-kava because case reports have linked some preparations to liver damage. If you have any liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis or fibrosis, you should not take kava-kava. Note that the herb may also interact with other medications besides diuretics. Avoid medicinal herbs except under a health care provider’s guidance if you have any medical condition.
The National Institutes of Health and University of Maryland Medical Center offer more information about kava.