Medicinal Plants: A Potent Source of Diuretics and Antioxidants in Traditional Medicinal Systems

Medicinal Plants: A Potent Source of Diuretics and Antioxidants in Traditional Medicinal Systems

Aashaq Hussain Bhat, Himani Goyal Sharma
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3546-5.ch004
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Medicines of plant origin have been used for treating humans and animals without any adverse effects. New medicinal plants are searched to develop more effective and cheaper drugs in place of synthetics drugs. Plants represent a large natural source of compounds that might serve for the development of novel drugs. Currently medicinal herbs are researched for diuretic properties, and several medicinal herbs are used as diuretics. Currently various synthetic medicines are available for this purpose; however, natural resource medicines are still an important choice because of their higher efficiency and better safety. Further, some herbs are also important sources of antioxidants, which protect the body from the effects of free radicals produced in the body. Antioxidants are required by our body due to increase in the likely exposure of the body to harmful pollutants, radiation, UV lights, etc. These have the ability to delay the oxidation, and plant-derived products are of great interest due to the adverse effect of antibiotics.
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Diuretics And Their Types

Diuretics are drugs or any substances which have characteristic feature of increasing the output of urine in animals by slowing down the renal reabsorption of water. Diuretics possess a remarkable property of increasing the diuresis by inhibiting the Na+ reabsorption in the proximal and distal convoluted tubule of nephrons. Three basic processes are responsible for the increased urine excretion and electrolytes by the kidneys viz., glomerular filtration, tubular reabsorption (active and passive) and tubular secretion and thus regulate the water and electrolyte balance in the body. Diuretics are liable for the increased excretion of fluids in the urine.

Diuretics are very effective in the treatment of cardiac oedema, specifically the one related with congestive heart failure. They are employed extensively in various types of disorders, for example, nephritic syndrome, diabetes insipidus, nutritional oedema, cirrhosis of the liver, influenza, water poisoning, hypertension, oedema of pregnancy and also to lower intraocular and cerebrospinal fluid pressure and certain kidney diseases (Barrar, 2003).

Diuretics show a significant role in the management of oedema and hypertension by increasing net negative water and solute balance. About 50-66% of fluid is reabsorbed by the proximal convoluted tubule of nephron via both active and passive processes. It has been observed that the thin descending limb of Henle’s loop permits osmotic water abstraction as it is highly permeable to water and impermeable to solutes. Further from descending limb of loop of Henle, there is less water absorption which plays an important role in overall enhanced condition of diuresis. Finally, the thin ascending limb of loop of Henle is impermeable to water and highly permeable to chloride and sodium, therefore, diuretics show no effects on it (Kokko, 1984).

Types of Diuretics

Basically there are three types of diuretics currently in use: thiazide, loop and potassium-sparing. All the three diuretics are responsible for the increased excretion of solutes in urine. These diuretics specifically targets different parts of nephron, and thus, have different uses with different side effects and thus preliminary precautions must be taken before using them.

Thiazide Diuretics

Most commonly used and approved diuretics used today are thiazides, being mostly used in curing of high blood pressure. One of the thiazides viz., chlorthiazide promotes the loss of sodium and chloride ions by specifically targeting the distal convoluted tubule of the nephron through the inhibition of sodium-chloride symporters. These drugs with other medications are exploited for lowering the blood pressure. The other commonly used thiazides include: metolazone, hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), indapamide, chlorthalidone, etc. All of these thiazides help in lowering blood pressure by relaxing and relieving fluids

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