Most of us are familiar with the yellow flowers and round, fluffy seed head of a dandelion. However, this common wild plant is often seen as a just a weed when it’s actually been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. Many countries also use dandelion in salads or drink it as a tea. Dandelion has been used as a natural remedy for various ailments from stomach disorders to skin conditions, however it’s most commonly known as a detoxifier due to its water excretion (diuretic) properties encouraging you to pee more.
Like dandelion, the herb parsley is also often underestimated. Usually used as just a garnish, parsley actually has some very useful properties. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, be useful as an antioxidant and also works to help the body expel water (aquaretic).
The science behind it
Diuretics are foods (or drugs) that work on the kidneys to help to increase the amount of water and salts (electrolytes) such as sodium lost in the urine. Diuretics can be used to help patients with heart failure, high blood pressure, tissue swelling, liver failure and kidney stones. Aquaretics also increase urine output but don’t have the same effect on the amount of electrolytes excreted by the kidneys. By increasing urine output this helps to flush the urinary system, helping to remove bacteria and crystals from the bladder.
Historically, both dandelion and parsley have had anecdotal evidence to confirm their benefits as diuretics and several studies support this. One showed that compared to normal water, rats fed on a solution containing parsley extracts will produce a larger amount of urine over a 24 hour period. Studies with humans using dandelion extracts have also been promising. Some showed an increase in the frequency of urination but not the volume of urine, but as far back as 1974, research with rats and mice showed that dandelion leaf extract had a comparative diuretic effect as the powerful diuretic drug furosemide. Furosemide is sometimes referred to as ‘water tablets', used commonly in both humans and animals suffering from heart failure.
Dandelion & Parsley in Vet’s Kitchen
Cats have evolved, from their desert dwelling ancestors, to conserve and drink very little water as in the wild their prey would contain up to 75% water. They have not fully adapted from this wild state and studies show they consume 30% less when fed on a dry diet, compared to a wet food. Hydration is essential for keeping the bladder healthy so we formulated both our dry cat diets to include dandelion and parsley extract to maintain urinary health. These natural diuretics aid urine excretion and can encourage your cat to drink more water, and urinate more frequently, something that is crucial to managing common problems such as cystitis.
In addition, cats can choose between eating our 80% chicken or 80% salmon based diet, both contain high levels of fresh animal protein, making them highly palatable and much more suitable for a cat’s natural physiology. Cats can suffer from urinary problems and a higher meat diet helps to promote a more natural urinary pH, aiding urinary health.
Bevin, C et al, The Diuretic Effect in Human Subjects of an Extract of Taraxacum officinale Folium over a Single Day. J. Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug; 15(8): 929–934.
Buckley et al. Effect of dietary water intake on urinary output, specific gravity and relative supersaturation for calcium oxalate and struvite in the cat. British Journal of Nutrition (2011), 106, S128–S130
Kreydiyyeh SI, Usta J. Diuretic effect and mechanism of action of parsley. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Mar;79(3):353-7.
Yarnell,E. Botanical Medicines for the Urinary Tract. World J Urol (2002) 20: 285-293