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A diuretic is any drug that tends to increase the flow of urine from the body. Some common diuretics are caffeine and alcohol.

Medically, diuretics are used to treat heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver[?], and certain kidney diseases. Diuretics are able to alleviate the symptoms of these diseases by causing sodium and water loss through the urine. As more urine is produced by the kidney, sodium and water causing edema related to the disease move into the blood to replace the volume lost as urine, thereby reducing the pathological edema. Diuretics also lower blood pressure by simply reducing the volume of fluid in the body's blood vessels and are therefore frequently used in the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure).

Chemically, diuretics are a diverse group of compounds that either stimulate or inhibit various hormones that naturally occur in the body to regulate urine production by the kidneys. Key targets of these drugs include angiotensin II[?], aldosterone[?], atrial-natriuretic peptide[?], and vasopressin, all of which act on the kidney's nephron in various ways to control urine formation.

For more information, consult any textbook of physiology or nephrology.

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