The Canary Island people have a long history of using medicinal flora to treat diseases, the effectiveness of which can often be supported by modern scientific research.
For example in 1996, at the University of La Laguna in Tenerife, Perez M et al researched several local plants to see if any had a diuretic action. Out of all the plants examined in the study, Astydamia latifolia showed considerable diuretic potential. They eventually concluded that infusions made from this particular plant was similar in action to the drug Furosemide thus reducing excess fluid in the body. Oedema can result from conditions such as heart failure, liver disease and kidney problems. Furosemide is also used to treat high blood pressure. As it is a loop diuretic, it works in the loop of Henle, facilitating the reabsorption of the electrolytes sodium and chloride from the urine. This action increases the amount of urine and also causes a reduction in blood pressure.
Under experimentation it was infusions of the whole plant that showed the diuretic effects rather than extractions, which suggests that this effect is mediated by the presence of salts, since, logically, these are found in larger amounts in infusion than in other extracts. Astydamia latifolia is a plant with high potassium content, useful in reducing the risk of hypokalaemia that can often be associated with the usage of loop diuretics, such as Furosemide.
Some of the common side effects of Furosemide include: nausea or vomiting, diarrhorea, constipation, stomach cramping, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and itching rashes.
The future usage of Astydamia latifolia infusions in mainstream medicine may, therefore, be of great benefit, as it is an effective diuretic avoiding the side effects associated with Furosemide. After all, anything that has the potential to do us good without causing harm can only be a good idea.