8 natural ways to treat UTIs and what really works

8 natural ways to treat UTIs and what really works

Want a quick fact for your next party? Forty percent of women get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives.Bono MJ et al. (2018). Urinary tract infection. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470195/ Fun, right? Okay, nothing from urine and tracts will ever be a particularly fun talking point, but it's worth knowing the ins and outs of this incredibly common disease. Especially since 20 percent of women who get a urinary tract infection will get another.

Most of the time, UTIs require treatment for antibiotics to eliminate bugs from your system. It is a perfectly effective treatment, and it usually takes care of the infection within a few days. But, if you prefer not to use antibiotics, given your fear of creating antibiotic-resistant strains of the infection, what options do you have? I have spoken to some experts to find out if there are natural remedies for urinary tract infection and if all that speaks cranberry juice really lives up to the hype.

What is a UTI exactly?

Not surprisingly, a urinary tract infection is a urinary tract infection. The bacteria have entered the urinary system, which is normally sterile. To put it in less pleasant terms, when material from the lower intestine enters your urethra, it causes a bladder infection.

While it sounds horrible, it's not uncommon. Sometimes it can be caused by a lack of proper hygiene, but most of the time it occurs as a result of sex, using a diaphragm or simply being a woman. The Mayo Clinic lists "female anatomy" as a risk factor for the disease. So if you're just walking around town with a vagina, you could very well get a UTI.

The infection itself could be caused by E. coli bacteria, which goes up the urethra. Sometimes it hangs around in this urinary corridor without infecting elsewhere. Most often the bacteria gets into the bladder, causing frequent painful peeing, discharge, blood in the urine and pelvic discomfort. This is not the right time, but a bladder infection is rarely serious, especially if you get treatment right away.

How to cure a urinary tract infection?

For all anti-antibiotics, I have bad news. You cannot cure the infection with natural remedies. Sorry. While there are natural solutions that could help prevent UTIs (which I'll explain a bit), not all of the unsweetened cranberry juice in the world will actually help you. In fact, in the study "Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection", the tangy fruit had exactly the same effect as a placebo in recurrent urinary tract infections. Barbosa-Cesnik C, et al. (2011). Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections: results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. DO I: https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciq073Although you probably guessed it from the title of the study.

The only way to completely get rid of a urinary tract infection is with antibiotics. If you experience symptoms, it is best to see a doctor quickly. They will test your urine, and if it is a urinary tract infection, you will be given a week-long course of antibiotics. Usually your symptoms go away within a few days and you can pee again without pain. But you should continue your antibiotics until you have finished the prescription.

Do I really need to see a doctor for a UTI?

It may seem unnecessary to consult a doctor for such a common disease. Why not let him go and treat him yourself? Dr. Elizabeth Rice, a licensed naturopath and a primary care doctor at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, has advice for natural treatments, but says you should always be careful. "A partially treated or abused urinary tract infection can quickly become a serious condition known as pyelonephritis (kidney infection), so care should always be taken when treating urinary tract infections naturally."

If you are just starting to experience or see potential symptoms of UTI, you can try some natural remedies to try to eliminate bacteria and reduce inflammation before the infection wears off. really spreads, says Rice. Increase your fluid intake to help empty the bladder. But if the symptoms persist for more than a day or worsen, you should consult a doctor.

Going to the doctor can be a little annoying, but a UTI that turns into a kidney infection is much worse than an afternoon in the waiting room. Kidney infections can lead to life-threatening sepsis or permanent kidney damage. Seeing a doctor to prescribe antibiotics can ultimately help you avoid a lifetime of medical complications.

You know your body better, so listen to it. You can't run to the doctor after a strange-feeling pee. If you're starting to have mild symptoms, here are some natural choices that can help.

The truth about natural treatments


D-mannose is a supplement made from a glucose-like sugar which you can find online or at health food stores. "D-mannose is most useful for preventing E. coli to stick to the walls of the urinary tract, "says Rice. D-mannose in recurrent urinary tract infections. (2014). https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01808755 "If taken with lots of water, it can effectively kill the bacteria that cause the infection."

Rice often tells patients to take 500 milligrams every two to three hours when they have symptoms. however, the best dose is individual. You can find more guidelines hereand when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to follow the manufacturer's directions. Make sure you drink lots of water throughout the day to help D-mannose kill bacteria. Again, if symptoms persist for more than 24 hours or worsen, see a doctor.

D-mannose is not recommended for people with diabetes, and if you are taking other medicines, you should talk to a doctor before starting this treatment. Diarrhea is a common side effect.


Althaea officinalis, also known as marshmallow, is an anti-inflammatory herb widely available in powder, supplement and tea form. "Althaea officinalis is a softening herb that can soothe and coat the lining of the urinary tract to help reduce inflammation," says Rice. "Make a strong tea and sip it throughout the day."

Unfortunately, this herb will not cure a UTI, but it can alleviate some of the symptoms. Even more unfortunately, a bag of fluffy marshmallows will do nothing to help a UTI, but they will taste delicious.

Uva-ursi (or bear berries)

"Some research indicates that uva-ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) – also known as "bear berries" because bears like to eat them – is an effective herb for treating urinary tract infections, "says Erin Stair, MD, MPH, and founder of Well-being in bloom. The plant (also found as a supplement) has diuretic properties, which could help you piss off bacteria before they harm you. But uva-ursi is more than a natural water pill.

"The whole plant contains many active substances, such as arbutin (which converts to hydroquinone and acts as an antimicrobial agent), flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids, resin, gallic acid and the equal, "says Stair. Because uva-ursi has such powerful ingredients, you should take it with care.

Stair warns that the supplement has not yet been well studied in humans and should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, long-term use of hydroquinone can affect the liver and kidneys. New Jersey Department of Health. Hazardous Substance Information Sheet: hydroquinone. (2002). https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1019.pdf

So while uva-ursi has the potential to be quite powerful, it also carries risks. It may or may not treat a UTI, and it may or may not harm your liver. In this case, if you can take antibiotics, the traditional medical route seems to be a safer option.

Just add water

With one of these supplements, experts recommend dramatically increasing your water intake. Basically you're trying to flush out these little E. coli jerks, and the best way to do this is to pee. And there is no easier way to pee than by drinking lots of water.

Additionally, increasing your water intake can be a good barometer of infection. If you pee with little discomfort, keep drinking water and taking supplements, and you may be able to get rid of it by yourself. If your pee starts to hurt, burn, or show signs of blood, you know it's time to see a doctor.

How to prevent bladder infections

Although natural remedies are not guaranteed to get rid of the early symptoms of UTI, there are natural ways to discourage UTI from forming in the first place.

Now, before you start prevention, remember: if you are a woman, you are likely to get a UTI. It does not mean that you are rude or that you are doing something wrong. You have a vagina and that's how it goes.

Still, you can reduce your risk of infection, and most of the methods are free and easy.

Peeing after sex

There is a bit of a myth that an increased number of sexual partners leads to an increased risk of UTI. But a study from the University of Michigan found no link between the number of partners and the UTIs. Foxman B et al. (1990). Health behavior and urinary tract infection in university-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2324774 Instead, they found that peeing after sex was much more helpful in preventing UTIs than in limiting your sexual partners.

When you urinate, the pee itself flushes out your urethra. So that E. coli gets carried away before you have a chance to make your life miserable. Although it may seem like a tiny and insignificant thing, a quick pee after sex can save you days of painful urination.

Wipe from front to back

Do not pull the germs from your rectal area towards your vagina and urethra. Whenever you wipe it should be from the urinary area to the rectum.

Don't use a diaphragm

This same study from the University of Michigan also found that people who used diaphragms were twice as likely to have UTIs. Foxman B et al. (1990). Health behavior and urinary tract infection in university-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2324774 This does not mean that the diaphragms are not on the table, but be very careful to keep them clean. Any small piece of bacteria can cause a vaginal or urinary tract infection. Alternatively, you may consider changing your contraceptive method to decrease the risk of UTI.

Don't have sex

The University of Michigan study found that urinary tract infections increased dramatically with intercourse. Foxman B et al. (1990). Health behavior and urinary tract infection in university-aged women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2324774 So, if you have had problems with recurrent UTIs or if you think you might have an infection, it may be better to be less sexually active for a bit. This does not mean abstaining for the long term to avoid an UTI, but reducing sex right after an UTI can reduce your chances of recurring.

Make your pee acidic

The pH balance of your pee could have a significant effect on the recurrence of UTI. Dr. Eugene Charles, director of the Applied Kinesiology Center in New York, says that maintaining an acidic pH in the urinary tract can prevent the growth of bacteria.

A study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that acid pee limited bacterial growth. Shields-Cutler RR, et al. (2015). The human urinary composition controls the antibacterial activity of siderocalin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4481200/Unfortunately, trying to make your pee acidic after you've already had a UTI won't help. It's too little, too late. But if your urine stays acidic, it could stop E. coli to grow in the first place, thereby stopping recurrent infections.

And no, it's not like you have to start peeing on acid. In fact, the study found that urine, which was slightly more acidic than water, which is neutral on the pH scale, was the most effective at inhibiting the growth of bacteria. .

How do you make your urine more acidic? "This is best accomplished with a daily tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a tincture of cranberry, which should be incredibly sour," says Charles. "Otherwise, you mainly drink sugar, which spreads urinary tract infections."

Fortunately, while there is no guarantee that a UTI won't strike, there are natural ways to keep them at bay. But once they hit, it's best to go with antibiotics, so you can feel better right away and avoid more damaging infections. In the meantime, drink water, take some apple cider vinegar, and don't forget to pee after sex.

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