11 Natural and Effective Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are an annoyingly common problem faced by ladies worldwide. Unfortunately, women experience UTIs more frequently than men because of a woman's shorter urethra (i.e. the tube that carries urine from the bladder) and the urethra's proximity to the back passage. 

According to estimates, more than 50% of women will contract a UTI during their lifetime, and 20% of those who do will have a repeat experience.

Men and women are both susceptible to this uncomfortable burning infection. However, a man who develops a UTI may have a more severe problem and should immediately seek the advice of a physician.

If you are one of the unlucky 50% of women who have suffered through a raging urinary tract infection, you will be painfully familiar with the not-so-fun symptoms:

Painful burning sensation during urination

Frequent urge to urinate

Cloudy, foul-smelling or dark urine

Blood in the urine

Lower abdominal pain

A urinalysis that shows a high amount of bacteria and white blood cells

A tiny bacterium is the cause of most UTI's. Foreign bacteria hook themselves to your urethra or your bladder, and an infection develops. 

Improper wiping after defecating or sexual intercourse is the most common way to introduce bacteria into the urinary tract. There are some other risk factors, including 

New sexual partners

Spermicide use

Bladder catheterisation

Urinary tract obstructions

Anatomic abnormalities

Diabetes

Hyperglycaemia

Menopause

Pregnancy

Mechanical trauma or irritation within the urinary system

UTIs are mostly harmless; however, an untreated infection can progress into more serious conditions like kidney stone formation or sepsis. A urinary tract infection could spread to the kidneys. Recurrent kidney infections can result in scarring or kidney failure, which could mean a lifetime of dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Due to the high risks associated with untreated UTIs, you should seek medical attention and discuss the benefits of both allopathic and natural forms of treatment with your physician.

The most common treatment for a UTI is a three to seven day course of antibiotics. In extreme cases, these medications may be necessary to ensure that more severe complications do not develop. Natural remedies for a UTI will usually reduce immediate symptoms, after which you should follow preventative measures.

Although effective, antibiotics may not be the best course of treatment for UTIs because they may contribute to the risk of chronic reoccurrences. However, if natural remedies are not sufficient, don't delay discussing antibiotics with your doctor and further investigation.

Although extremely irritating, most UTIs are harmless and safely managed using the following natural remedies and preventative measures.

 

6 Natural Remedies for Urinary Tract Infections

If experiencing a UTI, your most immediate concern will be relieving your extreme discomfort. Fortunately, several natural remedies have been shown to alleviate urinary tract irritation.

 

1. Cranberry

Most women run for the cranberry juice at the first sign of a UTI. Cranberry contains flavonoids that block bacteria from attaching themselves to the urethra/bladder walls. Drinking cranberry not only works quickly but also is shown to prevent UTIs. 

Avoid the high-sugar varieties of cranberry juice found on most grocery store shelves. Consuming added sugar will lead to a decreased immune response, impairing your body's ability to fight a UTI. Instead, choose high-quality cranberry juices that are unsweetened, or slightly sweetened with apple or grape juices. Unsweetened cranberry juice is usually available in health food stores.

 

2. Consume Plenty of Fluids

In addition to cranberry juices, drink plenty of other fluids throughout the day. The more you urinate, the better your body can flush those nasty little bacteria from your urinary tract. Drinking plenty of water also has a preventative effect.

Choose clean filtered water, herbal teas, or cranberry juice, and drink at least one 8-ounce glass of water every hour.

Some beneficial herbs to include in teas are:

Uva ursi/bearberry

Goldenseal

Birch leaves

Hydrangea

Bilberry or blueberry

Buchu

Kava Kava

Stinging nettle

Cleavers plant

Yarrow

Barley water

Rose hips

Marshmallow root

Dandelion

Burdock root

Echinacea flower root

 

3. Time Voiding or Void by the Clock

Merely emptying your bladder every two to three waking hours has proved an effective remedy for UTI symptoms. Set a reminder using your smartphone or another device, and attempt to urinate at those times. Continue the reminders until you no longer feel the symptoms.

Habitually avoiding urinating over long periods of time will increase your risk of urinary tract infection and may also lead to bladder cancer. Ensuring you void consistently throughout the day is essential to good bladder health.

 

4. Uva Ursi

Uva ursi, also known as bearberry or upland cranberry, is the most used herb to battle those painful UTI symptoms. Uva ursi is especially useful on the E. coli bacteria and is also known to increase the discharge of urine. 

E. coli has been found responsible for 90% of bladder infections in which the culprit bacteria gets identified.

Uva ursi is consumable as a tea or in supplemental form. Like the other alleviators on this list, it is also a great preventative measure.

It is important to note though, that you should not take excessive amounts of uva ursi, as it can produce side effects. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should not take this herb in any form.

 

5. Goldenseal

Goldenseal has a well-documented and long history of use for relief of urinary tract infections in the scientific literature. Like uva ursi, Goldenseal's antimicrobial properties act against E. coli.

Goldenseal is useful as a tea or supplement but not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers.

 

6. Include Celery, Parsley, and Watermelon in Your Diet

Celery, parsley, and watermelon are natural diuretics and cleansers, which help strengthen and support the urinary system. For greater potency, extracts are available at the health food store. 

Also consider juicing these foods at home, purchasing their juice or merely eating plenty of celery, parsley, and watermelon to alleviate UTI symptoms or as a preventative measure.

 

5 Preventative Measures for Those Suffering from Chronic UTIs

 In addition to the remedies listed above, there are plenty of natural ways to prevent recurring infection. Like any illness, once the person is free from symptoms, and hopefully, the bacteria causing the discomfort, it is time to employ prevention.

 

1. Practice Good Hygiene

Because the E. coli bacteria cause most UTI cases, and this bacterium usually originates from feces, good hygiene practices are critical. You can employ the following measures to improve your hygiene:

Urinate after sexual intercourse

Only use mild unscented soaps to wash the vagina

Keep anal and genital areas clean and dry

Wear clean cotton underwear; avoid nylon

Wipe from front to back after defecating

Do not delay bladder evacuation

Change into dry clothes immediately after swimming

Do not use "feminine hygiene" sprays

Use pads instead of tampons

 

2. Create an Environment for Healthy Flora 

If "bad bacteria" cause UTIs, then it's not such a leap to determine that maintaining healthy bacteria within the gut can help prevent recurring UTIs. Lactobacilli are a group of "good" probiotic bacteria that will decrease a woman's risk for UTI by 80%.

You can buy probiotic capsules and powders containing lactobacilli in health food stores and pharmacies. You also can get the bacteria from fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir; those with dairy allergies should, of course, avoid these. Also, food allergies often cause symptoms that mimic bladder infection.

 

3. High-Fiber Diet

Constipation increases your chance of contracting a UTI. Eating more fibre-rich foods and drinking more water is essential in alleviating constipation. A high-fibre diet also happens to be a whole-foods diet, which consists of:

Vegetables

Fruits

Nuts and seeds

Whole grains

Limited amounts of high-quality animal proteins

Healthy fats

The key here is to focus on eating a plant-based diet, but don't discount the importance of fats and animal proteins for good health overall.

 

4. Improve Immune System Function

A strong immune system is not only necessary to fight infection, but also to prevent infection, so improving yours is the best line of defence against UTIs. The prevention measures listed above are a great way to start building better immunity. Also, avoiding potential food allergens is imperative.

Allergens cause an immune reaction, which distracts the immune system from protecting the urinary system from "bad" bacteria. Because the immune system is using its resources to fight food allergens, it lacks the necessary resources to protect the urinary system. 

There are a few ideal ways to determine food allergens:

Consult a physician for testing

Keep a food diary detailing what you eat and how you feel after eating

Try a standard elimination diet

 

5. Avoid Certain Foods and Beverages

Avoid the following diet impurities as they can adversely affect the bladder:

Alcohol

Caffeine

Carbonated beverages

Coffee

Chocolate

Refined or processed foods

Simple sugars

 

Parting Wisdom

Although common, not all bladder infections are the same. The importance of contacting a physician cannot be understated, especially if you have experienced recurrent infections or are male.

The most common allopathic treatment for UTIs is antibiotics, which are helpful in extreme cases. However, you should discuss all options with your physician, as natural and preventative measures are shown to be effective in reducing urinary tract infection symptoms and preventing reoccurrence.

 

Supplements to help

Immune Formula -
Not only great for the immune system but the inclusion of goldenseal makes this a great remedy.

Rheumatism Root -
Although we made this formula for joint issues it contains both celery and dandelion root fantastic remedies against UTI's

Kidneywort Complex

We made this complex for exactly this reason. Horsetail provides relief for the UTI, while Buchu is an age old kidney remedy.

 

 

References

 

1. Balch, P. A. (2010). Prescription for Nutritional Healing: Fifth Edition. New York: The 

   Penguin Group 

 

2. Barnard, N., Weissinger, R., Jaster, B. J., Kahan, S., Smyth, C. (2009). Nutrition Guide 

   for Clinicians: Second Edition.Canada: Physicians Committee for Responsible 

   Medicine. 

 

3. Murray, M., Pizzorno, J. (1997). Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Revised 2nd 

   Edition. New York: Three Rivers Press.