Natural Remedies

Top 7 Natural Remedies for UTIs

By Justin Fowler-Lindner

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are some of the most common bacterial infections in women.

Although rarely life-threatening, they can be extremely uncomfortable and lower your quality of life.

Roughly 50 to 60 percent of women will develop UTI symptoms at some point in their lives, but men aren’t off the hook either…

Factors like diabetes and the use of catheters can increase UTIs in men. 

The real challenge, however, is that the bacteria linked to UTIs have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. For this reason, many people are searching for the best natural remedies for UTIs, which includes:

  1. D-mannose
  2. Bearberry (uva-ursi)
  3. Oregano oil
  4. Garlic
  5. Probiotics
  6. Vitamin C
  7. Cranberries

It’s also important to make healthy lifestyle choices, like staying clean and dry, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding the use of spermicides to avoid a urinary tract infection.

What Is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. It can involve the bladder, urethra, ureter, and kidneys. Bladder infections are the most common types of urinary tract infections.

UTI Causes and Risk Factors

UTIs are caused by an overabundance of certain bacterial strains. 

Bladder infections, in particular, are caused when bacteria from the bowels enter the bladder and urethra. In women, the majority of recurrent UTI cases are due to antibiotic resistant bacteria in the vaginal cavities and urethral opening.

Here are the most common UTI pathogens:

 

  • E.coli 
  • Klebsiella pneumonia
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis
  • Staphylococcus saprophyticus
  • Proteus mirabilis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

 

Some of the biggest risk factors are catheter use, diabetes, poor immunity, chronic stress, pregnancy, postmenopause, sexual intercourse, spermicide use, and diaphragm use.

Overall, sexually active women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most at risk.

UTI Symptoms

In most cases, UTI infections clear up within two to three days. However, patients with compromised immune systems can take up to 14 days and may require antibiotics. In severe instances, an untreated UTI can also lead to kidney infections.

Symptoms can include:

  • Burning/pain in the urethra or bladder while urinating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pain (women)
  • Confusion (elderly women)
  • Muscle aches
  • Frequent urination
  • Passing small amounts of urine despite having a strong, persistent urge to go
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Pink urine (indicates internal bleeding)
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

7 Natural Remedies for UTI

Most recurrent UTIs are caused by the same bacteria. This means that if you treat your UTI with antibiotics, it might come back even stronger. Natural remedies, on the other hand, remain effective and do not promote treatment-resistant bacteria.

Here are seven of the best natural remedies for UTI:

1. D-Mannose

D-mannose is a sugar that’s related to glucose, but unlike glucose, it inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria rather than fueling it. Plus, it’s also less likely to contribute to side effects like stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

UTIs cause bacteria to stick to the walls of the urinary tract, but fortunately, D-mannose can prevent this from happening.

In a 2014 study involving 308 women with a history of recurrent UTIs, participants were treated with either an antibiotic (nitrofurantoin), D-mannose, or a placebo. Patients in the D-mannose group had significantly fewer UTIs compared to the antibiotic group.

2. Bearberry (Uva-Ursi)

Bearberry is a small shrub that grows in northern latitudes. It contains an antimicrobial compound called uva-ursi that may reduce the risk of UTIs.

Uva-ursi can be ingested as a supplement or a tea. However, it should never be taken for more than 2-4 consecutive weeks because it can be hard on the liver.

Always consult with your doctor before using uva-ursi, especially if you’re taking it with other medications.

3. Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is well known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Recent research indicates that it may inhibit the growth of E. coli: the bacterial strain most commonly associated with UTIs.

For example, a 2012 study found that oregano oil can reduce clinical strains of E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

4. Garlic

Allicin is the active compound found in raw garlic that’s resistant to several strains of bacteria, including those linked to UTIs.

Research also shows that it can protect against candida: the fungus responsible for yeast infections. 

5. Probiotics

Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that balance the microbiome and may help prevent UTIs.

Bacterial flora are essential to the defense against infection and inflammation.

Studies indicate that healthy individuals have significantly higher ratios of healthy bacteria compared to people prone to urologic diseases.

6. Vitamin C

Vitamin C makes the urine more acidic, inhibits E. coli growth, and boosts the immune system.

For example, a 2007 study found that vitamin C may reduce UTIs in pregnant women. Participants in the study were treated with 100 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) a day for three months.

Researchers concluded that, “Daily intake of 100 mg of ascorbic acid played an important role in the reduction of urinary infections, improving the health level of the gestating women. We recommend additional vitamin C intake for pregnant women in populations which have a high incidence of bacteriuria and urinary infections.”

7. Cranberry Juice

Do you struggle with recurrent UTIs?

Researchers believe that cranberry products may inhibit the colonization of E.coli.

According to a recent review of 24 studies, “Cranberry juice may decrease the number of symptomatic UTIs over a 12-month period, particularly for women with recurrent UTIs.”

With that said, 14 of these studies found that, in most cases, cranberry juice isn’t as effective as previously indicated. The overall conclusion was that cranberry juice is best-suited for the ongoing prevention of UTI symptoms rather than fast-acting treatments.

Just make sure to drink unsweetened cranberry juice instead of sweetened cranberry juice because sugar promotes unhealthy gut bacteria.

How to Manage a UTI

Not only are UTIs painfully common and uncomfortable, they also present prolonged challenges since urinary tract infections are likely to return within six months.

Along with natural remedies for UTIs like D-mannose and probiotics, proper self-care can be part of an effective treatment protocol as well. Healthy lifestyle habits, like staying clean and dry, are essential to UTI prevention. When it’s time to actively treat a UTI, make sure to increase water intake and urinate frequently.

When symptoms like pelvic and muscle pain are at their worst, applying a heating pad can also be helpful. If you’re taking prescription medications, always talk to your doctor before trying any of these natural remedies for the first time. And to help prevent UTIs from ever occurring, you should always stay hydrated and avoid wearing tight clothing for long periods of time.

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