Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be painful and can also result in a trip to the doctor’s office and a prescription for an antibiotic. But there are natural remedies for UTIs that you can employ to avoid the doctor (and prescription) altogether, and for far less money too.
The signs and symptoms of a UTI can include:
- Cloudy or bloody urine, accompanied by an unusually foul odor;
- In some people, a low-grade fever;
- Pain or burning upon urination;
- Pressure/cramping in the lower abdomen or back;
- A strong need to urinate often, even after you have just emptied your bladder
As the infection spreads, you may experience a higher fever with chills, pain in the sides, back or groin and a general feeling of being ill.
But the best medicine, they say, can be prevention. Here are some common natural preventive measures that you can take to avoid UTIs in the first place:
Get plenty of vitamin D: A number of health conditions can be prevented or corrected by adequate daily intake of vitamin D, and UTIs are one of them. According to a 2011 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that vitamin D helps increase production of special antimicrobial peptides in the body that prevent infection from harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, including those which trigger UTIs.
D-mannose: This somewhat bitter but naturally occurring sugar found in cranberries is another powerful natural weapon to fight UTIs. Isolated D-mannose is believed to be the primary active ingredient in cranberries, and it is up to 50 times stronger than just using cranberries to target UTIs (meaning this is probably a preferred treatment over cranberries alone). This bittersweet, naturally occurring sugar can help both prevent the formation and accumulation of harmful bacteria in your urinary tract and allow the beneficial bacterial in your intestinal tract to flourish.
Cranberries: And speaking of cranberries, Native Americans and early American settlers used them as a powerful fighter of infections in general, with the latter believing that they could help stave off scurvy. A recent meta-analysis of data found that drinking cranberry juice or consuming cranberry-containing products regularly can help stave off UTIs particularly in women. The study, which was published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that regular juice drinkers were 38 percent less likely than non-drinkers to develop UTIs.
Uva ursi: Also known as “bearberry,” uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) grows in the northern United States and Europe, and has diuretic, astringent and antiseptic qualities. It has also been effectively used to treat UTIs, though the urine must be alkaline for it so be effective. That means that you should not use it in conjunction with cranberry juice, which makes the urine acidic. Also, you’ll want to limit your use, because in high doses, uva ursi is toxic (so anyone who has a kidney infection already, or pregnant women, will want to avoid it).
Baking soda: Drinking baking soda mixed in water at the first signs of a UTI can quickly neutralize your urine and kill any bacteria living in it. You can mix as little as a single tablespoon of baking soda in water and then drink it several times throughout the day to treat minor, uncomplicated UTIs and thus prevent them from worsening.
Probiotic supplementation: Researchers at the Langone Medical Center at New York University recommend living probiotics supplementation to help keep UTIs from occurring, especially those that may originate in the bladder. Based on the results of a double-blind trial involving 453 women who had experienced regular and recurring bladder infections, probiotic blends containing a unique and harmless strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) were found to be particularly effective at treating and curing UTIs.
J. D. Heyes