UTI is a common type of infection that can occur in both men and women. It often calls for a course of antibiotics, however, these medications can cause various side effects besides eradicating the infection. A common one is a disruption to the gut flora, which may lower your immune system and put you at risk of other health issues. For this reason, one may want to try natural remedies for UTI.
In today’s article, we will look at the proven remedies that can help eliminate a urinary tract infection without medication.
What is a Urinary Tract Infection?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra.
Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E.coli), Klebsiella pneumoniae, or Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
These bacteria normally live in the intestines and are harmless. However, when shed in feces, they can spread to the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder.
Most UTIs are not serious, but some bacteria can travel to the kidneys and cause more serious infections.
Risk factors for developing UTIs
UTIs are more common in women than men. This is because the female urethra is shorter than the male urethra (the tube from the bladder to where the urine comes out of the body), making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause an infection.
Also, the urethra in women is closer to the rectum, so bacteria can easily transfer and gain access to the urinary tract.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, about 10 in 25 women will develop symptoms of a UTI during their lifetime, while only 3 in 25 men will experience the same.
2. Compromised immunity
UTIs are also more common in people with weakened immunity. This is because the body is not able to fight the causative agent, and the infection can reach a more advanced stage before your immune system can respond or even bring about the symptoms.
Lupus is one of the conditions that can significantly lower your immune system and make you susceptible to easy infections. Old age is another factor as well.
Otherwise, a strong immune system can abort an infection before it can even develop.
UTIs can also occur in people who have had a catheter (a tube used to empty the bladder) inserted.
A catheter is an external object and thus can provide an entry point for bacteria if the procedure is not done under sterile conditions.
Additionally, germs can travel along the tube and cause an infection in the bladder and sometimes the kidney.
The hormonal changes during pregnancy can alter the natural bacteria in the urinary tract, making you more susceptible to infections.
People with diabetes are more likely to get UTIs because they have higher levels of sugar in their urine. This sugar creates an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria, which can lead to infection.
People with diabetes are also more likely to have other health problems that can increase their risk of UTI.
For example, they may have kidney issues or nerve damage that makes it difficult for them to empty their bladder completely. This can allow bacteria to grow and cause an infection.
6. Blockage in the urinary tract (such as from an enlarged prostate)
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate secretes a fluid that makes up part of the semen.
The prostate gland enlarges with age, which can cause problems with urination. An enlarged prostate can block urine flow from the bladder out through the urethra, which can lead to urinary retention, creating a breeding ground for infections.
7. Kidney stones
Kidney stones are hard deposits that can form in the kidney and block the flow of urine. This can also lead to bacteria building up in the urinary tract and causing a UTI.
8. Sexual activity
Intercourse can introduce bacteria into the urethra, which is the opening to the bladder. This is more likely to occur if you have multiple sexual partners and do not use protection.
Symptoms of a UTI
In order to be able to suspect a UTI, you need first to understand the symptoms.
The common ones include
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation or pain when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic region
- In severe cases, one may develop fever, nausea, vomiting, and lower back pain. In this case, antibiotics are necessary to prevent further advancement of the infection.
Natural Remedies for UTIs
Cranberry extract is one of the most popular natural remedies for UTIs. Cranberry extract contains compounds that act as an irritant to bacteria, causing them to die off. It also increases the acidity of urine, making it more difficult for bacteria to survive.
In one review, taking cranberry juice and supplements was shown to Lower the risk of developing UTI recurrence in healthy women at risk by up to 26 percent.
Another study found that taking cranberry juice capsules could lower the risk of UTIs in pregnant women undergoing gynecological procedures like surgeries that required a urinary catheter to be put in place.
In the study, women undergoing elective gynecological surgery and having a catheter inserted received cranberry juice capsules 2 times a day for 1 group, while the other group received a placebo. The study lasted for 6 weeks post-surgery. After the study, the occurrence of UTI in the cranberry group decreased by 38% compared to 19% in the placebo group.
That being said, there’s limited information on the use of cranberry either as a juice or extract in treating an active UTI. Instead, it has been shown to work best as a preventive mechanism.
Nonetheless, combining with standard UTI treatment can fasten your recovery. Cranberries are one of the greatest natural remedies for UTI.
Goldenseal is a perennial herb native to southeastern Canada and eastern North America.
It is a common ingredient in herbal teas and traditional medicines and has been used for centuries to treat urinary tract infections and other ailments.
The active ingredient in goldenseal is berberine, which has been shown to have antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), the most common cause of UTIs.
In one study, people with recurrent UTIs given a combination of plant extracts containing berberine were less likely to get another UTI than those given the mix without berberine.
Berberine has also been shown to stop bacteria adhesion to the bladder walls, potentially preventing an infection.
Additionally, berberine can prevent Candida albicans, a fungus naturally present in the body, from multiplying excessively, which can lead to a fungal infection.
Moreover, goldenseal contains other compounds with potential antibacterial activity, including hydrastine and canadine.
You can get it in capsules, tablets, and tinctures. It can also be brewed into tea.
This remedy is considered safe for most people, but when using it, ensure you follow the directions on the product label.
That being said, sensitive individuals may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. So, start with a low dose and see how your body responds. Golden Seal is another one of the greatest natural remedies for UTI.
Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Allicin, the compound in garlic that gives it its characteristic odor, is a powerful antibacterial agent. In addition to fighting bacteria, garlic also helps to reduce inflammation and pain. For these reasons, garlic is an excellent natural remedy for UTIs.
In lab studies, allicin has been shown to exhibit antibacterial effects against various UTI causative agents, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella pneumonia.
Garlic is also a natural diuretic, which can help flush out bacteria from your system. To use garlic as a UTI treatment, eat two or three cloves of raw garlic each day, or take a garlic supplement. You can also try drinking a cup of garlic tea each day.
However, high doses of garlic can interact with some medications such as blood thinning ones, so always talk to your doctor before using garlic supplements if you are on any of such medications.
D-mannose is a simple sugar molecule that can be found in various fruits, including cranberries, ranges, and apples.
This sugar is known to prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). When bacteria enter the urinary tract, they can attach to the walls of the bladder and cause an infection. D-mannose can help prevent this by binding to the bacteria and preventing them from attaching to the bladder’s walls.
This helps to flush out bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids when you’re taking D-mannose so that it can be flushed out of your system quickly. You should also urinate frequently to help flush out any bacteria that may be present in your urinary tract.
For treating UTI, D-mannose is usually taken as a supplement in tablet form or as a powder.
In one study, women with an active urinary tract infection and a history of recurrence were put on 1.5-grams of D-mannose twice daily for the 1st 3 days followed by the same dose once daily for an additional 10 days. At the end of the study, there was a significant resolution in the symptoms and condition management in general.
Further administration for 6 more months as a prophylactic remedy was also shown to be more effective in preventing recurrences.
That being said, D-mannose is a sugar and may not be appropriate for people that have challenges regulating their glucose levels.
Other than that, D-mannose is considered safe but can cause diarrhea in some sensitive individuals.
There’s no established dosage of how much you should take, but research falls between 1.5–2 grams up to 3 times daily.
5. Bearberry leaf
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a low-growing evergreen shrub that is native to North America, Europe, and Asia.
The leaves of the bearberry plant have been used for centuries as a folk remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Numerous scientific studies have shown that bearberry leaf extract has potent antimicrobial activity against a wide range of bacteria, including the bacteria that cause UTIs.
In addition, bearberry leaf extract appears to promote the healing of urinary tract tissue.
The leaves are dried and made into an extract or tea, which is then drunk several times a day. Bearberry leaf tea can also be used as a douche or topical application.
Human studies on the use of bear leaf to treat UTI is limited, but various compounds in the leaf extract have been shown to be effective in fighting various microbial agents.
For instance, it’s a good source of Arbutin, a compound with antibacterial effects against E.coli, the causative agent for most UTIs.
That being said, the long-term safety of bearberry extract has not been established, especially because it can cause liver and kidney damage. So if you decide to use this remedy to treat UTI, don’t exceed 1-2 weeks of use at a time.
6. Increase your vitamin C intake
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help boost your immune system and fight off infections, including urinary tract infections. You can get vitamin C from citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, and tomatoes. You can also take a supplement. Vitamin C is one of the greatest natural remedies for UTI.
7. Drink a lot of water
Water is the best medicine for a UTI as it helps flush out the bacteria causing the infection. Aim to drink eight glasses of water daily, or more if you can. And make sure to urinate frequently to aid the process of bacteria elimination. Water is yet another one of the natural remedies for UTI.
When to See a Doctor
If you are using a natural remedy for your UTI and are not seeing any improvement after a few days, it is time to see a doctor. Likewise, if your symptoms get worse or you develop new symptoms, such as fever or chills, you should also see a doctor.
UTIs can be uncomfortable, painful, and inconvenient. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies that may help you to manage your UTI symptoms and possibly even prevent them from occurring in the future.
These remedies include cranberry juice and extract, garlic, increasing your water intake, D-mannose, and Goldenseal.
It is important to remember that these remedies should not replace medical advice, so it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor if you’re experiencing any severe symptoms of a UTI.
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