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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be quite unpleasant. For certain reasons, you may not want to take antibiotics. If you are researching natural remedies for a UTI, then this article will give you three of the most popular natural remedies for a UTI.
The National Kidney Foundation estimates that one in every five women will have a UTI in her lifetime and that women are more prone to developing UTIs than men.
I am among the 20% who has suffered from a UTI in a lifetime, but have fortunately not had a UTI in over a decade (Sorry for any TMI!).
Having a UTI is not only unpleasant, but can be frightening when you hear horror stories of infections spreading to kidneys, requiring hospitalization. Thus, many people would rather err on the side of caution by seeing a doctor early.
However, you may be among the people who would rather try natural remedies for a UTI first. I don’t blame you.
When I had my first (and last) spat with UTIs many years ago, I suffered three back-to-back UTIs. I took antibiotics for the first two, but based on the quick reoccurrence afterwards, I wanted to try something else the third time.
So, with my third UTI, I looked into natural remedies for a UTI. Not only did my UTI go away, but I never had one again! Thus, I was convinced that natural remedies finally made my body inhospitable to reoccurrences.
As you will read below, the natural remedies for a UTI that we list below can also prevent reoccurrences.
What is a UTI?
The term “urinary tract infection (UTI)” refers to a bacterial infection anywhere along the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes your kidneys, bladder, and tubes (i.e. ureters and urethra) that carry urine from your kidneys to the outside.
Health experts estimate that Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria account for 90% of UTIs. Thus, many treatments target E. coli bacteria, but you’d want to ensure your treatment covers other types of bacteria if your bacteria happens to be different.
Bladder infections are the most common type of UTI, according to the CDC, whereas kidney infections are less common. Thus, the horror stories of people suffering intense kidney pain and rushing to the hospital are, fortunately, less common.
Why You Might Seek Natural Remedies for a UTI
As I shared earlier, I was weary of taking antibiotics in such a consecutive fashion. I also questioned how well they worked, given that I experienced reoccurrences in less than a month both times.
I’m not against antibiotics, but know the dangers of taking antibiotics too frequently. For one, antibiotic overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance, where bacteria strains become resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a legitimate concern in the medical community if antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread quicker than scientists can find a cure.
Another danger from antibiotic overuse is the harm to your gut flora (i.e. the beneficial bacteria in your stomach and digestive tract). Having healthy bacteria in your gut influences your overall health and susceptibility to diseases and other medical conditions.
Unfortunately, just as antibiotics can kill bad bacteria, they can kill good bacteria as well. Thus, taking antibiotics on a continued or frequent basis jeopardizes your overall health.
3 Popular Natural Remedies for a UTI
1. Uva Ursi
I had a superb experience with uva ursi, so this plant is one of my most recommended natural remedies for a UTI.
Uva ursi (also known as bearberry or kinnikinnick) is a plant found all over the Northern Hemisphere. People use its leaves for medicinal purposes, most commonly for urinary tract issues.
A drug institute in Germany apparently approved uva ursi as treatment for UTI there, and uva ursi is available as an over-the-counter treatment for UTI in the United Kingdom.
Research shows uva ursi has antibacterial, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, research has supported uva ursi’s ability to combat bacteria in the urinary tract, particularly E. coli, and to prevent reoccurrence of a UTI afterwards.
Because of its astringent properties, uva ursi leaves are also commonly used in sitz baths to help soothe and repair any birthing trauma. Thus, midwives commonly use uva ursi in postpartum care.
Just be aware that taking too much uva ursi may result in adverse side effects, so you shouldn’t take it longer than you need to for treating a UTI.
D-Mannose is also one of the top recommended natural remedies for a UTI. D-mannose is a simple sugar found in certain fruits and vegetables that your body metabolizes and excretes through urine. Its presence hinders bacteria’s ability to cling to urinary tract walls.
This study supported D-mannose’s ability to significantly improve the symptoms of UTIs and to treat the underlying infection. Studies have also documented D-mannose’s ability to reduce the incidence of UTI reoccurrence in individuals and with less side effects than taking an antibiotic.
For powder, you would dissolve and drink it in water. Since D-mannose is a form of sugar, the dissolved powder would basically taste like sugar water.
3. 100% Cranberry Extract
Pure cranberry juice or extract is often suggested among the popular natural remedies for a UTI, but its efficacy is not well-supported for treating versus preventing UTIs. Anecdotally, I have heard women tout the efficacy of drinking cranberry juice to treat a UTI, but not very often.
Generally speaking, research supports that pure cranberry juice can help prevent the reoccurrence of a UTI, but its efficacy varies among individuals. In terms of cranberry juice’s ability to treat a UTI, however, research is lacking.
Given the lack of research, you may not want to rely on cranberry juice or extract as a sole means to treat an active UTI. Rather, you’d be better off using it to prevent possible UTI reoccurrences.
Indeed, I still take cranberry pills daily after my triple bout with UTIs years ago as a preventative measure. Maybe that’s why I haven’t had a UTI in over a decade now, but hard to say!
If you do opt for cranberry juice, just ensure it’s 100% cranberry juice. This study showed that women drinking a low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail with only 27% cranberry juice showed no reduction in the reoccurrence of UTIs compared to women who didn’t drink any. Thus, best to opt for 100% cranberry juice instead of the diluted cocktails more commonly sold in stores.
I find pills easier and more affordable, and with a much longer shelf life after opening.
Caution Against Relying on Natural Remedies for a UTI
It’s important to remember that different people may respond differently to different natural remedies for a UTI. Like with any treatment or medications, success is never a guarantee.
If you have a particularly bad UTI, or if your symptoms persist or worsen after trying any of the natural remedies, then you should see a healthcare professional to be safe. Be your own judge on whether your condition warrants professional attention and on whether you should try any of the natural remedies.
Resources – Natural Remedies for a UTI
Here are options to buy the above-listed natural remedies:
100% Cranberry Juice or Extract
So, there you have it with our article on three of the most popular natural remedies for a UTI. Please comment below with any thoughts you may have on the matter!