Desperate times call for desperate measures. And when you’re battling that incessant urge to urinate that comes with a urinary tract infection, it’s only natural that you’d want the quickest, most effective treatment to stop the discomfort and pain. But are antibiotics the only solution?
According to the National Kidney Foundation, 1 in 5 women will experience a UTI at some point in her life — a much higher rate than men as a result of the shorter distance from the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the body) to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder.
Roughly 90% of UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is naturally present in your body. The bacterium enters the urinary tract through the urethra and multiplies in the bladder. And although any part of your urinary system can be infected — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra — most infections involve the bladder and the urethra. The urinary system is designed to keep out such microscopic invaders, but these defenses sometimes fail. Other potential causes for UTIs include urinary tract abnormalities, blockages in the urinary tract, and a suppressed immune system.
While antibiotics are indeed effective in killing the bacteria responsible for the infection, and at times, necessary, they do not come without consequence. Among the many compelling reasons to avoid unnecessary antibiotics, consider this: roughly 70% of your immune system is located in your gut and is dependent on a balance of beneficial bacteria, all of which take a major blow with the administration of antibiotics.
Fortunately, there are several powerful natural remedies that can prove just as effective as antibiotics, yet without the potentially-damaging consequences. But before considering this route, a few notes of caution:
Consider natural remedies only during the early onset of a UTI, when painful urination and frequent urge to urinate are the only symptoms. Lower abdomen discomfort or blood in the urine indicates possible cystitis, or infection of the bladder, and may require antibiotics in order to prevent the bacteria from traveling and infecting the kidneys. Symptoms of pyelonephritis, or kidney infection, include upper back and side (flank) pain, high fever, shaking and chills, and nausea and vomiting. Acute kidney infection can lead to permanent kidney damage in adults, especially in children under 6 years old, as the kidneys are still developing. Lastly, women who experience two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year should consult with a physician.
Guide to Natural Remedy Options for Urinary Tract Infections (all remedies listed below are safe to be taken together):
Treatment with homeopathy is highly individualized and specific, but there are some basic remedies considered go-tos for specific ailments, UTIs being one of them. A few powerful remedies to consider include:
- Medorrhinum 200c, twice a day. In severe cases, every three hours. If a fever is present, add Pyrogenium 200c once a day.
- For frequent UTIs as a result of sexual intercourse, use Staphasagria 200ck twice a day. Without the presence of fever, add Cantharis 30c once a day.
D-mannose is a naturally occurring simple sugar and is the active ingredient in cranberry juice that gives it its purported benefits. D-mannose sticks to E. coli bacteria so it can be effectively “rinsed” out when you urinate and is best supplemented in pill or powder form versus cranberry juice.
- To treat an active UTI in adults, dissolve 2,000 mg D-Mannose powder in a cup of water and repeat every 2-3 hours, or take an equivalent dose in pill form.
- To treat an active UTI in children, dissolve 1,000 mg in a cup of water and repeat every 2-3 hours.
- To prevent UTIs, supplement 2,000 mg once daily.
Avoid consuming more water for 30 minutes after taking D-Mannose, as to not dilute and affect it’s potency. Follow this dosing for at least 5 days, and be sure to continue two to three days after symptoms have disappeared.
In both my personal and professional experience, this is likely the fastest and most effective natural remedy for UTIs. Combine 1 tsp coconut or almond oil with 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil, and rub over the bladder every hour until symptoms are significantly improved. Continue application for 2-3 days after symptoms are gone.
In addition to the natural remedies stated above, it is crucial to consume an adequate amount of water daily, ideally with freshly-squeezed lemon. A rough estimate of how many ounces of water to consume daily can be found by dividing your body weight, in pounds, in half. This will allow your body to effectively flush out the bacteria.
Sugar should be limited or eliminated until the infection is cleared. Sugar feeds bacteria and can hinder any efforts to successfully fight the infection.
Maintaining a Healthy Urinary Tract
The above natural remedies are powerfully effective, but a few key habits can help prevent the onset of infection:
- Urinate when you feel the need.
- Always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from entering your urethra.
- For those susceptible to UTIs, opt for showers instead of baths. When taking a bath, avoid adding bath products, and add baking soda to the bath water.
- Thoroughly cleanse your genital area with water immediately before and after sexual intercourse.
- Empty your bladder immediately before and after sexual intercourse.
- Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays.