A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) can drive you crazy and be quite painful. Usually, a doctor would prescribe antibiotics – the most popular being Bactrim, Cipro, and Macrobid. However, these medications come with problematic side effects, and they’re quite a few patients who may get relief, but then the UTI comes back.
Different bacteria cause UTIs, but they all secrete a protein called urease. This is why if you go to the doctor, he will diagnose you with a urine dipstick (which detects urease in the urine). Urease is the compound that we believe allows those bacteria to stick to the cells in your kidney and cause an infection. So if you can inhibit or stop urease production, you can prevent a UTI. The following is a list of natural treatment options. Some have some science behind them. Others are based on feedback heard from patients based on personal use.
Many patients who have had recurrent UTI give this treatment a try with pretty good results. Also, it’s cheap, and often you probably have some sitting around on your spice rack.
Most of the comments recommend taking 1/4 teaspoonful every 4 hours by mouth at the first sign of infection. Some people put 1/4 teaspoon on a bit of food and eat it down. Others will put some water in their mouth, tip their head back, pour the cayenne pepper into their mouth, and swallow. Then follow this up with 6 or 8 ounces of water to wash it down.
Cayenne pepper can irritate some people, so if it does, go and get some cayenne pepper capsules. The most significant side effect is usually stomach irritation.
It has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Also, it’s readily available and inexpensive. Like cayenne pepper, though, it can be a bit harsh to take. Garlic supplements to be overpriced and ineffective. So, if you can’t take it raw for whatever reason, so you don’t waste your money. The allicin component of garlic is only activated when the clove is crushed.
To start it, take an excellent broad-bladed knife – like a butcher knife – and turn it sideways so as to destroy the clove with the side of the blade. Then let it sit for a few minutes and then mince it up. You can sprinkle it over the food. Some people can tolerate simply downing the clove after crushing it, but it can irritate the stomach a bit.
There is no specific dosing for garlic, although the excellent idea is to have a clove with each meal.
The real reason you’ll hear cranberry juice recommended for UTI is that it contains D-mannose, a substance similar in structure to glucose.
D-mannose works because it can attach itself to E. coli bacteria, a bug that causes the majority of UTIs. By binding to E. coli, it prevents the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract and is instead eliminated from your body when you urinate.
One of the nice things about D-mannose is that not many side effects have been reported – so it’s well tolerated. And it appears to be safe in children and the elderly. It’s also available in supplement form.
Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
For UTIs that may not be caused by E. coli (and often don’t respond to cayenne pepper), GSE may be a good option (along with Olive Oil extract below).
You can purchase GSE capsules online as they are reasonably priced and more convenient than buying grapefruit, extracting the seeds, and crushing them.
If you buy the GSE in powder form, I will shoot for one teaspoonful every two hours with plenty of water. Keep that same dosing regiment up until you have been free of symptoms for at least five days. Once you reach that point, continue to take the GSE but every four to six hours for another five days. Then, finally, cut back to twice a day for another five days.
Olive Leaf Extract (OLE)
Most people take it with the GSE above. It’s generally recommended to take it in supplement form. The dosing regimen is the same as GSE, with four OLE capsules at each dose. Once you’ve reached the daily preventative dose stage, take one OLE capsule.
It has been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans (called Bearberry) and European countries to treat UTIs. However, there are a couple of essential points you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Uva Ursi requires that your urine be alkaline to work. Acidic urine destroys its antibacterial effects.
- It cannot be given to children or women who are pregnant.
- It should be taken for no more than five days because hydroquinone (one of the main components) can hurt your liver. This makes it a poor choice for long-term UTI prevention.
- Nausea, vomiting, and insomnia are known side effects.
Talk to your doctor first if you want to consider Uva Ursi, as it can also have drug interactions with lithium, NSAIDs, and Iron.
Oil of Oregano (OO)
Like Uva Ursi, Oil of Oregano (OO) contains large phenols. It has also been studied in humans. One of the most exciting things about OO is that those large phenols got broken down in the patient’s bodies into more but smaller phenols in the urine. As a result, it caused an increase in the number of phenols seen, which may explain why OO tends to be effective for UTIs.
Be careful though, the OO used in this study was explicitly labeled as Organic Mountain-Grown Mediterranean Oil of Oregano. You’ll want to dilute the OO in water. You can start with four drops in 6 to 8 ounces of water and drink three times daily.
One of the tricky things about UTIs is that they can form a protective shell around the bacteria attached to the cells in your kidney, making them difficult to treat. These are referred to as Biofilms. So the current thinking is that if a UTI is complicated to treat or comes back often, then it may be due to the formation of biofilms.
One of the natural treatment options you may want to consider is Biofilm Disruptors. But, as the name implies, it breaks up the biofilm – but doesn’t kill the bacteria. So you’ll want to take something else for that in addition to the disruptor.
Word of Warning: when you take Biofilm Disruptors, you need to know that you can experience a Herxheimer Reaction. As the enzyme dissolves the biofilm that the bacteria encase themselves in, toxins can release as the bacteria are killed by the herb or medicine, making you feel even worse. These disruptors can also break up coagulated blood deposits, which can be dangerous as well.
Note: Biofilm Disruptors are a promising treatment addition for stubborn UTIs but make sure to discuss these with your doctor before taking them.
Avoid Cranberry Juice!
If you’ve read about UTI’s you’ll often see recommendations to use cranberry juice – but this advice is wrong.
Cranberry juice contains high amounts of sugar, which is counterproductive to treating any infection. Also, the active ingredient that does the work of killing the infection is D-mannose. To get the concentrated amounts you need without the sugar, opt for a supplement form.
UTI can be preventable if you take necessary precautions. These natural remedies and tried by several people, but before you decide to try any treatment, make sure to consult your healthcare professional to ensure these natural methods are safe to try.