The symptoms of a bladder infection (also called a urinary tract infection or UTI) can be completely uncomfortable. And while the first line of treatment for most doctors requires prescription antibiotics, the truth is they are often not needed, and can lead to problems like bacterial resistance and damage to the digestive tract.
So what can you do to avoid using antibiotics? In some cases, mild UTIs can resolve on their own if you let the body’s natural defenses take over. And if you want to be sure to clear the infection and get rid of your symptoms, try these natural UTI treatment options that will support your body.
Symptoms of a UTI
You may have a UTI if you experience some of the following symptoms:
• frequent urge to urinate
• cloudy or dark urine
• a burning sensation when urinating
• the sense of incomplete bladder emptying
• pain or discomfort in the bladder and lower abdomen.
Some people tend to have UTIs often, which is referred to as recurrent infections.
If your symptoms last only a few days, then your body may well have cleared the infection on its own. But if your symptoms last longer than that, and if they are accompanied by severe symptoms like a fever, you should consult with your doctor for the safest course of action.
Home remedies for UTIs
In many cases, these simple and effective natural UTI treatment options can help rid your infection without antibiotics:
Probiotics. An important thing to consider when managing a UTI is using good, healthy bacteria to combat the bad ones that are causing your infection. Most UTIs are caused by gram-negative bacteria like E. coli (which accounts for about 80 percent of all UTIs). To help your body, you can supplement with probiotics, which are the good kind of bacteria that help keep us healthy.
Most studies find that strains such as Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus ramnosus, and Lactobacillus fermentum are the most effective in fighting and blocking UTIs. Look for a probiotic supplement that includes these specific bacterial strains. You can also try eating fermented foods, which are a natural source of healthy probiotics.
Cranberry. The most well known natural UTI treatment for UTIs is cranberry. Research shows that cranberry is effective in managing UTIs, especially in preventing them.[3,4] In one study, patients with recurrent UTIs who took a cranberry supplement had a 73.3 percent reduction in UTI occurrence.
Researchers now know why it is such a great remedy for UTIs: it is an anti-adhesion agent, meaning that it inhibits bacteria from sticking to the lining of your urinary tract, preventing infection. Some of the active compounds in cranberries include antioxidants called proanthocyanidins.
When most people think of using cranberry for a UTI, they think of drinking cranberry juice. But cranberry juice is often loaded with sugar, so it isn’t a great option. Look for tablet or capsules that contain cranberry extract (somewhere between 500 to 1,500 mg daily) or cranberry juice (about 10 oz daily) that has no added sugars. It can be hard to know how much of the active ingredient is included in any given cranberry supplement, so be sure to choose a high quality brand and experiment to find one that works best for you.
D-mannose. One of the reasons cranberry is an effective natural UTI treatment is because it contains D-mannose. This specific type of sugar molecule is known to reduce the risk of recurrent UTI and help treat the infections, as it inhibits the adherence of bacteria to the cells lining the urinary tract.[1,3] Try one to 2 g of D-mannose powder daily while symptoms last.
Garlic. Recently, researchers found that garlic may be an effective natural remedy for UTIs as well. In particular, one laboratory study found that garlic was effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria in the urine of people with UTIs. They found that while 56 percent of the bacterial strains found in the urine were resistant to antibiotics, 82% of those resistant bacteria were affected by an extract of garlic.
Although no clinical studies have been able to investigate if supplementing with garlic can help eliminate UTI symptoms, boosting your garlic intake is worth a try. Try eating garlic incorporated into your food, or look for capsules of a garlic supplement (if you don’t like the taste) to take until your symptoms subside. Plus, garlic can help lower your blood pressure, too (read more about it here).
Prevention of UTIs
To stop an infection occurring in the first place, take these precautions: drink plenty of water, be sure to urinate before and after sex, wear cotton underwear, and avoid scented products like toilet paper or feminine products.
There are a variety of all-natural solutions to treat a UTI. So don’t head to the doctor first to get an antibiotic; you can likely resolve your symptoms at home with these herbs and supplements. At the very first sign of an infection, be sure to up your probiotic intake. Add in cranberry extract, D-mannose, or garlic if needed. Be sure to stay hydrated and watch your symptoms carefully. If they become severe or persist for longer than a few days to a week, consult with your doctor.
Share your experience
What is your strategy for natural UTI treatment? Share any tips for prevention and treatment in the comments section below.
Contributing editor Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.
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