I am a woman in my late 20s and suffer from recurring urinary tract infections. I normally resort to a course of antibiotics to clear up the infection but would now like to try some natural remedies. Do you have some suggestions for me? With thanks. KA.
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur more often in women than men and are most commonly caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), which attach to the bladder wall, or, in rarer cases, a fungus such as Candida. You will know you have a UTI when you experience burning when urinating and the need to urinate frequently, although urine output may be minimal. It is also possible to have a temperature.
There are several natural alternatives you can try to get rid of a UTI infection; but try to nip things in the bud by tackling the problem as soon as symptoms appear. Recurring UTIs can cause damage to the kidneys if left untreated.
D-mannose, a naturally occurring hexose sugar (closely related to glucose), is the active component in cranberry. Research has shown that this compound prevents the offending bacteria from clinging to the bladder wall.
A study published in the World Journal of Urology showed that D-mannose powder is efficient in UTI prevention in study participants over a six-month period. Study participants included 308 women. Of the 103 women who received 2 g of D-mannose dissolved in 200 ml of water daily only 15 suffered recurrent UTI. In the other treatment arm, 21 women out of 103 suffered recurrent UTI, and 62 out of 102 women in the placebo group suffered recurrent UTI.1
Immunologist Professor Patrick Bouic recommends the herb buchu as a natural antibiotic for the treatment and relief of UTIs. ‘As a potent natural anti-inflammatory, buchu acts fast to reduce inflammation caused by a bladder infection. The potent antibacterial properties of buchu target the source of the infection.’
Buchu can be enjoyed as a tea or herbal water but ‘ingesting buchu capsules, made up of scientifically formulated buchu oil and a carrier oil, will yield the most effective results,’ explains Professor Bouic.
According to biochemist Dr John Glynn, goldenseal has proven antimicrobial properties, including berberine, that prevents bacteria from clinging to the bladder wall.
It is best taken in capsule or extract form as it really tastes unpleasant. Use Goldenseal for an acute bladder infection and not prevention as it cannot be taken for more than two weeks.
Dr Glynn advises that women, in particular, will benefit from supplementing with probiotics: ‘they boost the inner healing and regulate inflammation, they oppose invasion by hostile bacteria. They are particularly effective in treating recurring infections.’
PERSONAL LIFESTYLE TIPS
Finally, there are personal daily habits that you can practise to help prevent UTIs. Dr Glynn advises: ‘Applying scrupulous sexual hygiene, increasing fluid intake, reduce white sugar and flour products, changing to natural cotton undergarments, avoiding synthetic or artificial soaps and intimate products, and urinating after sexual activity. One particularly effective measure is to void the bladder whilst showering, as the warm water encourages complete bladder emptying. Residual urine is the source of recurring infection, as it provides the “seeding” for further infection.’
The advice from these experts should help you but if your UTI infection persists, you may have to consider antibiotics.
1. Kranjcec B, Papes D, et al. D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial. World J Urol. 2014;(32):79-84.