UTIs: natural treatment of urinary tract infections

UTIs are infections in any part of your urinary system. This type of infections is usually found in the lower part of the tract: the bladder and the urethra. Women, due to their physiologically different urinary tract, suffer UTIs more frequently than men.

What is the origin of UTIs?

The vast majority of UTIs happen when foreign bacteria enter the bladder and replicate without control, and the immune system is unable to eliminate the infection.

There are two main types of UTIs:

-Bladder infections, also called cystitis. 90% of these infections are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli, which is commonly found in the digestive tract.

The culprit of almost all UTIs.

-Infection of the urethra or urethritis. This occurs when bacteria are transmitted during sexual intercourse or when bacteria pass from the anus to the urethra.

How can I prevent UTIs?

Women, due to their shorter urethra, are more prone to developing UTIs. Here are some strategies that can help you prevent these infections:

-Use protection during intercourse

-Use different towels for the anus and the body

-Drink water and urinate after sex

-Avoid overuse of antibiotics

-Use probiotics in order to help your bowel flora

-Incorporate healthy habits such as drinking a lot of water during the day

How are UTIs diagnosed?

There are several methods that are helpful for diagnosing UTIs:

-Urine test

-Bacteria cultures from the urine

-Urethral discharge cultures

-Image methods: MRI, cystoscopy, ultrasound and scanner.

These tests will help to determine which pathogen has caused the infection and the amount of damage it has already done.

Fungal UTIs:

Fungal UTIs don’t show significant symptoms but are quite common. However, they are usually limited to the vagina and penis. Almost all women in the world will at some point suffer from a vulvovaginal infection due to Candida albicans. Equally, many men will suffer circinate balanitis caused by unprotected sexual intercourse. In any case, doctors agree that asymptomatic patients shouldn’t be treated. Fungal bladder or urethral infections are very uncommon and should always be treated with antifungals. Several natural compounds seem to be useful in-vitro but failed to show any efficacy in-vivo. We therefore don’t recommend them. Probiotic use IS recommended in vulvovaginal fungal infections.

Scheme of bladder infections

Conventional treatment of UTIs:

Conventional treatment of UTIs is based on antibiotics. The type of bacteria will determine the agent that should be used. Generally, UTIs caused by sexually transmited bacteria should be treated with antibiotics as they don’t respond to any natural therapy. The scale of the infection will also determine the duration of the treatment. As an example, kidney infections will usually need prolonged courses of antibiotics. Antibiotics are very effective for UTIs caused by sexually transmited bacteria but normally fail to cure UTIs caused by gastrointestinal organisms. Not only that, it can produce resistant strains and chronic disease. In this second case, there are quite a few natural supplements that will help us fighting the infection in its origin.

Natural UTIs treatment:

Urinary flora is strictly related to UTIs. Furthermore, there is enough evidence to recommend supplementation with probiotics. In this small study probiotics reduced UTIs symptoms and were recovered in urine, this meaning that these organisms can reach the urinary tract. Urinary tract flora and its dysbiosis is being studied as one of the possible culprits of UTIs. We conclude that lactic acid bacteria (the only probiotics studied for the prevention and treatment of UTIs) can be recommended for both acute and chronic disease. Choose a supplement that contains at least 50 billion organisms and 6 different strains per dose. Consumption of kefir (fermented milk which is very rich in lactic acid bacteria) may be also a good idea.

On the other hand, there’s the most widely-spread home remedy for UTIs: drinking cranberry juice. Scientists studied this juice and found that one of its sugars, called D-Mannose, isn’t absorbed in the organism and is expelled through the urinary tract while fighting Escherichia coli and impeding its survival on the walls of the urethra and bladder. A very large and well designed study confirmed these findings: 2 grams of D-Mannose per day seem to be more effective than conventional antibiotics for the treatment of UTIs caused by Escherichia coli, which is the culprit in 90% of all UTIs. Doses up to 4 grams per day have been used in acute phases of the disease. D-Mannose, as was mentioned earlier, isn’t absorbed by the organism and shouldn’t worry diabetics and people who are sensitive to insulin. Finally, D-Mannose should be consumed together with diuretic foods such as celery, pear, grapes or just plenty of water. Remember D-Mannoseonly fights Escherichia coli and will be useless against sexually transmited bacteria.

Vitamin C inhibits the growth of Escherichia coli and acidificates the urine. In one study, supplementation with 100 grams of vitamin C resulted in fewer chances of suffering an UTI.

Finally, there are some natural compounds that can regulate the growth of E. coli in the human bowel. However, we only recommend these compounds for patients who have suffered from several recurrent UTIs that are resistant to D-Mannose. In any case, since these compounds are still antibiotics and can affect the bowel flora, we can only recommend them for certain cases that are resistant to other therapies. Our favourite natural compounds are monolaurin, a monoglyceride found in coconut oil, oregano oil and allicin. Oregano oil should be taken together with olive or coconut oil as (due to its strength) it could burn the esophagus. Allicin, a compound found in garlic, is able to kill E. coli in-vitro. There is no evidence to suggest that these compounds can reach the urinary tract therefore they’re likely to only be useful for the gastrointestinal strains of the bacteria.

Mind map for the treatment of UTIs

Tips for a successful fight against UTIs:

-Sexually transmited disease: antibiotics+probiotics

Escherichia coli UTI: D-Mannose 2 grams daily+ Vitamin C 100mg daily+ 50 billions of live organisms daily.

-Chronic Escherichia coli UTI: D-Mannose 4 grams daily+ Vitamin C 100mg daily+ 50 billions of live organisms daily+oregano oil+allicin+ monolaurin.

-Other UTIs: Antibiotics+ Probiotics.

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