Bladder infections are not fun for anyone, and the doctor’s visit that often accompanies them isn’t any more exciting. Since our homestead has survived countless urinary tract infections (UTI), I thought I would share the methods that were working for us.
Garlic – This is frequently my first step in treating any infection at our house. Garlic is a natural, broad-spectrum antibiotic and has been shown to be more effective than it’s prescription counterparts, such as penicillin. Be sure to use garlic that is crushed or cut and raw. Allicin, a powerful compound found in garlic, needs to be as raw as possible to work and crushed or cut to be released or activated. Use it in your foods or just take it as a medicine by eating or brewing in a tea.
Vitamin C – It’s not uncommon to hear a suggestion of this immune-boosting vitamin at the first sign of a cold, but it’s easily overlooked as a treatment for UTI’s. Vitamin C will not only help boost your immune system (Remember – a UTI is an infection in your body. Any infection can reduce your immune system’s strength), but it will also make your urine more acidic, which means bacteria will be less able to thrive.
Water – Drink up! Water is a vital part of our anatomy. Consuming water will help flush the bacteria out of your body each time you urinate. It might be tempting to avoid liquids with the increased trips to the bathroom that a UTI provides, but it’s an important step in healing.
Echinacea – This is another great, natural antibiotic. We really love to make echinacea into a tea, adding a little honey, and sip on it. It helps provide some of those extra fluids to flush out the bacteria, while boosting the immune system. The addition of (raw) honey will also boost its effectiveness (for more information and other things you do with honey, see my article discussing alternate uses for honey).
Cat’s Claw – This silly sounding herb has a plethra of uses, making it a must have in our medicine cabinet. Cat’s Claw is widely used in folk and natural medicine because it can be viewed as a “catch-all” for restoring health. In this article, Herbs 2000 explains that, while the way it works is still debatable, cat’s claw has been shown to be an anti-spasmatic, antibiotic pain reliever and anti-inflamatory. Cat’s claw really helps reduce those spasms that send me rushing to the bathroom when I have an infection. I have also found this “medicine” to be more powerful than heavy prescription pain relievers such as morphine and fentynal for treating pain.
Barberries – If you read my article on Barberries as Medicine, then you know it’s another favorite cure here. The berberine in these magical berries inhibits the growth of microorganisms, and they may also relieve pain as they are an anti-spasmatic as well. There are several options available, though I prefer the tart, dry fruit and purchase mine from The Raw Food World.
Uva Ursi – This is another herb you can easily find at our house. Natural News explains that uva ursi can be used to treat a UTI. Do give to children, use if you are pregnant or nursing or using Vitamin C, cranberry juice or other supplements that will decrease the alkiline state of your body. Please discuss dosing with a naturopath if you are not familiar with it as high doses can cause unpleasant or negative effects, according to this article on WebMD.
Blueberries – These powerful little berries are more awesome than their taste alone! Blueberries contain a compound that actually keeps the infectious bacteria from from being able to stick to the wall of your bladder. Livestrong.com further explains that blueberries are not able to actually kill off the bacteria, but since they prevent bacteria from “taking hold,” you are able to flush them out during urination. Drinking this as a juice will also help with your fluid intake, though I suggest avoiding anything with added sugar as it has been shown to increase bacteria production. Read more on this in Nutrients’ collaborative research article, Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease.
Cranberries – There is a sugar in cranberries, called D-Mannose, that has been shown to completely cure a UTI when caught early. I suggest contacting a naturopath for exact dosing if you are going to rely on this as a primary treatment. To completely heal a UTI, you may need to consume the D-Mannose in extracted form via powder or pill. Drinking as juice, sans sugar, will assist you in healing as well as provide that some of that additional fluid intake I keep talking about!
Hygeine – Although I have found no proof, I believe good hygeine plays a roll fighting (and preventing future) infections. Be sure to wash your hands and keep your genitals clean to prevent further bacteria from entering your urethra. And don’t forget to wash your hands before and after each trip to the bathroom! Washing in advance will prevent germs on your hands from entering your body via the urethra and also prevents additional illness. The last thing you want is to suffer from another infection when you’re already dealing with a UTI.
Don’t forget, rest is an important part of any recovery, so be sure to take it easy and put physically demanding jobs on hold for a while. And if you find yourself with a higher than usual temperature, just remember that fevers are nature’s way of killing off bacteria, but if the number on the thermometer gets to high, there are several pill-free choices to consider for reducing a fever. For more information, check out this article on natural ways to reduce a fever using things you (maybe) already have in your kitchen.