We can take something as simple as taking a pee (or poop) for granted. But, if we have a UTI, it feels like broken glass coming out of our poor urethra! If we treat know the signs and symptoms, we can try natural remedies for UTIs before resorting to antibiotics.
What is a urinary tract infection or UTI?
When you think of a urinary tract infection, you probably picture burning when you pee. A UTI, however, can affect the kidneys, ureter, bladder, and/or urethra. A lower urinary tract infection is the most common, and involves the bladder and urethra.
Women are more likely than men to get a UTIs (bummer!) and if you’re pregnant, you have to be extra careful as the infection can travel to your kidneys and cause things like early birth or high blood pressure.
Nearly 95% of cases of UTIs are caused by bacteria such as e. coli. This bacteria generally starts spreading at the opening of the urethra and then travels up the body to the bladder.
How to tell if you have a UTI
There’s always the classic burn when you pee symptom, but there are also other indications that you may be dealing with a UTI.
- Pain or stinging when peeing
- An urge to pee, but little actually comes out
- Cloudy or rank smelling urine
- Bloody or pink tinged urine
- Confusion or delusions
What causes UTI
Having sex can cause germs in the vaginal canal to be pushed in to the urethra. Solution: Always pee before and after sex.
Wiping from back to front after a having a bowel movement can also introduce unwanted bacteria into the vagina. Solution: Always wipe front to back and keep the vaginal and anal area clean with daily washing. Soap can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina, but warm water will work well.
Wearing tight pants (skinny jeans anyone??) or underwear made from polyester or other synthetic fabrics acts as an incubator for pathogenic bacteria. Solution: Let that area breathe, go commando and/or wear cotton underwear.
Trying to hold it in when you feel the need to pee. Solution: Go when you feel the urge; don’t hold it in.
Some forms of birth control, specifically diaphragms and spermicides promote UTIs. Solution: Use natural birth control methods instead. Get the low down on the best birth control options here.
Kidney complications, like kidney stones and diabetes can also cause UTIs. So if you have diabetes (or gestational diabetes), you’re at an even greater risk of getting a UTI. Solution: Follow a low sugar, low oxalate diet. Monitor your kidney health and immediately take steps to remedy any issues.
Loss of estrogen and hormonal changes can cause a UTI. Ask any PMS woman on a midnight ice cream splurge, and she’ll tell you that her hormones can be a little wacky. Solution: Keep hormones balanced with healthy fats like avocado, hemp seed, and olive oil. Learn how to use red raspberry leaf tea for hormone balance.
Using soap down there can disrupt the pH balance, but it can also irritate the area and cause inflammation. Solution: Keep the area clean with warm water, but go easy on the soap, and only use completely natural soap products. Here’s why I don’t use soap… much.
Sugar consumption weakens the immune system giving bacteria a better chance to overgrow and invade the body. It also depletes the body of vital nutrients, further weakening the body’s defenses. Solution: Stay away from sugar with these 6 tips to help you kick the habit.
Using a bathtub, especially a jetted one that can trap and recirculate pathogenic bacteria. Solution: Make sure to keep your tub very clean, or just take showers if you’re prone to UTIs. (source) Whirlpool tubs need cleaned with bromine occasionally, which is more effective than vinegar or bleach.
How to eliminate a UTI
Since UTI’s are caused by bacteria, conventional treatment is to give an antibiotic, which can certainly be appropriate when the infection becomes serious. But, if caught early on, you can try natural remedies for UTIs as an alternative with your doctor’s approval.
About 90% of UTI’s are caused by the bacteria E. coli. For the 10% of infections caused by other forms of bacteria, and also for those who are susceptible to frequent UTIs, you need to have something that will disrupt the pathogenic biofilm. (source) In these situations, you can use supplements like InterFase plus or Biofilm Defense to get rid of those hard to get rid of biofilms. These supplements are not recommended during pregnancy so it’s best to deal with chronic conditions before or after pregnancy.
Natural remedies for UTI
Here are some natural remedies for UTIs. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or remedies, particularly if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, if your symptoms get worse and are not responding to natural remedies, see your doctor immediately!
Eating healthy fats like cod liver oil, raw butter, hemp and chia seeds will help to balance hormones and keep your blood sugar stable. You can look into other supplements like real-food vitamin C and chaste berry which can help to strengthen your luteal phase and progesterone production.
This antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial supplement fights the gram positive bacteria that cause UTI not caused by E. coli. This works by blocking replication, and damaging the cell membrane so that the immune system can come in and destroy the bacteria. (source)
It is medium chain saturated fatty acid derived from coconut oil and while it is non-toxic, you need to talk to your healthcare practitioner if it’s right for you, particularly if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Where to buy? I like this brand of Lauricidin best.
Cranberry juice or extract
Cranberry can help prevent E. coli from attaching to the urinary tract lining and creating a biofilm, so it’s also good for use as a preventative. It does not however prevent E. coli from replicating. (source)
Cranberry also inhibits the growth of gram positive bacteria from Staphylococcus aureus, though it doesn’t get rid of existing biofilm. (source) Cranberry juice can also be used, but it should be unsweetened. However, it can be a little too tart for most taste buds.
Where to buy? Most local grocery stores will have organic, unsweetened cranberry juice. You can also use this concentrate form. Shoot for 16-32 ounces of juice per day.
High dose vitamin C
Vitamin C stimulates the immune system by increasing interferon, a protein that stops pathogenic microbes from replicating. Don’t use cheap ascorbic acid, but opt for all natural rose hip tea or camu camu powder instead.
Where to buy? I like using this natural, food-based vitamin C supplement best. Shoot for at least 1,000 mg per day or 2 heaping teaspoons of camu camu powder.
The probiotic supplement Fem Dophilus contains strains that specifically target UTI. One study found that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 are the most effective probiotic strains for the prevention of UTI. These also happen to be the same strains featured in Fem Dophilus. (source)
Where to buy? You may find at a local health food store or you can buy here. Follow the manufacturer’s direction on dosage.
Vitamin D boosts the immune system and, in studies, induces the antimicrobrial peptides cathelicidin in the bladder that help prevent UTI. This can be used as a preventative measure if you’re prone to UTI, but it can also help your body recover faster.
Where to buy? I like this vitamin D product for best absorption. Shoot for at least 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day until the symptoms go away.
Garlic is one of the most potent antibiotics, natural or prescription. You can take some in a teaspoon of raw honey (preferably this type which boosts immunity) to cover the spiciness. You want to crush your garlic clove and let it sit for 10 minutes as this creates a powerful compound called allicin to form. Take 1 crushed clove 3 times a day up or up to every 2 hours a day. Women have reported completely curing their UTI after just a few days of taking a partial crushed garlic clove three times a day. (source)
Where to buy? You can find organic garlic bulbs at your local grocery store. I would combine with this honey for an added boost!
This supplement is effective at binding to E. coli and expelling it from the body. It’s naturally found in cranberries, blueberries and apples, but you need a concentrated and standardized extract for it to be most effective. (If the infection is not caused by E. coli though, then this supplement won’t be effective.)
Women RAVE about this supplement and some use for a preventative measure since it’s safe to take daily in small doses. The standard treatment is 500 mg every 2-3 hours for 5 days. (source) You can also continue on a lower dose for preventative use. It has a naturally sweet taste and mixes well in yogurt, smoothies or even water.
Where to buy? I like this form the best since there are no additives and you can just use in food. You can also try this supplement form which combines with cranberry extract for a one two punch. Follow manufacturer’s directions for dosage.
Yes, drink plenty of water! This helps to flush the kidneys and cleanse the infection from the body. Adding freshly squeezed lemon will make it even more therapeutic. While it won’t kill a UTI on its own, it’s a vital piece of the puzzle in your body’s healing journey.
Where to buy? Hopefully, you have a good filtering system for your water. Otherwise, purchase 5 gallon jugs of clean, spring water. Shoot for at least 8 glasses per day.
Apple cider vinegar
The all powerful apple cider vinegar is yet another useful tool to naturally treat a UTI. It works by flushing out bacteria, and dislodging it from the urinary tract. It also helps to make the urine more acidic, so it’s unfriendly to bacteria growth.
Where to buy? Most local grocery stores will have apple cider vinegar but be sure you get a RAW FORM. I like this brand best. You should see the “mother” culture on the bottle of bottle that makes the liquid a little murky versus translucent. Shoot for at least 2 TB of raw apple cider vinegar a day.
How about you?
Have you ever had a UTI? What natural remedies for UTI did you try? Share with us in the comments below!