Updated: Aug 23
Most of you reading this know all too well the irritation and pain that accompanies a urinary tract infection. I know I do! Unfortunately, UTIs are incredibly common, affecting over 50 percent of all women during their lifetime, half of whom will experience recurring UTIs.
So 90% of UTIs are caused by bacteria the bacteria E. coli, and can infect any part of your urinary tract which includes your kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. Bacteria that enters the urethra are usually flushed out through urination, but in some cases, they can rapidly multiply and result in an infection. Women are more prone to UTIs because our urethra is shorter and closer to the anus than men, which makes it easier for the bacteria to enter the urethra.
At the onset of a UTI, usually when the infection is still in the urethra or bladder, you’ll likely experience a burning feeling when urinating, a frequent and oftentimes intense urge to urinate – though little comes out when you do – and/or cloudy, dark, or foul-smelling urine. The infection, if left untreated, can travel to and infect the kidneys, which is usually accompanied by fever and chills and can cause permanent kidney damage. It’s imperative that you begin treating UTIs as soon as symptoms appear, and continue treatment well after the symptoms have completely resolved. If in doubt, please contact a qualified medical professional.
While in some instances, antibiotics are needed to treat UTIs, particularly in children or pregnant women, or in the case of recurring UTIs, they can often be addressed with alternative treatments that don’t carry the potential side effects of antibiotics.
In addition to increasing your intake of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, the following three remedies are those that, in my personal and professional experience, have consistently proven most effective for both myself and my clients. Although each are effective when used individually, I’d strongly urge using a combination of two or three. Each of these are safe and can be used regularly to prevent recurring UTIs:
1. Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, and one type of probiotic in particular, called lactobacilli, has been shown to be particularly effective at treating UTIs caused by E. Coli. They do this by preventing the harmful bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract system, lowering the pH of the urine – thus making it less favorable conditions for harmful bacteria – and producing hydrogen peroxide in the urine which is a strong antibacterial.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods including dairy and sauerkraut, and the benefits of regularly consuming these foods cannot possibly be overstated, as the benefits of probiotics are so vast. Yet, when aggressively treating a UTI, I strongly advise purchasing a probiotic supplement, in either pill, powder, or liquid form, which should be taken every 1-2 hours until symptoms completely resolve, and continued at a lower frequency, 3 times a day, for 2 weeks thereafter. Be careful to purchase a high-quality probiotic, which are usually sold in the refrigerated section of health food stores.
2. D-Mannose: By far the most effective supplement for both treatment and prevention of UTIs. D-mannose is a naturally occurring sugar, similar to glucose, and is the compound in cranberries that make it a commonly recommended treatment for UTIs. Yes supplementing with the extracted sugar itself is far more potent and effective. D-mannose attaches to E. coli bacteria, disabling them from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract and causing them to then be flushed out during urination.
Fortunately, D-mannose does not cause any adverse side effects, even in large quantities, and is safe for even children and the elderly. It’s also not metabolized the same way other sugars are, making it safe for diabetics. It can also be taken regularly, as a preventative measure, as well as during times you’re more prone to infection (like during a honeymoon or after a scented bubble bath!)
D-mannose is available in both capsule and powder form. For adults, take 500 mg with a glass of water every two to three hours for at least five days. Continue D-mannose supplementation for several days thereafter, to ensure complete elimination of the infection. When supplementing D-mannose for preventative purposes, take 500 mg twice a day.
3. Lemongrass essential oil: In no way am I an essential oil fanatic – I mean, they’re great, I just personally don’t use them much – but this has proven to be the most effective treatment in my limited experience. Several studies have proven that many quality essential oils possess antibacterial qualities, and lemongrass has been shown to effectively kill several types of pathogenic bacteria.
To use, dilute 1 to 5 drops in 1 ounce of oil – olive, sunflower, or almond oil works well – and apply to the area below your abdomen, where your bladder is. Please, for the love of all things good, do not apply in or near your lady parts, mamas. Apply 3 times daily, and continue for several days after symptoms have completely resolved.
Have you ever used these natural remedies to successfully treat a UTI? Do you have any other remedies you have had success with when treating a UTI?