A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that begins in any part of the urinary system, from the kidneys, to the ureters or bladder and urethra. Women tend to be at greater risk of UTI and are generally prescribed antiboiotic treatment, which in some cases can lead to recurrent infections due to increasingly resistant bacteria. There are, however, natural remedies for UTI that could prevent the need to antibiotic treatment.
Urine is generally a sterile fluid and infection will only occur when there is an introduction of outside bacteria. Escherichia coli (E. coli) causes about 80% of urinary tract infections in adults and can be diagnosed through urinalyisis and culture performed by your physician.
Not everyone experiences symptoms with a UTI, but general symptoms can include:
A strong urge to urinate
A burning sensation with urination
Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
Flank or back pain
Lower abdomen discomfort or pressure
Blood in the urine (hematuria) or cloudy, unusual smelling urine
Bacteria in the urine (bacteriuria)
Primarily, treatment should include disinfection and alkalinizaiton of the urinary tract. Many have heard of the use of cranberry juice for treatment of UTI and in a great number of cases this can be beneficial. Cranberry juice (the un-sweetened kind, not Ocean-Spray) and blueberry juice (un-sweetened) have anti-septic properties that can prevent the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract. More specifically, cranberry juice prevents the attachment of bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract. Freeze-dried cranberry capsules can also be taken as a supplement.
The use of probiotic supplements can also be benefical for keeping the bacteria in the urinary tract in check. If you experience re-current UTI's, include probiotics regularly in your routine. Avoid probiotics from commercial yogurt brands and they contain high amounts of sugar. Sugar, in any form will lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and perpetuate the infection.
Goldenseal and uva ursi are herbals that are commonly used to treat UTIs. Both herbs have great antiseptic qualites that can make management of UTI successful. They can be administered in a tea form, as a liquid tincture or encapsulated supplement.
Along with naturopathic treatments, I generally include some homeopathic support of UTI. Homepathics can be very gentle and still make a tremendous difference in terms of healing. Homeopathics are also a great choice for pregnant women expericience UTI, as they are gentle enough to take. Some helpful remedies include:
Cantharis (sharp burning pain, intense urge to urinate)
Staphysagria (continual burning, result of sexual intercourse)
Apis (urinate frequently, but only small quantities are passed, stinging pain)
Belladonna (urge to urinate is frequent and intense; bladder feels very sensitive)
Finally, do not overlook the importance of water and hydration. Start your day with a tall glass of water upon waking and continue to drink at least 2-3 liters of water throughout the day.
Lakeshore Wellness Center: Naturopathic Holistic Medicine and Acupuncture in Chicago.
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