If you’ve ever had one, and if you’re a woman it is most likely that you have, you know how painful urinary tract infections can be. Around 50-60% of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. (Source)
With bacteria increasingly becoming antibiotic resistant, the go-to treatment isn’t as effective as you might hope. Several antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin and sulfonamides are no longer used to treat UTIs because of resistance. Other antibiotics aren’t effective on certain strains, but can be used to treat others—although recurrence isn’t uncommon. (Source)
So what’s a girl to do?
There are ways you can help your body heal from a urinary tract infection.
But first, let’s talk a little about what is happening in your body when you get a UTI.
What is a UTI?
A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system, which includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract, which is the bladder and the urethra. (Source)
These infections are caused by pathogens attaching themselves inside the urinary system, most commonly the bacteria E. coli.
Symptoms of UTIs include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Urine that appears cloudy
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored — a sign of blood in the urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain, in women — especially in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
Now let’s get into what you can do about it.
Alleviate Your UTI Naturally
The first thing you need to know is to drink plenty of fluids. This will help with the second item—urinate frequently. Drinking lots of fluid will dilute your urine, and urinating more frequently will help flush bacteria from your urinary tract.
There are a few other extra things you can add to your rotation to hurry that bacteria out of your body.
Cranberries have long been thought to cure urinary tract infections. While more recent studies show they might not be as effective as once thought, they still show some efficacy especially in women who experience recurrent infections. (Source)
In a mouse study, oral treatment with garlic lowered renal bacterial counts resulting in a lower chance of contracting a virus. (Source) This knowledge, plus garlic containing the antimicrobial agent, allicin, points to it potentially being useful in treating and preventing UTIs. (Source)
- Nasturtium and Horseradish
A study showed that an herbal medicine containing horseradish and nasturtium was safe and effective in treating chronically recurring UTIs. You probably already know what horseradish is. Nasturtium is both a beautiful botanical and a medicinal herb with antibacterial and antibiotic properties.
- Salvia Plebeia
Salvia plebeia is a biennial sage herb that is native to a region of Asia, and widely used in herbal medicine. Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital at Nanjing University in China has used salvia for over 20 years to treat UTIs. They performed a study that showed that it is diuretic, anti-parasitic, anti-fever and anti-inflammatory.
Authors of several studies reported that probiotic capsules administered orally may regulate the vaginal flora and may be effective on recurring UTIs. (Source) This makes sense since the specific probiotic strain lactobacillus is a dominant bacteria in the healthy urinary-genital flora of premenopausal women.
Reduce Your Risk of Developing a UTI
Reduce Exposure to Skin Allergens
Since skin allergens introduced to the genital area, such as bubble bath liquids, bath oils, vaginal creams and lotions, deodorant sprays or soaps can alter vaginal flora and ultimately result in UTI, it’s best to avoid them. (Source) Replace your perfumed products with naturally derived ingredients to help keep your bacteria balanced.
Drink Lots of Fluids and Urinate Often
It’s worth stating again! Since drinking fluids and urinating often helps flush bacteria through your urinary system, it keeps the bacteria from sticking around and creating infection.
Keep Things Clean and Dry
Take care of your lady bits by keeping them nice and clean and dry. When moisture is trapped, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria. It is also important to wipe from front to back so no bacteria gets to the urethra.
Here’s to staying healthy and infection free!