Urinary tract infections (UTIs), often known as bladder infections, are one of the most common bacterial infections, especially in women. They occur when harmful bacteria enter the urinary tract via the urethral opening, and colonize in the bladder. Typical signs and symptoms include burning pain with urination, increased urinary frequency and urgency, pubic pain and possibly blood in the urine. While antibiotics are the conventional treatment of choice, there are several natural treatment options that can be effective as well.
D-Mannose is a sugar molecule that acts by attaching to bacteria in the urinary tract and excreting it in urine. It can be used for both treatment and prevention of UTIs. Food sources of D-Mannose include cranberries, blueberries, and apples, but typically supplementation is required to achieve effective doses for treating infection.
There are a number of herbs with antibacterial properties that can be used to treat UTIs. Certain herbs have a specific affinity to the urinary system, and assist in strengthening and soothing the urinary tract in addition to fighting off infection.
Estrogen plays a role in maintaining tissue health in the urinary tract. Post-menopausal women with low levels of estrogen are more susceptible to UTIs, due to the hormone-related changes that cause the urinary system to be more vulnerable to infection.
Cranberry is often known as the food or beverage of choice to treat UTIs. Its medicinal properties come from its D-Mannose content and acidifying action, which help keep bacterial overgrowth under control. Generally, it’s important to avoid refined sugars and processed foods that weaken the immune system, and eat an abundance of healthy whole foods to support the body in eradicating infection.
While natural treatments can be helpful for treating UTIs, it is important to use these therapies under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner. If the infection spreads from the bladder to the kidneys, immediate conventional treatment with antibiotics is necessary. Symptoms that suggest kidney involvement include back pain, fever, and chills, along with the symptoms characteristic of bladder infection.