Top 7 Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

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Top 7 Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that afflicts any structure of the urinary tract, a system consisting of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra responsible for producing, storing, and eventually eliminating urine – one of the body’s waste products. The patient suffers from pain in the pelvic area in women and in the rectal area in men. Painful urination accompanied with a burning sensation and a persistent urge to urinate are symptoms as well. Urine is passed frequently in small amounts and appears cloudy. Pain can be particularly severe or grave when infection is limited to the bladder. When infection has reached the kidneys, serious consequences can result. [1]

Escherichia coli and its strains are inhabitants of the colon and are in fact a normal part of the gut flora. Most of these bacteria come from fecal matter and can be unintentionally transferred to one’s bladder through certain lapses in hygiene. When they have traveled up to the urethra to the bladder, they can be the most common and primary cause of urinary tract infection. Other bacteria, viruses, or fungi can be rare causal agents too. Because of such, treatment is chiefly geared towards eliminating bacteria or other pathogens responsible for the infection. Antibiotics are hence the typical remedy. Nonetheless, there are a wide range of home remedies one can employ to help kill the bacteria, alleviate pain and bring comfort, and hasten the recovery. If one does not experience any relief or if symptoms become worse one or two days even after home remedies were tried, immediate medical care should be sought.

1. Fluids – Adequate hydration is associated with a reduction in urinary tract infection and may improve the results of antimicrobial therapy in UTI. [2] Drinking plenty of water can flush the UTI problem away. It aids in keeping the urine diluted and in flushing the bacteria out of the urinary tract. Washing out the pathogenic organisms would make it difficult for them to adhere to healthy cells. Fruit juices are noteworthy flavorful alternatives since they contain a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are known to promote recovery of tissues and boost the immune system to get rid of the infection. “Bladder irritants” should be avoided however because they appear to only worsen the frequent urination that commonly comes with UTI. These include coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks.

2. Cranberry juice – A glass of unsweetened cranberry juice daily can bring a stop to your UTI problems. Cranberry juice has long been regarded as an effective preventive and treatment option for UTI. Cranberry products can be in different formulations, and extensive evaluation has been carried out to evidence the role of cranberry products in the management of UTI. As pointed out by two good-quality randomized clinical trials, cranberry products can reduce the incidence of symptomatic UTI at 12 months versus placebo in women. [3]

Now how does drinking cranberry juice help eliminate your UTI problem? It was once thought by scientists that cranberries protect the urinary tract against infection by making and maintaining the urine acidic. After all, cranberries are acidic in nature because of the diverse acidic compounds they contain, such as benzoic acid, citric acid, malic acid, and quinic acid. Such acidity of the urine makes the urinary tract a hostile environment for bad bacteria to dwell in and propagate. Recent studies now reveal that cranberries have antibacterial compounds called proanthocyanidins that prevent bacteria from sticking to the cells lining the urethra and bladder. These substances hence impair the ability of infection-causing bacteria to colonize and spread. [4]

3. Blueberries – Blueberries work in almost the same way as cranberries do with respect to UTI. Blueberries contain compounds that inhibit the adherence of bacteria to the tissues lining the urinary tract. They are also rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system. Take several sips of blueberry juice, or dash shredded blueberries over your morning oatmeal, or eat fresh blueberries.

4. Pineapple – Indulging in some cupfuls of pineapple chunks or drinking pineapple juice may provide health-promoting benefits that fight off the infection. The fruit is a rich source of vitaminC, which increases the acidity of urine to minimize bacterial growth and supports the immune system. In addition, a proteolytic (“protein-digesting”) enzyme called bromelain can be acquired from pineapples. Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve UTI symptoms.

What’s more interesting is that, according to a double-blind trial, bromelain makes antibiotics more effective against UTI among patients. In this trial, administration of antibiotics together with either of the enzymes bromelain or trypsin in combination (400 mg / day for two days) led to a resolution of infection among all those who had received the combination. [5]

5. Heat – Apply a warm compress to the lower abdomen right over the bladder to soothe the pain. The heat will help resolve the inflammation related to the infection. It will also promote blood flow to the area of infection and enhance healing. Note that heat should never be applied to broken and/or sensitive skin.

6. Baking Soda – Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, can serve as an inexpensive remedy for UTI. Many claim the effectiveness of consuming baking soda dissolved in water in improving the symptoms of UTI. The mechanisms however remain unclear. It is believe that baking soda reduces the pain or burning sensation associated with urination by making the urine more alkaline. When the urine becomes alkaline and hence less acidic, it does not irritate the already inflamed tissues as it is flushed through the urinary tract.

Add one teaspoon of baking soda to a cup or glass of water. Consume this solution once or twice daily. When one follows a low-sodium diet, especially for high blood pressure, it is best to consult first a physician prior to baking soda use. [6]

7. Vitamin C – Taking vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, increases the acidity of urine and consequently renders the urinary tract unsuitable for bacterial growth and multiplication. This is an equally effective alternative when cranberry juice or extract isn’t available. Natural sources of vitamin C include fruits such as cantaloupes, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, and watermelon and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and green and red peppers.

References:

[1] Mayo Clinic. “Urinary tract infection (UTI).” Retrieved 7 August 2013 from
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/urinary-tract-infection/DS00286

[2] Popkin B. M., D’Anci K. E., & Rosenberg I. H. (2010).Water, hydration and health. Nutrition
Reviews
, 68(8): 439-458. Retrieved 7 August 2013 from
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

[3] Jepson R. G., Mihaljevic L., & Craig J. (2004). Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2: CD001321. Retrieved 7 August 2013 from
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106157

[4] Guay D. R. (2009). Cranberry and urinary tract infections. Drugs, 69(7): 775-807. doi:
10.2165/00003495-200969070-00002. Retrieved 7 August 2013 from
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19441868

[5] Bromelain. University of Michigan Health System. Retrieved 7 August 2013 from
http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2817009#hn-2817009-uses

[6] Hennessy R. (2011). Sodium bicarbonate for urinary tract infections. Retrieved 7 August 2013 from
http://www.livestrong.com/article/477393-sodium-bicarbonate-for-urinary-tract-infections/

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