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Guide to Urinary Tract Infections & Probiotics

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
Urinary tract infections are painful and disrupt a woman's life, but natural remedies can help with both occasional and recurrent UTIs.

Urinary tract infections are painful, bacterial infections that disrupt life. Many women who suffer from UTIs end up visiting doctors and taking medications. Now, new research is finding that antibiotics, the most common treatment, may not be enough. [1]

UTI Symptoms in Women

Common UTI symptoms include...

  • A burning sensation during urination
  • An intense urge to go, even when nothing comes out
  • Back pain or pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Cloudy, off-smelling urine
  • Feeling sick with no other symptoms
  • Fever and chills (usually an indication the infection has spread)

What is a Recurrent UTI?

It's important to remember that not all bacteria are bad. In fact, the human body (especially the digestive tract) relies on bacteria to perform many critical functions. The concern is when bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria. UTIs can occur as a result of an imbalance between good and bad bacteria. [2] UTIs cause discomfort and irritation and, if unaddressed, can spread to the kidneys. A UTI is recurrent when there are at least two infections in a six-month period or three in a year.

Home Remedies for UTIs

Antibiotics are the standard treatment for UTIs but aren't the miracle cure they're made out to be. One of the concerns with antibiotics is that they kill both good and bad bacteria. For people who would prefer to avoid those issues, there are a number of natural remedies that can help support a healthy urinary tract. [3]

Cranberry Juice

Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins, a compound that discourages bad bacteria from taking hold in the bladder. Cranberries may also help discourage the formation of kidney stones. [4]

Juniper Berry Oil

Juniper berry oil promotes probiotic balance in the digestive tract. [5] It also encourages a normal urine flow to help flush the kidneys.

Uva Ursi

Before antibiotics, uva ursi was a favorite natural remedy for UTIs. It's best taken at the first sign of a UTI – 2 to 4 grams per day for no more than five days. [6]

Diet, Diet, Diet

Processed food and refined sugar encourage the growth of bad bacteria. Natural, organic food is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support the good bacteria that keep troublemakers in check. [7]

Balanced Hormones?

Although hormonal imbalances are not usually identified as a prime factor for concerns with bladder health, there is some evidence to suggest that when a woman's hormones are balanced, it can help support urinary tract health. [8] It's not definitely the answer but it's interesting information to consider, especially if it seems nothing else has helped.

Probiotics: A New Paradigm in UTI Health?

Probiotic balance is essential for good health. Supporting the healthy bacteria in your gut creates a strong defense that can help keep the bad guys from causing concerns. [9] Studies have found that Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus paracasei (two strains of good bacteria) are helpful for supporting urinary tract health (just one of the many health benefits of probiotics). [10] [11]

References (11)
  1. Storm DW, Patel AS, Koff SA, Justice SS. Novel management of urinary tract infections. Curr Opin Urol. 2011 Jul;21(4):328-33. doi: 10.1097/MOU.0b013e328346d4ee.
  2. Mannhardt W. What is the cause of recurrent urinary tract infection? Monatsschr Kinderheilkd. 1992 Dec;140(12):842-6.
  3. Reid G. Potential preventive strategies and therapies in urinary tract infection. World J Urol. 1999 Dec;17(6):359-63.
  4. McHarg T, Rodgers A, Charlton K. Influence of cranberry juice on the urinary risk factors for calcium oxalate kidney stone formation. BJU Int. 2003 Nov;92(7):765-8.
  5. Filipowicz N1, Kaminski M, Kurlenda J, Asztemborska M, Ochocka JR. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of juniper berry oil and its selected components. Phytother Res. 2003 Mar;17(3):227-31.
  6. University of Maryland Medical Center. Uva ursi
  7. Kontiokari T, Laitinen J, Järvi L, Pokka T, Sundqvist K, Uhari M. Dietary factors protecting women from urinary tract infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;77(3):600-4.
  8. "A Controlled Trial of Intravaginal Estriol in Postmenopausal Women with Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections" by Raul Raz and Walter E. Stamm; New England Journal of Medicine; 1993; 329:753-756.
  9. Reid G, Dols J, Miller W. Targeting the vaginal microbiota with probiotics as a means to counteract infections. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Nov;12(6):583-7. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328331b611.
  10. Vicariotto F. Effectiveness of an association of a cranberry dry extract, D-mannose, and the two microorganisms Lactobacillus plantarum LP01 and Lactobacillus paracasei LPC09 in women affected by cystitis: a pilot study. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 Nov-Dec;48 Suppl 1:S96-101. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000224.
  11. de Arellano AR, Sánchez M, Vera R, Jara S, González M, Castro E. Effect of orally-administered Lactobacillus plantarum LPLM-O1 strain in an immunosuppressed mouse model of urinary tract infection.Benef Microbes. 2012 Mar 1;3(1):51-9. doi: 10.3920/BM2011.0009.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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