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Anybody searching the internet for the best herbs and natural remedies for a urinary tract infection will undoubtedly find all sorts of suggestions. But what does the science say? Here’s a breakdown of the facts behind some of the most commonly touted natural UTI approaches.
Having a urinary tract infection is anything but fun. While women are more susceptible to UTIs than men, they can affect anybody, and tend to linger around for a while. As always, the best option for addressing any health concern is to consult with your doctor, who will typically prescribe antibiotics in the case of a UTI.
With that being said, there’s a lot of information out there about the best herbs that act as a natural remedy for UTIs. Here, we’ll examine what the actual facts are behind each one of these commonly suggested herbal remedies for UTIs, so that you can be better educated about the properties and uses of each one.
Without a doubt, the most widely discussed natural remedy for UTIs is cranberry, either in the form of juice or as a cranberry extract supplement. The reasoning here is that cranberries are rich in compounds like D-Mannose, anthocyanins, antioxidants, and polyphenols that are thought to inhibit bacterias’ ability to adhere to and grow within the bladder.
Research has found that there’s still work to be done before evidence can conclusively endorse cranberry’s effectiveness as a natural UTI remedy, but the American Urological Association’s clinical UTI guidelines do include cranberry as a preventative measure. Ultimately, since cranberry is safe for most people and is rich in so many beneficial compounds, you certainly may want to include it in your personal health regimen!
When it comes to purported herbal remedies for a urinary tract infection, Uva Ursi (sometimes called Bearberry) is one of the most popular. A fun fact is that the small red berries are a favorite snack of bears, which gives Bearberry its name; but, it’s the leaves which are used to make extracts found in herbal supplements.
The main compounds that put Uva Ursi in the herbal remedies for UTI conversation are arbutin, flavonoids, and phenolic acids. In lab studies, these natural chemicals have been found to have antibacterial properties.1 While the health community is still waiting to see large scale studies examining Uva Ursi as a natural herbal remedy for UTIs, it remains a popular choice for urinary support.
We’ve learned that D-Mannose naturally occurs in cranberries, but this natural compound deserves its own mention. It is a type of simple sugar found in a variety of fruits, and comes in an isolated form found in many herbal supplements that help cleanse the bladder.
Similar to cranberries, D-Mannose is believed to hamper the ability of bacteria to stick to the walls of the urinary tract. The research conducted on D-Mannose shows promising results on its ability to help flush impurities from the urinary system, and it is definitely one of the “usual suspects” in any article exploring natural remedies for UTIs.2
While it’s really a vegetable, garlic’s delicious culinary applications have earned it a spot in many discussions about the best herbs for UTIs. It’s reputation as a natural UTI remedy stems from a compound called allicin.
In laboratory settings, allicin has exhibited antimicrobial effects, including against certain bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections, but more research is needed to fully understand its potential role as a possible natural remedy for UTIs.3
Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) has many health benefits, but it is also sometimes noted as a natural remedy for UTIs. In large amounts, it causes urine to be more acidic, which inhibits the growth of some bacteria according to Johns Hopkins.
Vitamin C works more as a preventative measure than as a natural UTI remedy, as the acidity can irritate the bladder in somebody already experiencing a urinary tract infection.
It’s odd to think that introducing new bacteria to your body might be useful as a natural UTI remedy to stave off infection, but that may be the case. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” often used to improve digestive health.
One study found that lactobacillus, a common strain of probiotic bacteria, helped to prevent recurrent UTIs in women.4 In addition to occurring naturally in fermented foods like sauerkraut and some yogurts, probiotics are found in supplement form.
The last commonly discussed natural remedy for UTI on our list is green tea, which has a long history of being used for therapeutic effects. Much like cranberry, green tea contains a high amount of polyphenols.
Unlike cranberry, however, green tea contains something called epigallocatechin, which may have bacteria-killing effects. Scientists are also investigating whether green tea may be used in conjunction with antibiotics to better eliminate E. Coli.5
Remember, it’s always important to talk to your doctor about anything that might be considered a natural remedy for UTIs before making the decision yourself. This article’s examination of foods and supplements that are sometimes called the best herbs and natural remedies for UTI is solely meant as an educational tool to help you better understand what’s out there.
To learn more about urinary tract infections and urinary health in general, make sure to read out Ultimate Guide to Urinary Health for even more useful information! You can also join the conversation on our Facebook and Instagram with your own thoughts about the best herbs and natural remedies for UTIs.
The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any disease.