Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the common problems, seen more often especially in women, and is also prevalent in men nevertheless. The problem occurs when bacteria enter the urinary system, the set of kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra and the system gets infected. The infections are primarily caused by the bacteria that remain in the digestive tract, when they enter the urinary system. Urinary tract infections could be of the urethra, infections of the urinary bladder or infection of the ureters or the kidney. While infections of the urinary bladder are common and can be treated easily if detected straightaway, it is the infection of the kidneys that could cause damages of a permanent nature.
The Urinary Tract
The main components of the urinary tract are
Kidneys – collect waste from the blood and convert them into urine for excretion
Ureters – transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder for temporary storage
Urinary bladders – store urine temporarily till the bladder is full, resulting in the urge to urinate
Urethra – the tube that is the conduit for urine from the bladders to the external urinary organs for excretion
Urinary Tract Infection Causes
There are chances of the bacteria entering the urinary system, resulting in urinary tract infection, as they enter the urethra, the ureters and may finally end up in the kidneys, the pair of purple brown organs found at the lower end of the ribs towards the backside. Urinary tract infections are more common in women than in men, and the reasons could be with women having shorter urethra than men, which could facilitate the bacteria reaching the kidneys. With regard to the causes of urinary tract infection, the chances of your landing up urinary tract infection increase if you are not in the habit of drinking sufficient quantities of water. There could be other reasons for urinary tract infection as in the case of diabetes or pregnancy, or as may be caused by an enlargement of the prostate gland.
Other Causes of Urinary Tract Infection Include
- Delayed urination, where the bladder is full for long, permitting bacteria to rise up the ureters to the kidneys
- Sexual intercourse, where germs in the vagina could enter the urinary tract through the urethra
- Blockage of the urinary tract that prevents the free flow of urine, as in the case of kidney stones
- Menopause and its associated hormonal changes and imbalances
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
You could suspect urinary tract infection if you have had any of the following symptoms, individually or in combination
- Severe pain at one side of the back, approximately in the region where the kidneys are located
- The urge to urinate, not accompanied by proportional volume of urine
- Feeling of pain or burning sensation during urination
- Smelly urine that could also be cloudy or reddish
- Pressure or tenderness in the lower part of the abdomen
- Fever alone or accompanied by nausea or vomiting
Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection
It has not been often that a fruit has been bestowed with health benefits that are strikingly significant in the prevention and treatment of many a health condition, and coming of use as home remedies for urinary tract infection. Cranberries are much in demand commercially, cultivated in many States of the United States and across Canada, and cranberry fruits are well regarded for the high levels of nutrients in them.
Cranberries are high in potassium, along with phosphorous and magnesium, and are also rich in Vitamins A, C and K. One of the most important nutrition facts about cranberries is that they are rich in phenolic flavanoid phytochemicals, pro-anthocyanidins, compounds that are known for their strength of action against diseases such as cancer, diabetes and a range of bacterial infections as well as inflammatory conditions. Cranberries are anti-oxidants as well, properties that they derive from the rich content of oligomeric proanthocyanidins and anthocyanidin flavanoids. But the most important health benefits of cranberries when it comes to home remedies for urinary tract infections should be their action against E. coli and other bacteria, hindering their ability to cling on to the urinary tract, including the urethra and the urinary bladder.
The presence of compounds such as fructose and proanthocyanidins in cranberries is known to inhibit the process of hemagglutination of the bacteria, which prevents them from binding on to the cell surfaces. In effect, cranberries help in washing away the bacteria that might otherwise cause urinary tract infections by staying on in the urinary system. The best way to use cranberries as home remedies for urinary tract infections is to consume them raw, enjoying their taste and letting their goodness get into your system. Cranberries have been found to be particularly effective in the case of middle-aged women, especially among those who might have been susceptible to repeated cases of urinary tract infections, where their vulnerability to the infection was markedly reduced on account of regular inclusion of cranberries in their diet.
Uva Ursi (bearberry)
Another berry pitches in with its medicinal properties and works its way as one of the widely used home remedies for urinary tract infections. Uva Ursi fruits are called bearberries on account of their being the favoured foods of bears. These fruits have been traditionally used, even since the ages of Native Americans, as a home remedy for urinary tract infections, and have been a popular choice till date. The shrub is predominantly found in parts of Europe and North America.
Arctostaphylos uva ursi, as the shrub is scientifically called, is known to be diuretic in nature, a property that is known to increase the amount of urination, and is also known for its antiseptic properties. The ability of uva ursi in treatment of urinary infection is derived from arbutin, the compound that forms a significant proportion of the plant. Arbutin gets converted in the body into hydroquinone, which serves the purpose of home remedies for urinary tract infection through its antiseptic properties.
The leaves of the shrub have been used as one of the effective herbal remedies for urinary tract infection, even as the herbal remedy is found to be effective in relieving of excessive uric acid and hence, as one of the treatments for urinary bladder stones. Further, the herb’s effects also do not stay on in the system, since the diuretic effects of bearberries tend to wash away bacteria as well as remnants of arbutin in the system along with the passage of urine. The anti-inflammatory properties of Uva Ursi also come in handy in alleviating inflammations in the lower part of the urinary tract, relieving of pain and irritation associated with the condition.
The effectiveness of the herbal remedy is at its best when the urine is not acidic but is alkaline, since acidic urine is thought to neutralise the antibacterial properties of the shrub. The leaves of the shrub could be consumed as tea, where around 3 grams of the dried leaves are soaked in around 100 ml of water and left overnight to be consumed hot or cold, after straining the leaves.
a. Precautions with Uva Ursi for Urinary Tract Infection: While the effectiveness of the shrub as home remedies for urinary tract infection has been known through traditional practices, clinical trials are still pending to validate the findings. Further, it would help to be cautious against taking up large quantities of the herbal medicine as the hydroquinone produced from arbutin in the herbal remedy is thought to cause damages to the liver when taken excessively. The leaves should not be taken for more than five consecutive days, nor should the herb be taken for more than five courses of the medicinal herb in any given year.
The home remedy for urinary tract infection should not be administered to children or to pregnant and lactating women. Similar caution should be exercised when it comes to using the herbal remedy for urinary tract infection for treatment in the case of people with pressure problems as well as those who have had a history of kidney problems. Nausea, vomiting and an irritable state are some of the common side effects of uva ursi.
Goldenseal, known by its scientific name Hydrastis Canadensis, is one of the popular home remedies for urinary tract infection, even as it has been widely used traditionally for a wide range of ailments and health conditions. This is an herb with a hairy stem that is commercially cultivated across the United States, typically used in treating infectious conditions.
The herb has been found to be effective against bacterial as well as fungal infections, with the medicinal properties derived out of the compound present in the plants called berberine. The compound is also known to be effective in the treatment of diarrhoea.
The mechanism that comes effective in the use of goldenseal as home remedies for urinary tract infection seems to be very similar to the actions of cranberries, where the compound berberine effectively prevents bacteria from clinging on to the walls of the urinary tract. Goldenseal extracts are prepared by drying the roots or the subterranean parts of the stem to form a powder, used widely in the preparation of herbal tea.
a. Caution with Goldenseal for Urinary Tract Infection: While the herbal product is considered to be safe in most instances when it comes to adult dosages, the extract should not be administered to infants or to pregnant women. Goldenseal is also to be used with caution on account of the possibilities of drug interactions if you have been on medication. It is important to consult a healthcare practitioner before use of goldenseal if you have been taking other medications.
Marshmallows are plants that grow along the banks of rivers and in sandy soil conditions, whose leaves and flowers are considered edible, commonly used in salads, or as fried food accompaniments. The roots of the plant have been used for their medicinal properties, right from their ability to heal sore throat to their coming of use in the treatment of wounds, as a diuretic, as well as in the treatment of gastrointestinal ailments.
The diuretic properties of marshmallow roots help in excretion of urine, while the soothing nature of the root extracts lend a helping hand in marshmallow roots coming in handy as home remedies for urinary tract infection. The presence of mucilage in the roots provides support to anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties of marshmallow roots.
Buchu, also known as Agathosma betulina, and known by its previous name Barosma betulina, refers to the flowering plants that have originated in South Africa. Commonly referred to as the round leaf Buchu is to be distinguished from Barosma crenulata, also known as the oval leaf Buchu, though both the plants have been used for similar medicinal purposes.
Buchu is high on volatile oils such as limonene, menthone and pulegone, along with a range of flavanoids as well as B-complex vitamins. The plant also contains mucilage and tannins, with all of these elements combining to provide the medicinal properties that the plant is used for. Buchu is commonly used as home remedies for urinary tract infections, including infections of the kidney and the urinary bladder.
The herb is known for its cleansing, antiseptic and diuretic properties on account of the active component in the plant, known as diosphenol. Buchu could be used as a home remedy for urinary tract infection by boiling around 10 grams of the dried leaves of the herb in around 200 ml of water and could be consumed three or four times a day.
a. Caution with Buchu for urinary tract infection: While the plant extracts and the oil are considered safe, it is advisable to replenish your system with potassium when you take up Buchu as home remedy for urinary tract infection, since the diuretic effect of the herb could lead to depletion of potassium levels in the body. Pregnant women may refrain from resorting to Buchu, while Buchu oil is not to be used in aromatherapy, despite its strong aroma.
Goldthread is the herb that is widely used in Europe, America and in Asia, proving to be one of the useful home remedies for urinary tract infection on account of its constituent, berberine. In fact, the quantity of berberine in goldthread is thought to be much more than some of the other herbs that have the compound, lending its medicinal properties to the herbs. With a bitter taste, goldthread is used as a blood purifier, along with its other uses in treating certain liver conditions and also as a cure for alcoholism.
As in the case of goldenseal, goldthread’s pharmacological mechanism is very similar in that berberine prevents the harmful bacteria from clinging on to the walls of the urinary tract and flushes them off the system. It is the stem that lies below the ground, the rhizome, which lends its medicinal properties in terms of home remedies for urinary tract infection.
The appropriate dosage of goldthread depends on individual cases and needs and would have to be determined upon receiving appropriate consultation from a trained medical practitioner, especially given the possible side effects and drug interactions that goldthread has been associated with.
a. Precautions with Goldthread: It is unsafe to administer goldthread to infants, as it could lead to possible brain damage and cause adverse effects on the central nervous system during development. It is for similar reasons that goldthread is not to be administered to pregnant women. Further, there have also been reported drug interactions as in the case of medications that are processed by the liver, which need to be taken into account when deciding upon taking up goldthread as a possible home remedy for urinary tract infection.
Unlike what the name suggests, this is not a fruit like the grape but is another berry entering the arena of home remedies for urinary tract infection. These berries that are high in vitamin C could be crushed to get the juice out of them, which is used as herbal remedies to treat many ailments, including conditions such as fever and scurvy.
The effectiveness of Oregon grapes as home remedies for urinary tract infection arises out of the presence of the same component that is found in goldenseal and the goldthread – berberine. The unique characteristics of the compound ensures that the infectious bacteria that find their way into the urinary tract do not find a way of sticking around in there, thanks to the properties of berberine in not letting them get glued to the urinary tract walls, thus proving to be an effective treatment for urinary tract infection.
The berries are also known for their effectiveness on the functioning of the liver and for their role as blood purifier. It is the dried root of Oregon grapes that is powdered and steeped in a cup of water, boiled and consumed at the rate of three tablespoons a day.
a. Precaution with Oregon Grapes: Due to its effect on the liver, people who have had prior liver condition or are taking medication for liver problems should refrain from resorting to Oregon grapes. It is not recommended in pregnancy, and adults should not consume this home remedy for urinary tract infection for duration of more than seven consecutive days.
Corn Silk (Zea mays)
Corn silk is nothing but the thin, fine silky fibre that you could find along the ear of the corn. This commonly occurring fibrous matter, which is normally discarded as we focus entirely on the corn for its edible value, proves itself to be one of the useful home remedies for urinary tract infection. Corn silk, also referred to as Zea mays, is found to stimulate bile secretion by acting on the liver and is also thought to have positive effects on the circulatory system, apart from its usefulness as treatment of urinary tract infection.
Corn silk is found to have diuretic properties on the urinary system, promoting excretion of urine, apart from exerting control over the bacteria that tend to grow in the urinary system. Further, corn silk is also known to relieve of the feelings of irritation and pain associated with urinary tract infection, as it is found to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties as well, apart from having abilities to get rid of toxins and other irritants in the urinary tract.
Corn silk could be dried in sunlight and turned flaky, which could then be added to boiling water to be made into herbal tea. The tea could be consumed twice a day for a few days together to have positive results in conditions associated with urinary tract infection.
a. Caution with Corn Silk for urinary tract infection : Corn silk is known to react with certain drugs for high blood pressure and may result in uneasiness or palpitation. If you are taking drugs for blood pressure, you may be advised to consult your physician before taking up the home remedy for urinary tract infection.
Echinacea purpurea are herbs that have been used for centuries in the treatment of many ailments, right from common cold to other conditions as in the case of home remedies for urinary tract infection, and is also used as an effective medium in the prevention of infections in the first place. The roots are rich in volatile oils, empowering the herb with medicinal properties, while the stem that lies above the ground has high levels of polysaccharides, helping in stimulation of the immune system.
Echinacea could be consumed in commercially available forms as tablets, capsules as well as tinctures, or you may want to make your own herbal tea out of around 2 grams of the dried roots of Echinacea. The herbal tea could be consumed thrice a day for a week for positive results to be observed in conditions associated with urinary tract infection.
It is proposed that the herbal remedy for urinary tract infection works by stimulating the immune system, helping in the production of white blood cells, thus providing for the ability of the body to ward off urinary tract infection or recover from the infectious condition.
a. Caution with Echinacea: Echinacea is generally considered one of the safe home remedies for urinary tract infection, though some of the common side effects of the herbal product cold involve headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and insomnia in susceptible patients. There is also evidence of Echinacea interacting with drugs taken for other medical conditions as in the case of heart diseases and certain psychological conditions or medications taken as immunosuppressant compounds or as antibiotics, and it would help to seek medical advice before resorting to Echinacea as home remedies for urinary tract infection in such cases.
Horsetail, with the scientific name of Equisetum arvense, has been used as one of the effective home remedies for urinary tract infection, ever since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The herb has been attributed with healing powers that have helped in the healing of wounds and ulcers, in stopping profuse bleeding from wounds as well as in the treatment of chronic conditions such as tuberculosis and in dealing with a variety of medical conditions associated with the kidney.
The parts of the herb above the ground are used, either fresh or in dried forms, as herbal remedies for the different conditions. Horsetail is rich in silicon, apart from good reserves of potassium, aluminium and manganese. The diuretic effect of horsetail is found to be on account of flavanoids and saponins that are present in the herb in good quantities. Horsetail is suggested as one of the possible herbal remedies for urinary tract infection on account of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and diuretic properties.
Horsetail is seen to increase urine output, and is found to be effective in the treatment of ulceration of the urinary tract. The typical dosage of horsetail for urinary tract infection suggested is in combination with the extracts of a few other herbs, which would be a concoction of horsetail, goldenrod, corn silk, uva ursi and juniper berry, with each of them constituting around one fifth of the whole. It is recommended that around 30 drops of the concoction be mixed in water and a glass of the mixture be consumed three times a day. While horsetail has been traditionally recommended as a home remedy for urinary tract infection, there is insufficient scientific evidence based on human trials to back the proposition.
a. Caution with Horsetail for urinary tract infection: While consuming moderate amounts of the herbal remedy is considered to be safe, especially under the guidance of a trained medical practitioner, prolonged use of horsetail is not advised. Further, the existence of two forms of horsetail – Equisetum arvense and Equisetum palustre – necessitate purchase of the herb from established organisations in the business, especially since the latter form is thought to be venomous on horses. Horsetail is also found to result in drop in the levels of Vitamin B1 in the body, which needs to be taken into account when deciding on the dosage. Further, the diuretic action of the herb could also lead to shortage of potassium in the body, which would alter the sodium-potassium balance necessary for the proper functioning of systems. There are also possibilities of increase in the levels of lithium in the body when horsetail is administered, along with possible dehydration, which requires constant monitoring of parameters.
Other Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection
Garlic, the little white bulb known for its strong aroma and for its extensive use in cuisine, turns out to be a rather unlikely home remedy for urinary tract infection. Garlic is known for its medicinal uses on account of its antifungal, antibiotic, anti-vital and antibacterial properties, which come in handy in the treatment of urinary tract infection.
You could make fresh garlic tea by mashing a couple of garlic cloves in hot water and boiling it, which you could consume after letting it steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could also add fresh, raw garlic on to salads, munching on the little cloves and letting the essence of garlic get into your system as one of the natural remedies for urinary tract infection.
Clove, the spice known for its strong flavour and its ability to add aroma to cuisine, has loads of medicinal value. The health benefits of clove, derived from one of the compounds found in clove extract, Eugenol, makes it one of the potent antibacterial and antifungal agents, accounting for its use as one of the home remedies for urinary tract infection.
Clove is also known to be an effective antioxidant, which helps protect body cells and tissues from the harmful effects of free radicals, even as it comes in handy as an analgesic, as it helps tide over nagging pain. The best way to include clove would be to add it to your regular diet, even as you could munch over a couple of corns of clove to get its medicinal properties start working for you.
a. Caution with clove for urinary tract infection: While the best part of clove is that it could be used without having to worry about any of the side effects or contraindications of clove, it is generally advised that pregnant women not consume clove at least during the first trimester of conception as a safety measure, though not any adverse effects have been discovered on the foetus on account of clove. However, it is strongly advised not to use clove in the form of cigarettes, as smoking with clove as an ingredient could cause problems in pregnancy and in child development.
Holy Basil Leaves
The holy basil has long been revered for its medicinal properties, including its antioxidant, anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits. The antioxidant properties are derived from flavanoids and anthocyanins in basil leaves, even as the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties help in curing and easing the symptoms of urinary tract infection.
Its use as home remedies for urinary tract infection is on account of its positive effects on the kidneys, helping them function at their optimal levels and flushing out waste matter, which could also result in relief from urinary tract infections. While holy basil leaves could be added on to your diet to add flavour and essence to food, you could also add a few holy basil leaves to water, boil it and sip it frequently as one of the home remedies for urinary tract infection.
Aloe Vera, with its host of health benefits, healing powers and loads of vitamins and nutrients, pitches in as one of the useful home remedies for urinary tract infection as well. It is suggested that regular consumption of Aloe Vera juice diluted in water would help prevent urinary tract infection in the first place, even as the mucopolysachharides present in the herbal extract is found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-carcinogenic properties.
It is suggested that Aloe Vera juice would also be mixed with an extract of holy basil for effective relief from urinary tract infections, on account of the combined anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of the two herbal remedies.
Turmeric is a potent antibacterial and antimicrobial agent, proving to be effective against a whole lot of strains of bacteria. The compound called curcumin present in turmeric is the one that lends its bright yellow colour, apart from imparting a host of antibacterial properties and health benefits to the root, one of which is its use as one of the home remedies for urinary tract infection.
You could add turmeric to your diet on a regular basis to add flavour and colour to cuisine, even as you could mix up a pinch of turmeric powder derived from the dried roots to warm water and consume it thrice a day regularly for prevention as well as cure of urinary tract infection.
Other Tips for Urinary Tract Infection
It would help to pass urine regularly and in good quantity, and drinking a lot of water, preferably around three litres of water a day, helps in flushing out toxins along with liquid from the system. Further, drinking water also helps in rehydration of the body, protecting the system from the dehydrating effects of the diuretic properties associated with some of the home remedies for urinary tract infection.
While this may not be the perfect remedy for urinary tract infection, you would add half a teaspoon of baking soda in water and consume it as a home remedy for urinary tract infection, especially in the initial phases.
Vitamin C for urinary tract infection
Go for foods that are high in vitamin C, as in the case of citrus fruits as well as Indian gooseberry or amla, which helps in boosting the immune system and helps the natural defences of the body in fighting the harmful bacteria that may have caused urinary tract infection. Further, vitamin C also happens to be an effective antioxidant, protecting body cells and tissues from the harmful effects of free radicals, especially at a time when the body is already under attack from bacteria.
Avoid Tea and Caffeine
Both are considered diuretic, which only serve the purpose of promoting the dehydrating effects of home remedies for urinary tract infection. Stay away from these beverages when you experience infection of the urinary tract.
Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
They would not add value to your home remedies for urinary tract infection and it worst, could worsen the symptoms. Stay away from smoke and booze.
Other Treatments for Urinary Tract Infection
While treatments for urinary tract infection would typically involve antibiotics, the precise course of treatment and the kind of medication required for treatment should start off with proper diagnosis of the kind of bacteria and pathogens in action, causing urinary tract infection. Further, treatment for urinary tract infection also depends on the kind of responsiveness displayed by the patient, their unique conditions and circumstances, and other pre-existing conditions that would have to be taken into account before pursuing a course of treatment.
In severe cases where the infection of the urinary tract has spread to the kidney, the patient could be very ill and would have to be admitted to the hospital, perhaps needing intravenous intervention of antibiotics. In extreme cases, urinary tract infection could also be spreading on to the bloodstream, which would require immediate and positive action to curtail the effects of infection. Care should be taken when it comes to urinary tract infection in infants, children and in pregnant women, since the normal course of antibiotics may not be administered to the special cases.
Treatment, in general could include antibiotics such as ciproflaxin, penicillin or cephalosporin, while there may be other antibiotics involved in the treatment of urinary tract infections caused by fungal or parasitic attacks. It is important to continue with the prescribed dosage of antibiotics to their full course, even if the symptoms associated with urinary tract infection seem to be disappearing and the situation seems to be normalising. There are other drugs that are aimed at relieving the symptoms of urinary tract infection, which wouldn’t do much good in terms of treatment.