Recurrent UTIs ( or bladder infections) are common in otherwise healthy women.  Repeated courses of antibiotics are sometimes necessary and can be hard on the stomach and cause many undesirable side effects.  When a UTI is already underway, and especially if there is any stomach pain, fever or general malaise, antibiotics are still the safest choice.

Repeated UTIs / Bladder Infections

For women who get three or more UTIs a year, you should always consult with your family doc to rule out underlying problems.  However, at the same time, there is now evidence for some natural therapies that can be taken to prevent recurrent UTIs. Cranberry juice or extract, probiotics, and d-mannose are three of these.

D-mannose, cranberry extract and probiotics all work by inhibiting adhesion, or attachment of the bacteria bugs to the wall of the bladder, although they each do this in slightly different ways.  Probiotics and D-mannose may other have other properties that inhibit the growth of the bugs in the bladder as well as preventing them from sticking to the walls.

Cranberry Extract For Bladder Infections

 This is the most well-studied natural therapy for UTIs in the west.  At a smaller dose, it can be taken daily to prevent recurrent UTIs.   You can drink the juice, (look for the unsweetened form and dilute with water) or take the extract in capsule form.

Probiotics

The most commonly used probiotic is the bacteria called lactobacillus.  The most studied way of taking probiotics to prevent UTIs is per vagina in a capsule, that is inserted once daily or once a week, depending on the preparation.  Often, a few different species or types of lactobacillus are combined into one capsule for better efficacy.

D-Mannose

A simple sugar that has been studied more recently for prevention of UTIs and although there are only small preliminary studies in the literature, the in vitro evidence is very strong for their effect against e. coli strains of bacteria.  D-Mannose is sold in liquid or powder form, which you can add to water or juice

Other Natural Ways to decrease risk of UTIs through Diet

Eat Berries!  Women who eat lots of fruit in their diet, especially berries, have lower rates of UTIs.  This is due to the anti-adhesive properties of certain fruits, especially blueberries and cranberries.

Drink fermented milk products such as yoghurt and kefir–women who consume FERMENTED dairy products (i.e. milk and cheese don’t count) also had lower rates of UTIs.

References
  1. Head, KA. Natural approaches to prevention and treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):227-44.
  2. Kontiokari T, Laitinen J, Jarvi L, et al. Dietary factors protecting women from urinary tract infection. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77:600-604.

  3. Hung, C.-S., Bouckaert, J., Hung, D., Pinkner, J., Widberg, C., DeFusco, A., Auguste, C. G., Strouse, R., Langermann, S., Waksman, G. and Hultgren, S. J. (2002), Structural basis of tropism ofEscherichia coli to the bladder during urinary tract infection. Molecular Microbiology, 44: 903–915. 

Cranberry Extract and D-Mannose are both natural ways of preventing recurrent UTIs and are safe and have no side effects in 99% of people.  However, they are NOT a replacement for seeing your family doc–just an ‘add-on.’


Dr Dani Gordon MD
Dr Dani Gordon MD

Dr Dani is a double board certified medical doctor, integrative medicine physician and world leading expert in CBD, cannabis medicine and brain wellness. She is a leading advocate for evidence based natural medicine and mindbody medicine and her mission it to help you thrive in modern life.