Herbs for Urinary Tract Infections

I suffered a lot with UTIs in my early 20s.  Learning how to use herbs for urinary tract infections instead of antibiotics was a huge part of my journey in exploring natural medicine.

When I first experienced a urinary tract infection, I tried the usual over the counter remedies and cranberry juice but nothing seemed to work.  The pain and discomfort was so difficult to manage I would be desperate to find something to resolve it. So I took antibiotics. However, I became trapped in a  cycle of recurrent infections and antibiotic usage.

Nothing was able to break cycle.

I realised I could not carry on like this as it was affecting my work and health so I started to research alternatives.

And there were lots of alternatives to try! Salt baths, D-mannose, Vitamin C,  Homeopathic remedies such as Cantharis.

I read about different herbs that could helps such as Uva Ursi (Bear berry) and Echinacea.

Back then I had no idea about how to use herbal medicine back then but I found this tincture in a health food shop and for the first time I was able to  get rid of my infection without resorting to antibiotics.

I also changed my diet having become interested in nutrition and eventually after increasing veggies, bone broths and reducing sugars then my UTIs stopped occuring.

Antibiotics are life-saving medicine. However, if you are looking after your health then herbs can be such a great tool to manage UTIs so you can heal at home.

I recommend that everyone starts building a first aid kit of herbs so you have them ready when you need them.

Herbs to Help

Herbal teas are lovely for UTIs are they naturally will be processed through the kidneys and urinary tract. We all know the cardinal rule of UTIs is to drink lots of water! So herbal teas are a lovely way to increase hydration as well as flush out the bacteria.

My favourite tea would be buchu, corn silk, calendula and uva ursi. The corn silk soothes and coats the urinary tract relieving pain whilst  the buchu, uva ursi and calendula have anti-septic and anti-bacterial qualities to address the infection.

This combined with a tincture of echinacea and maybe goldenseal if it is really chronic would work very nicely to clear up a UTI!

herbs for utis

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection is simply when pathogenic microbes have found their way into the urinary tract and started to cause irritation.

The urinary tract comprises of kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra and prostate.

So a UTI in the bladder is called cystitis, in the urethra its urethritis and kidneys is pyelonephritis.

A UTI could start in the bladder but then move up the to infect the kidneys and this is when it can become life-threatening so always talk to your healthcare professional if you suspect you have one!

Symptoms of a UTI

This can vary but generally here is what to look out for:

  • Urethritis– this can be a gradual onset where you start to experience irritation and inflammation resulting in painful urination and changes when you pee. There can also be vaginal discharge or bleeding
  • Cystitis– you might the urgency and need to pee a lot but not always have much to pee and it be very painful when you do. 40% present with blood in the urine too.
  • Pyelonephritis- similar symptoms to cystitis or urethritis but also you might have fever, chills, nausea and severe lower to middle back pain. This needs treating immediately!

Why do we get them?

There are lots of reasons why you might be prone to urinary tract infections. Over 56% of women will experience a UTI within their lifestime so it is really common! One of the reasons of course, might be diet or hygiene (there can be some cross- contamination down there!)

However, E.coli overgrowth is linked to low oestrogen so there is a link between our hormonal health and UTIs.

Also there is a big connection between our emotions and our physical body so stress can be a big trigger factor.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the bladder is connected with the emotion of fear. The burning symptoms combined with peeing are also linked with anger (are you feeling pissed off?!). So take time to reflect and meditate on why you might have a UTI- is your body trying to tell you something?

Example protocol for using herbs for urinary tract infections

  • Simmer gentle these herbs in 750ml of water for 15 minutes then leave to steep and drink throughout the day:
    • 6g Uva Ursi
    • 3g Buchu
    • 3g Corn silk
    • 3g Calendula
    • 2g Dandelion leaf
  • Take 3ml of Echinacea angustifolia root tincture every 3 hours
  • Have some valerian tea at night to aid sleep
  • Stay well hydrated drinking the decoction and lots of water
  • Eat lots of fermented vegetables
  • Avoid all foods containing refined sugars
  • Have a warming bath once or twice a day and add salt and calendula- no scented products