Monday, 13 October 2014

Natural Remedies for Cystitis / Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

A relative of mine has a chronic urinary infection at the moment and the antibiotics thus far have not worked well at all so I have put this together for her.

Firstly some background.
The pathogens that cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTI / Cystitis) are sensitive to pH, and fortunately this is something that we can change quite easily. So pH really matters.

When we eat acidic foods it doesn't automatically mean that it will make our urine more acidic, for instance citrus fruits will make the urine more alkaline despite being acidic. What happens here is that our body is stimulated to produce more bicarbonates as a response (particularly the pancreas), and also the types of minerals found in fruits are easily converted by our body into bicarbonates. The vast majority of fruit and vegetables will have an alkaline renal load, and this means that it makes our urine more alkaline.

== pH Change ==
We can expect that most UTI microbes will prefer a slightly acid urine, whilst some may prefer it slightly alkaline. None will like a strong alkaline or strongly acidic environment. And in particular the pathogens will not deal well with big swings in pH. That is, if you change the pH from strongly acidic to strongly alkaline within a few hours then they won't be able to tolerate the change. When you acidify the urine it might burn more as it irritates the pre-existing inflammation, so it is a bit tricky to tell if that is helping.

All said though, I suspect the majority cases will benefit quickly from a strongly alkaline urine. The reason is simple, the vast majority of people follow a diet that has an acidic renal load (that acidifies the urine), and thus the pathogens living in their bladder or urinary tract are naturally going to be acid loving. BUT, and this is an important reminder, the pathogens will only tolerate a certain level of acidity. If we make the urine too acidic then even so called "acid loving" pathogens will die.

You can buy pH strips from a pharmacist to test the urine pH. This is a simple tool to help you know whether you are on the right track or not.

== Cream of Tartar (CoT) ==
This is actually a very old and time tested remedy. I would use this first off before all other remedies. How to take it: In juice add a quarter of a teaspoon (preferably no more than a teaspoon in a day). Adding a bit of fresh lemon or lime juice may also improve this remedy.

I had a bit of difficulty working out whether CoT alkalises or acidifies the urine. Ural is a product you can buy at a pharmacy for UTI. The reaction in Ural's ingredients actually produce a very similar compound (ie. a salt of tartaric acid, although Cream of Tartar has more potassium). Ural makes the urine more alkaline and so I believe Cream of Tartar alkalises the pH too.

== Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) ==
At first this (apparently) acidifies the urine, but over a few days the body compensates and the urine becomes more alkaline. Another popular remedy. Should work well, especially over the first two days. Add a tablespoon or two to a glass of juice.

== Baking Soda ==
1 heaped teaspoon in a glass of water. Must be taken on an empty stomach without any other food / juice etc (it reacts with acids). This will make the urine more alkaline. Best to do this when not hungry. I make a big cup of this and put it near my bed, then drink it first thing in the morning, or when I wake.

== Berries ==
Different berries help in different ways.. particularly Blueberries, Cranberries. I suggest eating a variety of berries.. oh and Cherries too (even if they aren't berries). My suggestion - see if you can find some unsweetened cherry juice, or eat fresh berries, or put some frozen berries in the blender along with a pear to make a smoothie, but please don't add dairy or yoghurt to this as it will negate the benefits.

== Cranberry ==
This contains D-Mannose which inhibits the ability for pathogens to bind to the bladder wall. They end up getting flushed out. You can use cranberry juice or dried cranberry for this, and it is also possible to buy the key compound D-Mannose online. Most cranberry products unfortunately contain a lot of added sugar, which is not good for your immune system.. this added sugar will also likely make the urine pH more acidic.

== Alkalising ==
The following make the urine more alkaline:
  • Cream of Tartar - eighth tsp in fruit juice
  • Ural
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Vegetable juice
  • Bicarbonate - see directions (above)
  • Tofu - one of few high protein foods that doesn't produce very acidic urine.

== Acidifying ==
The following make the urine more acidic:
  • Coffee
  • Cheese, Yoghurt
  • Eggs (runny)
  • Chicken
  • All meats
  • ACV - acid, then alkaline after two or more days
  • Uroquid - Sodium acid phosphate (Urinary acidifier)

-- More reading --

A table of renal acidifying / alkalising foods. A few items seem misplaced to me, but overall a good guide.

Good reviews of different natural remedies. Lots of great safe & simple things to try here.

Ted from Bangkok, as usual, wrote a very interesting post here:

EarthClinic typically has good ideas for beating disease. The second link is for pets, but still interesting!

Some forum chatter on using CoT and D-Mannose / Cranberry for UTI


  1. One of the best natural remedies for UTI is Cranberry Juice. I have seen many patients of Urinary Tract Infections getting cured only from the consumption of Cranberry Concentrate Liquid. There are other factors also which helped in UTI, such as drinking lots of water, staying away from spicy food etc.

    1. Thanks Mantis, appreciate your feedback :)