Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are common and annoying.
They are generally caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the urethra/urinary tract – commonly the culprit is E.coli. Usually there should be a relative abundance of good bacteria – Lactobacillus – which keeps the E.coli at bay, however when this bacterial balance becomes imbalanced, E.coli can overgrow and a UTI can rear it’s head.
Causes of E.coli overgrowth include stress, the contraceptive pill, high sugar/refined carbohydrate intake, pregnancy, sex, improper wiping after bowel movements (wiping back to front can carry E.coli from the anus to the urethra).
Other bacteria which can cause UTI’s include:
- Klebsiella pneumoniae
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Enterococcus faecalis
- Streptococcus agalactiae
Conventionally, UTI’s are treated with antibiotics. The issue with this is that the antibiotics are non-selective in the bacteria which they act on, so they will kill off both the good and bad bacteria, which is why antibiotics can cause thrush. We want to keep the lactobacillus in as much abundance as possible, as this is what keeps the bad bugs at bay. Hence, antibiotics can be counterproductive.
Some naturopathic treatments for UTI’s include:
- Cranberry – contains proanthocyanidins (PAC’s) which have been shown to inhibit E.coli from adhering to the urinary tract wall and bladder. You can have cranberry juice (organic and 100% pure – no added sugars) or cranberry capsules. The dose is important; studies suggest at least 37mg daily of PACs are required to exert the antibiotic effect.
- D-mannose – is a monosaccharide (a type of sugar) which can be used in both the prevention and treatment of UTI’s. It’s usually taken as a powder or a capsule.
- Hormone balancing – sometimes hormone fluctuations can trigger a UTI, e.g. in the lead up to a menstrual period or during menopause. For example, we know that oestrogen levels impact the lining of the urethra. Working with a practitioner to identify exactly what is going on with your hormones and putting natural treatments in place to manage this, can be hugely beneficial when trying to mitigate UTI’s.
- Hydration – ensuring 3 litres of filtered water daily to flush any infection through the urinary tract
- Sexual hygiene – always urinate after intercourse to release any unwanted bacteria
- Wipe front to back after bowel movements – to prevent bacteria from the anus translocating to the urethra
If UTI’s are recurrent, then hormone testing and urinary microbiome testing may be required to see exactly what is happening within the microbial environment of the urinary tract – the levels of good and bad bacteria. Often there is very little good bacteria present, allowing the bad bacteria to take over and cause symptoms.
This urinary microbiome test is hugely beneficial for people who experience:
- Chronic urinary tract disorders
- UTI/Urinary tract infections
- Urinary tract disorders
- Bladder infection
- Kidney infection
- Interstitial cystitis
- Urinary urgency
- Urinary incontinence
Once we can see the complete microbial composition of the urinary tract, a bespoke treatment plan can be put into place to overcome the UTI’s for good.
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