A Complete UTI and Bladder Infection Home Remedy Regimen
Looking for a bladder infection home remedy that actually works?
As a person who has dealt with chronic bladder and UTI infections since childhood, I know it's just not wise to constantly be taking an antibiotic. My primary concern is that antibiotics destroy both bad and good bacteria. Good bacteria primarily reside in our digestive system and can take 6 months or more of probiotic treatment to rebuild (much longer to rebuild on its own), leading to serious gut problems, including leaky gut, food sensitivities, slow digestion, constipation, diarrhea and much more.
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Because of my history (the causes of which are described below) I've become quiet proficient at knowing when I have an infection and what actually works for my body to eliminate UTI's and bladder infection.
IMPORTANT: Every person's body is different, and their own causes of bladder infections will vary, both of these things meaning that your own bladder infection home remedy regimen will likely need to vary, too. I've shared what I've found works best for me, but I'll also share other recommendations to support you in finding your own healing regime.
Bladder Infection VS Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) VS Kidney Infection
There IS a difference between them, although the natural treatment is usually the same. A bladder or kidney infection can be a UTI, but a UTI may not be a bladder infection. Why? Because the urinary tract is the overall term to describe the urinary system, the organs and tubes that produce and excrete urine.
However, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is generally recognized as an infection in the lower urinary tract - the ureters and urethra. A bladder infection is actually when the infection is concentrated in the bladder itself.
A more serious urinary tract infection occurs when the signs and symptoms of UTI in the lower tract and bladder are ignored and travel upward to the kidneys. A kidney infection warrants an antibiotic (although I'd still follow the recommendations below to support the urinary tract in healing - just talk to your doctor about any contraindications between the antibiotics, herbs, and supplements).
(For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to refer to both bladder and urinary tract infections as "bladder infections", and clarify "kidney infections" when necessary.)
Symptoms of a Bladder Infection, UTI, and Kidney Infection
Seeking out a bladder infection home remedy usually starts when you experience one or more of the following symptoms.
IMPORTANT: Every person will experience symptoms differently. Don't let anyone tell you that you don't have an infection because it doesn't burn. It's not uncommon to be asymptomatic (meaning having no symptoms at all) and still have an infection show up in a urinalysis. This is why it's so important to pay close attention and remain in-tune with your body. (Also keep in mind that these symptoms may be a sign of something else, such as an STD. It's always a good idea to have a holistic doctor you can trust to be sure.)
Common, and uncommon, signs and symptoms of a UTI, bladder infection or kidney infection include:
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Itching or burning when not urinating
- The urge to go often (but nothing or very little comes out)
- Cloudy urine
- Dark urine
- Urine with a strange, or strong aroma
- Pain or cramping (pelvic area for women; rectal area for men)
- Appearance of blood in the urine (if you haven't been eating red beets then call your doc!)
- Pain or cramping in the low back or low abdomen
- Pain or cramping in the mid-back, under the ribcage, upper hip, or on either side (call you doc!)
- Fever or chills (call your doc!)
- Bloating or discomfort
Other signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, testicular pain (in men, obviously), and so on. Yes, it can be very difficult to distinguish the symptoms of a bladder infection from other symptoms. It never hurts to have a urinalysis (test for infection) done by your local clinic or favorite holistic doctor before designing your own bladder infection home remedy regimen.
What Causes Bladder Infections and How to Prevent Them
Before we move into this particular bladder infection home remedy regimen, it's important to look at possible causes. Not only will this help in prevention, but it may determine your route of treatment.
What causes bladder infections most often is E.coli bacteria. Infections are especially common in women for two reasons: 1) the urethra is shorter which may make it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder, and 2) since the vagina is so close to the rectal area, the transfer of bacteria from your stool to your vagina is extremely easy.
Although bacteria is what causes bladder infections, knowing what causes the bacteria is important!
These possible causes of bacterial infections include:
- Wiping from back to front in the bathroom: Ladies, even when you're peeing it's crucial you reach around to wipe from front to back.
- Transfer of bacteria during sex: Vaginal sex or anal sex will transfer bacteria. Showering, or at least washing up, before and after sex and being careful to avoid anything that might transfer bacteria is always wise. It's equally important to urinate immediately after sex (yes, it kills the romantic mood to get up and pee, but it also helps to expel any potential bacteria before it makes itself at home).
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough water (at least half your weight in ounces) can cause infrequent urination, creating a stagnant and welcoming environment for bacteria. Drinking lots of water is also part of this bladder infection home remedy regimen.
- "Holding it": Not going when you need to go is extremely dangerous, especially as it can "back up", pushing against the valves that keep your urine from traveling back up to the kidneys or weakening the muscles of the bladder, creating a difficulty in emptying completely next time (giving you that "stagnancy" mentioned above). Pee behind a tree if you have to, but never, ever hold it, especially if you're pront to infection.
- Poor hygiene: Not cleaning often enough, or well enough, can increase your risk of infections. Even if you don't need to shower daily, it's still important to wash the genital area.
- Soaping or douching: Using soap around the genital area, or using a douche, can throw off the natural balance of good bacteria and pH in your system. Skip both and opt for warm water and a wash cloth instead.
- Non-cotton underwear: Silk, nylon, polyester or other synthetic fibers can make it difficult for the genitals to "breathe". Aways choose cotton underwear.
- Tight-fitting clothing: For the same reason as above, tight-fitting clothing doesn't allow air circulation to the genitals. Avoid tight-fitting clothing, especially when you are using a bladder infection home remedy to treat a UTI.
- Too many antibiotics: Yes, you heard me right. Antibiotics kill off good bacteria, the kind that help our bodies remain healthy, fight off bad bacteria and keep our systems in balance. Taking probiotics regularly will help (described more below).
- Vesicoureteral Reflux: This is less common, but an important thing to consider if you get chronic bladder infections (constantly reoccurring). This is when the valve formed by the ureter does not close properly. It is very common in children and usually outgrown by adulthood or in a person's mid to late 20's. In extreme cases surgery may be necessary to fix the problem, which is why talking to a good, holistic doctor is always wise. (Read more about Vesicoureteral Reflux here.)
Now that we've looked at what causes bladder infections and some ways to prevent them, let's look at the home remedies that work to support your body through them.
Bladder Infection Home Remedy Regimen
This is my personal complete bladder infection home remedy regimen used at the first sign of an infection and beyond. It's been the most effective I've found.
(My particular experience with bladder infections have been primarily a history of Vesicoureteral Reflux causing weakened bladder muscles, for those of you who are perpetually curious.)
IMPORTANT: If you're pregnant or nursing, talk to your doctor or an herbalist about which herbs or supplements to take. And just because your symptoms recede doesn't mean your infection has gone. A urinalysis never hurts and can help tremendously.
Before the Infection
If you get chronic infections, especially due to Vesicoureteral Reflux, your own bladder infection home remedy regimen needs to start BEFORE the symptoms of bladder infections arise.
This should mean:
- Extra fluids: You already need at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you get chronic UTIs, increase that by at least 10%
- Eating certain foods: Cranberries (dried, unsweetened are best - naturally sweetened is second best), blueberries, and pineapple all contain compounds which help keep the urinary tract healthy. Include these regularly in your cereals, smoothies, as snacks, etc. They should become your new favorite foods!
- Taking a regular probiotic: You want a time-released, double coated system, so that it reaches your gut, and at least 6 billion CFUs of active probiotic and prebiotic cultures.
- And then always follow the recommendations above for preventing UTIs, obviously!
At the First Hint of Infection
This is sort of Phase One of this bladder infection home remedy regimen:
- Massive increase of fluids: I generally double my water the first day or two to help flush my system clean. Be sure your water is clean and filtered (not distilled, not chlorinated, not bottled; if you need a good filter, check out Berkey's filters, an affiliate of ours and the only filter we use.)
- Increasing probiotics: I increase the brands I use (above) by 25-50% depending on what I feel I need and the intensity of my symptoms.
- Cranberry Supplements: I love the little-known brand called Peggy's Body Science Cranberry Supplements. They can be hard to find in stores, but are worth the effort to order and have on hand. If you don't choose Peggy's research your brand well to ensure high quality and at least 1,000 mg per capsule (Peggy's has 1,400 mg per). I start with two capsules 3x a day until I know if the infection is for sure.
If it never passes the "hint stage" I keep at this routine for a full week, just to be sure. If my symptoms of an infection increase, I step up my bladder infection home remedy a notch with the following regime.
When An Infection Is Certain (or Symptoms Strong)
Here's my complete bladder infection home remedy regimen as soon as I suspect trouble (please note that this does not forego medical attention when necessary; I've talked to my own doctor about this and so should you):
- Massive intake of water: Just like described above, it's very important to begin flushing your system so bacteria don't have time to take hold and multiply.
- Probiotics: As described above, you want to support the healthy development of good bacteria in your system, an important part of fighting infection. (I also continue these after any bladder infection home remedy regime or if I've needed to resort to an antibiotic.)
- Cranberry Supplements: Same as above, I'm going to take 2,400 mg 3x a day and continue for 5-7 days past my last sign of infection. These help to make the urinary tract inhospitable to bacteria. It's said that bacteria can't "grab on", so they get flushed out and can't multiply.
- Uva Ursi: My favorite herb for bladder infections. Most popular in Europe, Uva Ursi combats bacteria with a compound known as arbutin, and has been the most effective I've found. I take 500 mg 3x a day until at least 5-7 days after my last sign of infection.
Other Beneficial Herbs and Supplements
You can also customize your bladder infection home remedy regimen with additional or alternative herbs:
- Buchu: An antiseptic and diuretic, it has shown to have good effects on the urinary system.
- Goldenseal: Probably the most widely known antibiotic, Goldenseal helps to fight infections of all kinds (although it's not as targeted to the urinary system as Uva Ursi seems to be).
- Vitamin C: Your immune system needs all the support it can get.
- Horsetail (shavegrass): Primarily a diuretic, it may help cleanse out the urinary system.
- Nasturtium/Watercress: This one acts as a natural antibiotic, as well.
- Marshmallow, mullien, and parsley all help with inflammation, which commonly occurs with UTIs of any sort.
- Find more herbal possibilities here.
For herbs we love and support our affiliate, Mountain Rose Herbs. Most links above go to their shop.
Other Beneficial Oils to Support Normal Urinary Function
You can also support a healthy urinary system with some of these essential oils:
- Juniper Berry
- Learn more about these and other oils here.
When to See Your Doctor
ANY bladder infection home remedy has its limits. If your symptoms persist past a day or reoccur frequently, if you're pregnant or nursing, if you're wanting to treat anyone non-communicative (elderly, infants, toddlers, very ill, etc), if you're getting constant or chronic infections, or your symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, or pain near your kidneys, these are all signs to see a doctor PRONTO.
Remember frequent, untreated, or mistreated infections (or even treating for the wrong kind of bacteria) can cause serious long-term damage to your urinary tract, including your bladder and kidneys. It can result in scarring, and even cancer or (rarely) death.
Take your health seriously! Know when a bladder infection home remedy is warranted and when it's not. Know your body. And know your doctor well. Choose one you trust deeply, who doesn't overprescribe antibiotics (so you can trust when they do), and who supports seeking natural and alternative remedies whenever possible.
(P.S. If you do choose to take an antibiotic, be sure to follow it with a regimen of probiotics for at least 6 months to completely restore the good bacteria to your system.