Naturopathic Treatment for UTI

The natural therapeutics outlined in this section may help patients get through an existing urinary tract infection (UTI) without antibiotics. Some doctors believe that antibiotics contribute to recurrent infections from increasingly resistant bacteria. Lifestyle precautions and supportive natural measures can help reduce recurrent urinary tract infections.

Alkalinize the Urine

Although some controversy remains concerning what pH level is most conducive to bacteria growth in the urinary tract, most evidence indicates that UTIs benefit from an alkaline pH. The easiest way to alkalinize the urine is with minerals, specifically potassium citrate and sodium citrate. All citrates encourage an alkaline shift; so patients already taking a calcium/magnesium supplement should switch to a calcium citrate/magnesium citrate preparation. Mineral supplements should not be taken before bedtime, as urine that remains in the bladder during sleep may irritate the tissue and promote an infection.

Disinfect the Urinary Tract

Some herbs have been clinically shown to have antiseptic properties. Drinking these herbs in beverage form throughout the day may be beneficial.

Drinking at least 16 ounces a day of cranberry or blueberry juice (not the sugar-sweetened variety) can have a preventative and therapeutic effect. These juices have antibiotic properties that interfere with the ability of bacteria to adhere to the bladder or urethral tissue. Choose a juice sweetened with apple or grape juice.

UTI & Herbal Therapeutics

The following herbal remedies usually do not cause side effects when used regularly at the suggested doses. Rarely, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, only high quality, standardized extract formulas are recommended.

If possible, consult with a natural health practitioner such as a holistic medical doctor or licensed naturopathic physician before beginning any alternative treatment plan. As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and, in rare cases, death.

A naturopathic physician may prescribe that one of these herbal preparations be used 3 to 4 times per day during a urinary tract infection:

  • Goldenseal root – This herb has a long and well-documented history as a powerful antimicrobial agent. Use as a tea made from 1 tsp of dried herb per cup of hot water; in capsule form (1000 mg); or as a tincture (1 to 2 teaspoons in warm water).
  • Uva Ursi – Clinical research proves traditional use as an antiseptic with soothing and strengthening properties. Use as a tea made from 2 tsp of herb per cup of hot water; or as a tincture (1 to 2 teaspoons in warm water).

Other herbs to consider as tea:

  • Cleavers (Galium aparine) has a long history of use in treatment of urinary infections.
  • Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis) has very soothing demulcent properties. Best used in "cold infusion." Soak herb in cold water several hours, then strain and drink.
  • Buchu is a soothing diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary system.
  • Corn silk (Zea Mays) is a soothing diuretic.
  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an astringent and mild diuretic with tissue-healing properties.
  • Usnea Lichen is very soothing and antiseptic.

Also be sure to drink 2 to 3 liters of water daily.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 08 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015