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Q: What can I do to stop chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs)?
A: Women are more prone to UTIs because a woman’s bladder opening is closer to the rectum than in men. Hopefully, ladies, your moms taught you to wipe from front to back. Clean hands and clean bottoms, especially before sex, are essential for preventing UTIs. E. coli, the most common UTI “bug,” is a natural part of the gut microbiome. It lives in the colon and helps with digestion. But it doesn’t belong in the urinary tract. Here are some natural therapies to consider for UTI prevention:
The “active ingredient” in cranberries, D-mannose helps prevent UTIs by binding to E. coli so the bug cannot attach to the bladder wall. Once the bugs are bound up, you will efficiently flush the E. coli out every time you urinate.
I prefer D-mannose in powder form, ½ tsp. every 4 waking hours at the first hint of burning and/or painful urination. Continue for up to 4 or 5 days max. If your UTI isn’t resolved by then, seek medical care, as you may have a more serious infection.
Oregon Graperoot & Goldenseal
These sulfurous botanicals can help eliminate pathogenic bugs while still passing through the gut—thus preventing them from getting to the bladder and promoting UTIs. Other bladder tonics include chima-phila (pipsissewa), uva ursi (bearberry), astragalus, and Fouquieria splendens (indigenous to the Sonoran Desert).
Kegel Exercises Can Help
I promote 50 Kegels daily for women, especially after childbirth. You can perform Kegels discreetly, anytime, anywhere. Perform the first 10 quickly—just a little flick, flick, flick up the vaginal vault. This is not clenching your anus. It’s forward of that, as though you were trying to prevent a small egg from dropping out. Follow with 10 slow Kegels. Gently draw the very bottom of your pelvic floor (that tough skin between vaginal and rectal openings) up to about the “second floor” if you think of the vaginal vault as a 10-story building. Hold as long as feasible, then gently relax. Repeat 9 times. Then 10 more quick, 10 more slow, and finish with 10 more quick.
This isn’t an instant fix for chronic UTIs, but it will absolutely help over the long run.
Hot Dogs & Other Foods to Avoid
Bad bugs in bad food get into the colon, then leak into the bladder. So to avoid UTIs, be choosy about what you put into your mouth.
Drink mostly clean water. (Kombucha, herbal teas, and unsweetened fruit or vegetable infusions are also fine.) Limit or eliminate alcohol. Choose organic foods whenever possible. Avoid processed carbs and processed factory meats (cold cuts, salami, hot dogs). Also, it’s a great idea to add both cranberries and blueberries (fresh or frozen) to your diet on a regular basis.
Find a licensed naturopathic doctor for a virtual (telemedicine) or in-person consultation at naturemed.org/find-an-nd.