Drinking water promotes urination, which sweeps bacteria out of your urinary tract and has a positive effect on recovering from UTIs. Medical recommendations for bladder health suggest drinking enough water that you need to go to the bathroom at least every 3 to 4 hours.
Drinking fermented milk products that are high in probiotics has been linked to decreased risk of urinary tract infections. Probiotics are also available in supplement form, and preliminary research indicates that these may be helpful in maintaining urinary tract health and treating UTIs, particularly for people who have recurrent infections. A review of literature concluded that probiotics are a safe and likely effective alternative to antibiotics for uncomplicated UTIs.
The naturally-occurring chemicals found in green tea, known as catechins, could potentially have antimicrobial effects on UTIs caused by E. Coli bacteria. Drinking green tea is a safe home remedy for urinary tract infections and has additional health benefits as well.
Ginger has antimicrobial properties, though there is little research into its effect on urinary tract infections specifically. Multiple studies, however, have shown that ginger tea is a safe home remedy, and drinking tea encourages good urination. Research also indicates that certain concentrations of rosemary extract have antibacterial effects on the bacteria that cause UTIs.
Mannose is a type of sugar that is found in some fruits. As it passes through the body, mannose prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract. Initial research has shown that taking mannose, known as D-mannose in supplement form, may be effective in reduciong the risk of recurrent UTIs. Some studies have even found that it is more effective than antibiotics at preventing recurrent urinary tract infections.
Drinking cranberry juice is not recommended for the prevention of UTIs.
You should avoid some common home remedies for urinary tract infections. These include:
- Vitamin C
- Baking soda and water
Taking vitamin C supplements is popularly considered to treat urinary tract infections by increasing the acidity of your urine. However, research does not show that vitamin C improves UTI symptoms or prevents recurrent infections. Many clinical trials on using vitamin C to prevent urinary tract infections have produced mixed or inconclusive results.
Drinking a baking soda and water mixture can improve symptoms of a UTI, including pain and the urge to urinate. However, research indicates this treatment poses serious health risks by causing imbalances of electrolytes, acids, and bases in your body. This is especially true for people who take antacids, pregnant women, and children. Using baking soda and water as a home remedy for urinary tract infections should be avoided unless approved by a doctor.
When taking supplements, it is a good idea to ask your doctor about safe options, as the supplement industry is largely unregulated in the United States. Some supplements contain ingredients that can interact negatively with other drugs or medical conditions.
If you use home remedies for your urinary tract infection but your symptoms do not resolve within a week, it is important to seek medical help. UTIs can develop into kidney infections, which can cause dangerous health complications.
March 25, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA