Urinary tract infections are common in women, and for some women can be recurrent and require repeated doses of antibiotics or even prophylactic antibiotics. Organisms (usually E. coli) that cause UTIs generally gain access to the bladder via the urethra (the pipe connecting the bladder with the outside). Some of the strategies that may help to prevent UTI is to drink plenty of water (to help flush the bladder and urethra of organism), urinating quite soon are sexual intercourse (intercourse increases the risk of organisms being introduced into the urethra) and wiping after going to the toilet from front to back (reducing the risk that organisms will be introduced into the urethra).
In addition, certain natural agents can help, and perhaps the most well known of these is cranberry. Research has discovered that cranberry has the ability to reduce the ability of E. coli organisms to ‘stick’ to the lining of the urinary tract. This means that E. coli has less capacity to set up camp in the urinary tract, and is therefore more likely to be flushed out of the body before it causes a bona fide infection.
More recently, further research has found that cranberry may be an effective UTI preventer in the young . In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Urology and Nephrology, girls aged 3-14 were treated with cranberry juice, or a probiotic, or nothing for a period of 6 months. The dose of cranberry was just 50 mls of juice, taken daily.
At the end of the study, rates of urinary tract infection in the cranberry, probiotic and control groups were about 18, 42 and 48 per cent respectively. The lower rate of UTI in the cranberry group was statistically significant.
Reading about this study reminded of another natural remember for UTIs which come in the form of D-mannose (a sugar). Like cranberry, D-mannose affects adhesion of E. coli to the urinary tract. It can be used in the treatment and prevention of UTIs in both children and adults.
For more details about D-mannose and how to use it, see here.
1. Ferrara P, et al. Cranberry juice for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections: a randomized controlled trial in children. Scand J Urol Nephrol 2009;43(5):369-72.