Urinary Tract Infection? Symptoms & Natural Methods for Relief! (Prevent, Soothe, Heal)
If you've ever had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), also known as a bladder infection, then you know the pain can be agonizing. Like, almost as bad as labor pains. At the very least, it's a painful annoyance, and at the worst, you can experience passing blood, pus, and crystals. Sorry to be so graphic, but THAT's the kind of bladder infection I chronically experienced for over 15 years in my younger days. Urinary Tract Infections are AWFUL---and they are even worse if you visit a doctor and still can't find relief.
I was inspired to write this article because a good friend of mine who is a high school teacher, has had an awful time recovering from a very bad UTI. Teachers can't always use the restroom when they need to because they are duty bound by a schedule, so UTI's are super common for school teachers (ask me how I know). So---to all the school teachers out there: This one's for you!
All About Urinary Tract Infections & Some Natural Remedies to Prevent and Heal
You know what? When I had my very first UTI/bladder infection, I was going to college, and I had NO idea what on earth was happening to me. When I had to use the restroom for about the 10th time in the middle of the night, and finally blood, crystal, and pus emerged instead of urine, the pain was immense, and I couldn't get hold of my parents to ask them what to do.... I wouldn't wish that on any young girl.
Since then, I've educated myself very well on these types of infections, especially since I had them chronically for about 15 years due to factors I didn't understand. Finally, I figured out there are some highly effective natural ways to prevent and heal from a UTI, especially if it is just getting started in your body.
Prescription antibiotics mess up your system, my friends. And when you are taking a lot of them, anti-biotics can do some unGodly things to your micro-biome, causing even more infections to occur because your immune system can actually become compromised by the imbalance.
Little did I know back then, that the anti-biotics I was taking at that time for my skin condition (Rosacea) were not doing me any favors (nor were they helping my skin condition). In fact, I suspect my body actually became resistant to some antibiotics because I had been prescribed so many.
If we don't know any better, we go to our doctor and turn over our power to make healing decisions for ourselves to that person---and hope for the best. We hope our doctor asks us the right questions about other medications we are taking and has the knowledge to prescribe appropriate treatments. We hope our doctor has at least some basic knowledge of lifestyle changes and natural remedies that may help us first before just whipping out that prescription pad.
I hate to say this, but based on decades of experiences with the medical community, my faith in modern allopathic medicine is small--practically nonexistent. I KNOW there are times it's completely necessary to see a physician. However, for some issues, sometimes it's better to try to use natural, time-proven methods instead. The thing is....most of us just don't know these ways any more.
But I digress. Back to the UTI:
Because women have a shorter urethra (the tube urine comes through after it passes the bladder), ladies have a higher likelihood of contracting a bladder infection than men do. A UTI can include any infection in the urethra, bladder, or even kidneys.
At any rate, here is information about UTI's, what they are and what to do if you feel one coming on, and things to do if you already have one.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Here are the signs to look out for that let you know you are getting (or have) a UTI:
You may experience all or just some of these symptoms. Our bodies are all different and no two infections are the same, in my opinion. The signs I personally were tuned in to were the first 5 or 6 of these, but you may not have all of these symptoms, and you may have others in addition!
Persistent urge to urinate---You go, and then you need to go again too soon afterward
A twisting/painful feeling when urinating
A burning feeling when urinating
Urinating very small amounts frequently
Urine containing blood (may range from pink to red)
Pain or pressure in the pelvic area
You may feel overall rundown and just "sick"
You may have a fever or nausea
You may feel tired
When you are experiencing several of these symptoms, it's likely you have a full blown infection.
How to Prevent a UTI/Causes
But first....let's talk prevention. A person who has chronic bladder infections generally figures out there are some things you can do to prevent them in the first place. And what a blessing that is!
(This article is directed mainly at women, and so these preventive measures are more specific to ladies.)
This probably goes without saying, but keeping yourself clean down there is a good idea. UTI's are caused by micro-organisms entering the urethra and creating infection if the "good bacteria" can't hold them off. These micro-organisms may include bacteria or fungus.
When wiping after urination, it's very important to wipe from front to back. This keeps bacteria from the anal region back where they belong.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is blow dry the area gently after showering. I know that may sound strange, but drying the genital area thoroughly can help keep moisture-loving organisms away.
Another way to cut down on moisture is to wear cotton panties or panties that wick sweat away. It's important that the panties "breathe." Avoid wearing nylon undies or undies that are too tight.
3) Sexual Activity
Unfortunately, lots of intimacy can create conditions where a UTI can get going. I have learned it's best to urinate both before and after the act. Having urine in your bladder during sex is irritating, and bacteria may have been introduced to the urethra in a number of ways during the act. Therefore, urinating afterwards can help tremendously.
Stay hydrated! It's pretty common knowledge that you should be urinating about every two hours or so, but you know your body best. At least drink the expected eight ounces of water at least eight times a day!
5) An Acidic Environment
Ideally, the bladder maintains a fairly acidic environment because this helps cut down on bacterial growth. The best way I've found to maintain urinary system health is by taking a daily dose of cranberry.
You can drink the juice, if you like----but be sure it doesn't contain added sugar. My favorite way to take cranberry is by purchasing a quality brand of tablet or capsule and taking the recommended amount daily.
6) Take Care of Your Gut
Try to avoid antibiotics if you can. They kill all the bad (and good) bacteria in your body. You might think this is great, but your body NEEDS its good bacteria. When your body's good bacteria is gone, there is nothing keeping the bad guys from taking over.
There's been a lot of talk about candida lately, and I believe from my own experience that making sure your gut is healthy is the best thing you can do for your overall immune system.
Here's how to help maintain a healthy gut:
Take or consume probiotics. The best way to get these, in my opinion, is by eating fresh, raw fermented foods. You can make them yourself very easily, or you can purchase them in the refrigerated area in good health grocers. Here's an article to read about fermentation and why you should be eating fermented foods if you are interested in this strategy (which I think everyone should be---it's life-changing). There are other fermentation articles on the blog too.
Avoid added sugars---Sugar is in practically all processed foods these days. You won't know it by looking at the labels, though, because manufacturers have devised all kinds of sneaky ways to sugar up your foods and poison you without you being aware. My rule of thumb is if I don't know what it is and what it does, then I don't put it in my body.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you and it is actually turned to a sugar in your system.
You might want to try cutting out grains/seeds that contain gluten. Going gluten free was a game-changer for me. I'm not always eating gluten-free, but when I do, I feel a huge difference.
7) Trim, Don't Shave---Or Better Yet, Be Natural
Most ladies aren't aware that God made our bodies a certain way for a reason. Besides being carriers of pheromones (the scent molecules that attract the opposite sex), your body hair serves an important purpose. The hair down there actually helps keep bacteria away from your urethra.
I know shaving is all the rage these days, but you might want to consider going au naturale! Or at least go for a little trim, and leave some of that natural protection behind. Just saying.....
8) A Healthy Immune System
You can read more about boosting your immune system in this article: How to Prevent a Cold or Flu Naturally. and How to Stop a Cold/Flu in Their Tracks. Both of these articles deal with immune system health.
If you have a healthy immune system, it's far more likely your body will be able to fight off infections of all kinds.
9) Urinary Tonic Tea Daily
If you are very prone to bladder infections, drinking a tea made with tonic herbs that support the urinary system daily can be extremely helpful. Here's a recipe inspired by Rosemary Gladstar in her book, Medicinal Herbs:
1 part Chickweed
1 part Dandelion leaf
1 part Nettle leaf
1 part Marshmallow root or leaf
Mix and prepare as a tea infusion. If you are not sure what that is, here is an article that discusses making your own herbal infusions for daily health.
Here's why these herbs work:
Chickweed is an exceptional diuretic, so it will help you pass extra liquids, which not only cleanses your urinary system, it helps move the bacteria out. Both Nettle and Dandelion are detoxifiers, diuretics as well, and are full of nutrition. The Marshmallow is a demulcent herb, which means it is incredibly soothing to inflamed tissues in your body.
Where I Get My Herbs:
If I don't grow or wild-harvest them, I purchase my medicinal and culinary herbs from Starwest Botanicals. Once you've tried loose herbs, you'll never go back to those stale old store bought herbs!
How to Heal Your UTI Naturally
OK. You're feeling it! It's coming! YIKES! What's a girl to do?
Well, there are some things you can do right away that may get rid of that infection. Some things to do include taking herbal tinctures.
Making or purchasing tinctures made with anti-biotic herbs can be extremely helpful.
My favorite tincture is one made with 2 parts Juniper, 1 part Goldenseal, and 1 part Elderberry. If I know I'm getting a bladder infection for sure, then I'll use this several times a day. Uva Ursi is another well-known herb used for bladder infections, but I don't have it growing around here. If you do, though, or would like to purchase some, it's a great preventive herb.
Both Juniper and Uva Ursi are excellent antibacterials for the urinary tract. Goldenseal is a general anti-biotic herb, and Elderberry is an incredible immune system boosting herb. Again, check out Starwest Botanicals for your herbs and even teas that are already blended for medicinal purposes.
The other best things you can do right away include:
Stop having intercourse until it's gone
Increase the cranberry dosage---I'll triple or even quadruple it for myself
Drink extra fluids to increase urination
Take a Valerian tincture in the evening. Valerian has mild anti-spasmodic properties in addition to being a sedative. So, it helps with pain too.
Use a homeopathic brand like AZO for UTI pain relief. They make a great pain reliever for UTI's (same stuff as the prescription, although the dosage may be less, I'm not certain), and sometimes taking this with all the other remedies above will get rid of even a bad UTI.
These are all the things I do when I feel that UTI coming on.
But what if you're desperate and can't stand the pain?
When to See a Doctor
I'll tell you what.
I'll never say you shouldn't go see a doctor. There's always a time and place for everything.
When that pain hits you and you're scared of using the restroom (about every five minutes) because it just hurts SO darn bad, I completely understand that you might just want to get to the doctor for some hopeful relief.
For myself, I just prefer not to because I know what my own body needs at this point in my life.
So, please use your best judgment. And if you are leery of trying herbal medicine, do some research! Check out the herbs mentioned above or ask an herbalist friend in your area if they have a tincture or tea they can use. Using natural remedies is so often so much more effective and gentle to your body than using Rx choices.
I can think of very little worse than experiencing chronic bladder infections (or even just one isolated one, for that matter). They are just miserable, and if you get the extreme kind like I used to get before I turned to natural healing methods through food and herbs, then I completely understand. Girl, I feel your pain, I really do.
Even though it's been over 10 years since I've had a bladder infection (and that one was quite tiny), I can still vividly recall the horrors and pain of the kind I used to have back in my twenties and into my thirties. I hope you'll consider taking the prevention advice above, and my prayers are with you that you find relief and never experience one again.
Would you like to know more about becoming an herbalist? You might be interested in these eight tips for learning how to use herbs!
Are you a person who has really horrible bladder infections? What are your thoughts? Maybe you have an idea to share here in the comments?
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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P.P.S. Have you ever thought about learning more about herbal medicine? Have you wanted to heal yourself naturally or known how to take herbs for daily health and energy? Do you want your family to experience natural health? The Herbal Academy of New England has some incredible courses available no matter what your experience with herbs! I hope you'll check them out!
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a medical doctor. The statements in this article and elsewhere in my publications are not meant or implied to cure, treat, diagnose, or prevent any illness or disease. Always seek advice from a medical professional, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on medication. These statements are informational only and are simply my personal opinion based on my own experiences and study. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. For full disclosures and disclaimers.