What is a UTI?
UTI stands for Urinary Tract Infection and they have to be one of the most unpleasant types of bacterial infection to suffer from. UTIs can affect any part of the urinary tract including the kidneys, ureters and urethra as well as the bladder. They are sometimes called by their other name of Cystitis.
UTIs are very painful with a wide range of horrible symptoms including discomfort when passing urine which can range from slight pain to a severe burning sensation.
There is often fever and a feeling of generally being very unwell. Sufferers often want to urinate continuously due to the irritation and infection in their bladder. When they do pass water, it can be highly unpleasant and the urine will be a cloudy or darker color than normal accompanied by a strong odor. The bladder never feels completely empty and there ensues a tormenting cycle of wanting to go the toilet followed by pain and no relief being offered and on it goes.
What causes UTIs?
Bacteria most commonly from the bowel is the main cause of UTIs with the principal villains being Staphylococcus or E-Coli. It is also easy to understand why UTIs affect women more than men due to the structure of their anatomy.
Additionally, the urethra, the tube which empties the bladder, is shorter in women than in men making it easier for bacteria to invade.
The problems with antibiotics for UTIs
Many bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotic drug treatment due to prolonged use in previous decades. The bacteria that cause Urinary Tract Infections are no exception to this. So people who suffer regularly with UTIs are beginning to find the standard antibiotic of choice, usually Trimethoprim, to be ineffective.
The other problem with antibiotics is the side effects. Antibiotics will wipe out all the bacteria in the body including the friendly bacteria and can often result in a yeast infection, just what you want after a UTI.
How can essential oils help in the war against UTIs?
It is a well-known fact that many key essential oils have anti-bacterial properties, these are some of the most popular choices to combat a Urinary Tract Infection.
- Oil of Cloves – used for centuries to manage the pain and infection of toothache, oil of cloves is effective at destroying and repelling bacteria
- Cinnamon Oil – Cinnamon contains a chemical called Cinnamaldehyde which inhibits the growth of bacteria
- Cumin Essential Oil – warm and spicy, some doctors suggest taking this oil in conjunction with prescription medication for maximum efficacy
- Coriander Essential Oil – effective against stubborn bacteria so a good choice for those with a chronic or long-standing UTI and who have tried all the normal routes offered by conventional medicine
- Tea Tree Oil – a favorite choice when it comes to antibacterial performance
- Oil of Wild Oregano – majors on anti-fungal and anti-parasitical properties and excellent at inhibiting the multiplication of bacteria due to an element contained within the oil called Carvacrol
A blend of your favorite oils can be combined in a base or a carrier oil like Coconut Oil or Sweet Almond Oil.
Use a rollerball applicator to rub it gently on the soles of the feet before sleep. A warm compress on the abdomen can also help offer relief. Add a blend of your favorite oils to the compress before you apply it. A good ratio is one drop of essential oil to one drop of the carrier or base oil. Some people find a diffuser in the room can help.
The golden rule is not to have essential oils anywhere near the urinary tract itself which should be kept completely sterile. This includes dropping the oils into a warm bath. Some people use them in conjunction with conventional medication and essential oils can also be used preventatively alongside lifestyle improvements to help keep UTIs at bay.
Home remedies for UTI symptoms
There are many lifestyle suggestions that can help deflect UTIs or manage them more effectively if you do have an infection. If you have UTI symptoms here are some popular home remedies:
- Drink plenty of water – this helps to dilute the concentration of the urine and flush through bacteria if you already have a UTI and guard against infection if you don’t
- Unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the most well-known natural remedies for a UTI. Cranberries work by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, thus helping the body combat infection.
- Never put off going to the toilet whether you have an infection or not. It is easier for bacteria to build up in urine that has been sitting there waiting to go
- Take Vitamin C – it’s thought to work by increasing the acidity of your urine, which helps to fight off the bacteria that cause infection.
- When you do urinate, always make sure you empty your bladder in full. Pass water and then pause and count to ten before expelling any residue
- Always go to the toilet after sexual intercourse as this can help get rid of any troublesome bacteria that may have been transferred and ended up in the wrong place. If you can have a bath then even better
- Wear breathable and cotton products in your intimate areas. Manmade fabrics like lycra and polyester can cause a build-up of heat and sweat which is an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply
- Avoid carbonated drinks
- Do not put fragranced or scented products in your bathwater like bubble bath
- Make sure you keep the genital area clean
Most women who are veterans of UTIs recognize that telltale twinge or slightly darker colored urine as the serious warning it undoubtedly is and take prompt action.
Try These Natural Supplements
There are a few popular natural supplements available where studies have shown can help you decrease the risk of developing a UTI, or ease the discomfort.
D-Mannose (view here)
D-Mannose is a type of complex sugar that is found to occur naturally in cranberries. It has been shown to be effective in treating UTIs and preventing recurrence.
Bearberry leaf (view here)
Bearberry leaf is also known as uva-ursi. One study showed that a combination of bearberry leaf, dandelion root, and dandelion leaf decreased UTI recurrence in a test group.
Cranberry extract (view here)
In the same way cranberry juice is a go-to home remedy, cranberry extract works by preventing bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, allowing your body time to fight off the infection.
Garlic extract (view here)
Garlic has been shown to have antimicrobial properties and may be able to block the growth of bacteria to prevent UTIs.
With lifestyle changes, home remedies, and a good understanding of what your personal trigger points may be, it is possible to reduce the number of times you develop a UTI and essential oils are there to see you through the tough times when you do have one.