UTIs are more common than you think and can be extremely irritating. But what exactly is a UTI? If you’re not well-versed on the subject, don’t worry. We’ll not only discuss what a UTI is and how it comes to be, but also the symptoms and risk factors associated with it. And like most things, there’s more than one way to treat it naturally.
Essential oils and the properties they possess have been used for centuries to help cure infections, heal wounds, and ward off sickness. But can they help with a UTI? UTIs can be troublesome, painful, and can sometimes cause serious complications. They can also be recurring, causing many people to become resistant to antibiotics that can treat it. Essential oils are certainly a viable option, when doing so smartly. We’ll help you find the best essential oils for preventing and treating UTIs and the symptoms.
Table of Contents
What Is A UTI?
A UTI is a urinary tract infection; an infection that can affects the urinary system. The urinary system includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. While they can occur in any part of that system, they most commonly involve the urethra and the bladder, which are part of the lower urinary tract. Both men and women and have this type of affection, although women are at a greater risk. A UTI by itself can be both irritating and painful, and if it spreads to the kidneys there could be serious concerns.
Urinary tract infections can happen when certain bacterium enters the urinary tract and begins to multiply while in the bladder. A person’s urinary system is naturally designed to protect the body against bacterial invaders such as these, but sometimes those defense systems don’t work. When the urinary system cannot keep the bacteria out, it grows into an infection in the urinary tract.
There are two main types of infections, with both being more common among women. An infection of the bladder is typically caused by a certain kind of bacteria found in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, E. coli. Infections of the urethra can happen because of sexual intercourse and more commonly, when GI bacteria spread to the urethra from the anus.
If a UTI is treated properly, it rarely leads to any kind of complications. If it goes untreated however, it can have serious consequences on your body. A UTI can cause complications like:
- The narrowing of the urethra in men
- The increased risk of premature/low-weight births
- Infections that are recurrent
- A life-threatening condition, sepsis
- Damage to the kidneys that is permanent
What Are The Symptoms Of A Urinary Tract Infection?
UTIs are easily and commonly overlooked and mistaken for other conditions in adults. There can be absolutely no signs or symptoms of a UTI, or even just mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Experiencing a burning sensation or pain when urinating
- Having urine that smells strongly
- Having urine that seems to look bright pink, red, or soda-colored- this is a sign of blood in the urine
- Having urine that seems cloudy
- Strong, persistent urges to urinate
- Frequent urinations with small amounts of urine
- Pain (mostly in women) around the center of the pelvis and near the pubic bone.
While those are the more generalized symptoms, each type of UTI can have its own more-specific symptoms; it just depends on which part of the urinary system is affected. Symptoms that are more specific for each area of the urinary tract include:
- Bladder: painful/frequent urination, discomfort in the lower abdomen, pressure in the pelvis, and blood in the urine
- Urethra: discharge and burning while urinating
- Kidneys: nausea/vomiting, fever, shaking/chills, and upper back/side pain
Women seem to be more at risk for UTIs than men because the bacteria in female anatomy can spread easily. Women also have a shorter urethra than men, which means the bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to get to the bladder. Other factors that make women more at-risk for a UTI is sexual activity, using certain types of birth control (like diaphragms and items using spermicidal agents), and experiencing hormonal/menopausal changes.
Other possible causes of bacterial infections include wiping from back to front instead of front to back, dehydration, not going to the bathroom when you need to go (‘holding it’), having poor hygiene, using soap around the genital area, using non-cotton underwear, and being on too many antibiotics.
Those aren’t the only factors that can help cause a UTI. People born with abnormalities in their urinary tract for example, are at an increased risk. Also, experiencing kidney stones or an enlarged prostate can put you at greatest risk. Other factors like using catheters and recent surgery can also spark a UTI.
Best Essential Oils For Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs can be painful and annoying. Many people have issues with recurring UTIs and are always looking for ways to help. A UTI doesn’t always need an antibiotic or more serious treatment plan; and essential oils are one of the ways you can help treat it. Awareness surrounding essential oils has grown tremendously in recent decades, with studies showing that some essential oils can actually fight against bacterial infections.
Before discussing the essential oils that can help the pain and irritation of a urinary tract infection, you’ll need to know some important basics about using essential oils for this type of infection. Normally, the urinary tract is a sterile area and you wouldn’t want to introduce anything foreign to the area. Because of this, it’s important to dilute oils before they are put onto the skin. This can be done by placing 1-5 drops of the essential oil into 1 ounce of carrier oil. You can find carrier oils in almond, coconut, sunflower, and olive.
You should apply these oils to your mons pubis, inner thighs, and outside the labia. If you place it directly on the skin anywhere else you may risk irritation. These oils can also be placed on a hot compress and placed on the lower abdomen. Using a diffuser with the oils is also a good option for those whose skin is easily irritated. Essential oils should never be ingested without speaking to your doctor first, and it’s important to try a small portion (when applying to the skin) to begin with to watch for irritation. Always watch for signs of allergic reaction and when in doubt, use a small amount to begin with.
Studies have found that lemongrass can be helpful against drug-resistant microorganisms- meaning that those who become resistant to antibiotics could find comfort in this essential oil. Lemongrass has been found to work against several very common pathogens like S. aureus, B. subtilis, B. cereu, K. pneumoniae, and E.coli (the main bacteria that causes UTIs). Lemongrass is becoming a commonly-used essential oil when it comes to infections, because it can fight certain bacteria when other antibiotics cannot. It doesn’t hurt that it smells lovely, also.
For centuries, Frankincense has been used for its essential healing properties in a wide variety of ways. It’s loaded with a serious amount of compounds that promote the body’s ability to heal, while also giving the immune system a little boost. The oil is known as a ‘tonic,’ meaning that it is an overall health enhancer. Frankincense helps keep the urinary tract clean, but also helps give your body strength to fight off the invading bacteria when it’s used for prevention. Frankincense has even been known to help with a good night’s sleep.
Clove is a triple threat, as it is antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial. It can be used to prevent infections, promote quick healing, and reduce inflammation caused by infection, because it even has pain relieving and immune-boosting properties. It has the ability to kill parasites and bacteria, and can even act as a pain-reliever.
4. Tea Tree
Tea Tree oil is added into a wide variety of items to help promote health. Adding this to a bath can help clear unwanted bacteria from the body, and its vapors are known to be effective at inhibiting the growth of the bacteria, E. coli. Tea Tree oil can be used as prevention or as a treatment option for the bacteria that is already affecting the urinary system.
Oregano does more than flavor food. One study showed that it actually had the ability to halt the growth of the bacteria, E. coli. And as we’ve discussed, E/coli is the number one bacteria that causes UTIs. Some people even believe that the promise shown in oregano is so great, that it could be considered a replacement for antibiotics. It has serious potential when it comes to effectiveness and quickness in healing. One reason it’s a contender with antibiotics is because it doesn’t increase resistance to antibiotics in bacteria.
6. Juniper Berry
This oil is known for its support of the kidney and urinary systems. Its detoxifying properties can even prevent infections from growing worse if taken at the infection’s first appearance. When used topically, it can prevent bacterial migration. It’s both antibacterial and anti-fungal, and even has diuretic properties. Juniper Berry works in two ways- fighting infection and speeding up the healing process.
Just like clove, this essential oil is a triple treat. It’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. And just like Frankincense, it’s been used for centuries for treat infections and other ailments. It can be used internally (after discussing it with your doctor), but is mostly used topically on a warm/cool compress.
Bergamot can be used to help deal with pain in the lower abdomen and it’s known for its serious ability to fight infections. It particularly works well fighting infections in the urinary and kidney system. It can be used in a bath to cleanse and help prevent infection. It can also be used to manage infections, soothe inflammation, and even sooth itching associated with infection.
This oil comes with the steamed branches of the cypress tree. Not only does it smell amazing, but it’s commonly used for liver and urinary support because of its balancing effects. Cypress helps balance the natural bacteria and microorganisms in the body, helping return liver/urinary systems back to normal. It can be used in a bath to help get rid of infection or topically.
Sage is a lot like Cypress; antibacterial, but is also extremely effective against the most common UTI bacteria, E. coli. Its effects on E. coli make it the perfect option for UTI treatment. It can also be effective against other bacterium and can be used in a hot/cold compress or as massage oil.
This can be used in a compress, or in a bath, or even in tea. Sandalwood can help soothe symptoms associated with UTIs. It will not get rid of the infection, but it does help with the symptoms as your body fights the infection. Sandalwood also has fans because of its natural, woody scent.
These essential oils can help you naturally protect yourself from a UTI and other infections. Not only can they help prevent the infection in the first place, but they can help get rid of current infections, help ease discomfort and pain, and even help you sleep better at night. Many of these have been used since ancient times; and for good reason. Please remember, if you use essential oils, do so responsibly and if symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
Other Natural Remedies
We are an observant and clever species. We notice patterns and correlations of action and result, and we modify our behaviour to bring about the result that we desire. Due to this adaptive behavior – we began to take note of various natural treatments and shared those treatments through stories and legends that were passed down through the generations.
In the modern centuries, we have made a rather arrogant mistake of dismissing those treatments because we don’t believe the stories. In reality, this doesn’t necessarily invalidate those treatments. It just means that we haven’t explained the treatments in natural terms yet.
Recently, the connecting power of the internet has resparked this power of the community to discover new methods of treatment before the medical community has time to explain them.
I respect modern medicine, but I also respect the power of time and random chance to reveal medicinal discoveries. I also respect the modern power of the internet to rapidly find new methods of treatment that have not yet been embraced by our doctors. That said, some of these natural remedies and recommendations have studies to back up the claims, and some of them have not yet been verified. I will do my best to find modern studies to back up the claims.
Before antibiotics, Uva Ursi, better known as Bearberry was the common treatment for UTIs. It is a very effective, but it does contain a chemical called hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is believed to be toxic to the liver. According to one report, those claims are from animal studies, and direct evidence still needs to be acquired.
I’d suggest being very careful and only take this for the suggested five days or less. As they say, the difference between a medicine and poison is in the dose. The reports regarding clearing Urinary Tract Infections is very positive on Amazon, so it has that going for it.
That Classic Cure – Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
There are several studies that have verified the claims that cranberry juice is fantastic for overcoming a UTI. According to those studies, the bacteria that cause the infection are not killed. They are flushed. In a urinary tract infection, the bacteria latch onto the endothelial wall of the bladder (The inner walls), but the cranberry juice makes that wall difficult to grasp. If they can’t grab onto the wall, then they slip and slide right out of your body.
Study One: Gynecological surgeries increase risk of a UTI, but the risk is halved by cranberry pills.
Study Two: Cranberry Juice helps prevent infections in adult women. Children were not tested.
Study Three: Cranberry Juice was shown to be effective at reducing bacterial infection of the UI tract in mice.
Note: There seems to be a lack of testing on the effect of cranberry juice on men. This could be due to the increased risk of UTI’s in women, and that making them the focus of these tests. Our bladders are mostly similar, and the endothelial walls are identical as far as I can tell, so men will likely receive the same benefits as women.
Drink Lots of Water
This is both preventative and an effective treatment. Drinking more water will help to flush out the bacteria. Think of bacteria in a pond versus the bacteria in a river. A constant flow will keep the infection from taking root.
Study One: Greater water intake reduced the probability of infection as much as 45% for the general population. It also decreased the risk of a recurring infection by 33%.
At least some (maybe all) of the proclaimed benefits of acupuncture are suspect in my opinion. I’m not dismissing acupuncture because I find a treatment that has persisted for eons difficult to dismiss. However, I wonder if the wide ranging benefits of acupuncture are exaggerated by its proponents. That said, there are practiced treatments for urinary tract infections, but I am having trouble finding studies that back up the claims.
Limit Glucose (Sugar) and Increase Vitamin C
This might seem like two separate tips, but it isn’t. Vitamin C and glucose have a similar enough molecular composition and shape to trigger the same protein receptors that allow the vitamin c to enter cells. Since they fight for entry into the same cells, having more sugar means that vitamin c will have a more difficult time doing its job.
It is extremely easy to overload your bloodstream with glucose because there are so many sources of it in the typical diet (glucose, fructose, lactose, and carbohydrates). At any given moment, your body only requires roughly a teaspoon of sugar in the bloodstream, and it can produce what it needs through a process called gluconeogenesis.
I’m not asking you to cut out sugar because your body has to adjust to that kind of diet. However, limiting your sugar intake would be a very good idea while your body is trying to fight off the infection.
Study 1: Study showing how Vitamin C and Sugar fight for the same receptors
Okay, that is everything that I am going to write for now. I hope this information helps you achieve better health. Have a great day and get well soon!