Each year, millions of people (predominantly women) develop urinary tract infections. UTIs cause the tissues of the urinary tract to become swollen and irritated. This inflammation can partially obstruct the normal flow of urine, making urination painful and difficult.
Over 90% of UTIs are caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli). Conventional medicine generally uses antibiotics to treat UTIs, which can usually be effective in eliminating the infection in three or four days. But antibiotics are not targeted missiles that only eliminate the “bad” pathogenic bacteria; they are weapons of mass destruction, equal opportunity killers that also wipe out millions of important friendly bacteria that are critical to gastrointestinal function, a strong immune system, and achieving optimum health.
While antibiotics can alleviate UTI symptoms, the collateral damage (elimination of the friendly bacteria) may lead to a variety of adverse health effects including nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Our friendly bacteria also help control an overgrowth of unfriendly yeasts like Candida albicans. The balance is important; there is less room for pathogenic organisms to flourish when there are large quantities of beneficial bacteria present.
D-Mannose: Effective in over 90% of UTIs
D-mannose is a simple sugar related to glucose that is found in many fruits including cranberries, blueberries, and apples. Because D-mannose is absorbed more slowly than other sugars, it doesn’t raise insulin levels and is safe for diabetics.
If a urinary tract infection is caused by E. coli bacteria, drinking a glass of purified, chlorine-free water with one teaspoon of D-mannose powder combined with a probiotic every 2-3 hours for five days should eliminate the bacteria and help restore health to the bladder and urinary tract without negatively affecting the “good” bacteria. Taking D-mannose doesn’t lead to the side effects commonly associated with antibiotics, which can include yeast infections, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems. Health professionals knowledgeable in natural medicine have been recommending D-mannose for over 30 years because it works so well.
Once D-mannose enters the bloodstream, it is filtered by the kidneys and incorporated into the urine, where it attaches to the E. coli bacteria, preventing it from sticking to the cell walls of the bladder or urinary tract, resulting in easy elimination (as long as you’re drinking enough water). You can amplify these benefits by drinking unsweetened cranberry juice.
D-mannose is so safe and effective it can be taken by women even during pregnancy and as a preventive. It’s also safe for children, who can also get UTIs. I recommend a probiotic supplement be taken at the same time as D-mannose to ensure high levels of good bacteria are produced by the body.
The term “honeymoon cystitis” refers to the UTIs that can develop from sexual intercourse. One tablespoon of D-mannose in a 10-ounce glass of water before and after intercourse may help eliminate these infections. Women with recurrent UTIs that are not sex related can often benefit by taking D-mannose as a preventive.
About 10% of UTIs are caused by other bacteria, including infections transmitted through sexual contact like Mycoplasma, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Chlamydia. UTIs can also be caused by Staphylococcus or Proteus bacteria. For bacteria other than E. coli, I first recommend monolaurin, a fatty acid extracted from coconut oil, with antibiotics as a last resort.
Monolaurin is one of the many healthful nutrients found in breast milk, helping to strengthen the immune system while protecting newborn babies from microbial infections. Over 30 years ago, researchers found that monolaurin has significant antimicrobial (antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-yeast, and antiprotozoal) activity, and can be effective in eliminating or inactivating fungi and yeasts (including Candida albicans). Available commercially as Lauricidin, monolaurin was also found to be effective against bacteria and lipid coated viruses that include herpes simplex type I (cold sores), type II (genital herpes), type III (varicella zoster, shingles) and type IV (Epstein-Barr, infectious mononucleosis).
If treatment with D-mannose or monolaurin is not successful and antibiotics are prescribed by your health professional, I recommend taking a quality multi-strain probiotic a minimum of three hours before and after the antibiotic. Within the three hour window, the antibiotic could kill the beneficial bacteria in the probiotic supplement. Probiotic use should be continued for a minimum of one month after the completion of any antibiotic treatment, however I believe a quality probiotic should be part of everyone’s daily health program.
Dietary changes or the use of natural products to address any health concern should be discussed with your health professional. Supplementing a balanced diet with D-mannose, monolaurin, and probiotics may help naturally alleviate the unpleasant symptoms of a urinary tract infection and potentially avoid the problems associated with antibiotics.
Nathan Zassman is the owner and president of Aviva Natural Health Solutions.