Next to hormonal disturbance, urinary tract infections are the most common complaint I hear about in my women-centered integrative nutrition practice. Moreover, I’ve dealt with several UTIs myself and know personally how uncomfortable, limiting and persistent they can be.
Western physicians almost always prescribe antibiotics for UTI… But what happens when they don’t work? Or, when they don’t eradicate the entirety of the infection? And what about the devastating effects of antibiotics - and especially repeat antibiotics - on gut health? These questions are imperative to consider in an increasingly antibiotic resistant landscape.
E. coli is generally the culprit bacteria in cases of UTI, and there are various strains that circulate. According to Stephen Buher, author of Herbal Antibiotics, a new strain of E. coli emerged in 2008 (ST131) and is extremely virulent and antibiotic resistant. In fact, ST131 is only one resistance gene short of being untreatable.
Scary, right? Fortunately there are herbs with antibiotic function that are specifically effective in treating E. coli ST131.
Two heavy hitters are juniper berry tincture and bidens tincture. I have employed these herbs successfully in the following dosage: 30 drops juniper 3-5 x daily and 30 drops bidens 3-5 x daily, for at least two weeks, but up to 30 days if an infection is persistent.
In addition to herbs, a large dose of D Mannose powder can help to flush E. coli from the urinary tract. Specifically, 5 g in water 4 x per day. (Note that many D Mannose capsule supplements are formulated in smaller doses that aren’t as effective at flushing virulent bacteria.)
Taking UTI Specific Probiotics is another key to recovery. In the fist two weeks of treatment you may require up to four, 50 billion count capsules per day; two in the morning and two in the evening. It’s a pricey part of the protocol, but integral in my experience.
Another point to consider is that scar tissue often develops when you have a UTI, and that scar tissue predisposes you to more UTIs. (Feeling like you can’t get a break yet?) This is because bacteria more readily adheres to scar tissue than it does to regular tissue. Fortunately, taking a daily UTI probiotic and 5 g of D Mannose powder before sex works well to prevent repeat infections.