A few months ago, I experienced my very first urinary tract infection.
I’m recently married, and honestly, I hardly even knew what a UTI was at the time. I picked my husband up from work in the evening and rushed straight into the bathroom as soon as we got home, complaining that “I’ve had to pee all day long”.
Then the pain and the blood arrived.
I spent most of the night curled up in bed, trying to fall asleep and STAY asleep without dreaming of all the horrible things that (I imagined) could be happening to my body.
By 1:00 in the morning, after I’d visited the bathroom yet again, I researched my symptoms and indulged in a few good tears when I realized that it must be a UTI. Because everything is depressing in the middle of the night when it’s dark and lonely and your body is overrun by little beasts within. 😉
What Is A UTI?
A UTI is a urinary tract infection. It occurs when bacteria colonize in the urethra, the bladder, the ureters, or the kidneys (source).
It can be caused by poor hygiene, having sex, or other underlying gut problems. Symptoms depend on the location of the infection, but usually include burning pain during urination, a constant need to urinate, cloudy or bloody urine, and possibly fever and back/side pain. (Source.)
Natural UTI Remedies: The Tea
It soon dawned on me that — if at all possible — I wanted to try to cure my UTI by myself. Naturally, without antibiotics, and without any hospital visits.
So, being the good Traditional Cooking School child that I am, I soon found this recipe for a curative tea made from burdock root, dandelion root, hops, nettle leaf, and plantain.
The next day, I scrounged up enough herbs to make a batch of tea by pulling nettle leaf out of my cupboard and buying the only dandelion root tea our grocery store carries.
The rest of the herbs I ordered online.
The tea wasn’t nearly as effective, but it soothed, and at least temporarily, flushed my urinary tract out. Ahem, boy did it. Fast forward to taking no less than 3 muchmuchmuch-needed bathroom stops on a mere 30 minute drive.
It also kept the pain manageable for a few days until the burdock root, hops, and plantain arrived.
So why is this particular collection of herbs so effective against UTIs?
- Burdock root acts as a diuretic, is antibacterial, and helps protect against cellular damage (source).
- Dandelion root acts as a diuretic and reduces inflammation (source).
- Hops acts as a diuretic and relieves pain (source).
- Nettle leaf acts as a diuretic (source).
- Plantain acts as a diuretic and reduces inflammation (source).
The Other Natural UTI Remedies
In the meantime, I combed the internet for other natural remedies.
I combined the Immune Strength and Purify essential oil blends with a carrier oil (you guessed it, coconut oil). Then I rubbed that on my inner thighs, stomach, and neck in the morning after I showered, and at night before bed.
I also brushed my teeth with Thieves toothpaste and ate lots of probiotic yogurt. And, to make sure I didn't reverse any of my progress by feeding the infection-causing bacteria, I mostly eliminated carbohydrates and sugars from my diet. To be honest, I wasn’t very strict with that last step, and I could tell if I slacked off.
One Week Later
After about a week, by eating coconut oil, drinking lemon water and tea, and rubbing down with essential oils, the pain was gone.
However, in the mornings, I woke up feeling extremely tickly and itchy. This feeling lasted for a few hours and then subsided. I started rubbing a little bit of coconut oil on my vaginal/urethral area, and that helped somewhat.
I endured a few days of this. Then I decided that the infection, without the constant barrage of tea and other fluids it got during the daytime, had to be regaining its foothold during the night.
To fix this, I set my alarm twice every night at intervals of 3 to 4 hours, so I could get up, drink water, and use the bathroom.
This helped so much. No more tickly itchiness in the mornings.
Two Weeks Later
The combination of all of these remedies almost completely eliminated the infection. However, if I slacked on anything, especially the tea or the coconut oil, the tickliness would come back.
Then, my mom gave me this throat spray with a whole host of beneficial herbs including oregano oil, goldenseal, echinacea, and grapeseed extract.
Goodbye infection; hello happy, healthy body.
I took the spray up to 3 times a day. Within a couple days I was able to sleep through the night without tickliness the next morning. I also stopped brewing the tea every day, though I still kept drinking lots of water and other herbal teas.
Now, I still apply coconut oil as a preventative measure for any other enterprising bacteria looking to colonize my urethra.
I get to climb into bed every night smelling like a tropical garden. How cool is THAT?!
UTIs Versus Yeast Infections Versus Bacterial Vaginosis: What's The Difference?
As I already mentioned, my infection got very tickly and itchy toward the end. Could this have been a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (affecting the vagina) and not a urinary tract infection — at least at that point in time?
A yeast infection is most commonly caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. Normally, good bacteria in our bodies keep fungus at healthy, low levels. When the good bacteria is compromised or nonexistent, yeast infections can occur in the genital tract or other places such as the mouth (called thrush). (Source.)
Symptoms of yeast infections can include redness and pain in the vagina and labia, clumpy white discharge, itchiness, and pain during urination (source).
Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection of the vagina. It can cause symptoms such as itching, discharge, and a fishy odor (source). It occurs when good bacteria in the vagina are unable to keep the bad bacteria in check.
UTIs, on the other hand, are usually caused by an infection of E. coli bacteria. As I stated before, symptoms include pain during urination, a constant need to urinate, cloudy or bloody urine, and possibly fever and back/side pain.
So, What Did I Have?
My symptoms match best with a UTI in the beginning, and either a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis in the end. Since I never went to the hospital to run tests, I'm not sure what was responsible for what.
Thankfully, as is the case with many natural remedies, they are multi-purpose!
Coconut oil and oregano oil are anti-fungal as well as anti-bacterial (source and source). The probiotics in yogurt bolster good bacteria to help restore healthy levels of fungus and/or bad bacteria. This essential oil-soaked sea sponge recipe and this anti-fungal roll-on help kill fungal overgrowth as well.
Obviously, these remedies worked for me, whatever combination of infections I had!
Please note that UTIs, if left untreated or treated unsuccessfully, can lead to kidney damage and sepsis, among other complications (source). Use caution if attempting to heal naturally, and be willing to go to the doctor if necessary.
That said, I believe my infection(s) was much milder than it could have been. Perhaps this is because my body was relatively healthy already.
The interesting thing is how many different remedies I tried, in conjunction, to finally eradicate the bacteria and, possibly, yeast. Although initially I was discouraged by the persistence of the infection, I soon enjoyed the challenge of learning more about my body and what it needed — especially as I saw results.
Now, I still have to be diligent about keeping clean, staying hydrated, and eating well. This is true especially during my cycle, when there's inevitably more going on down there than normal.
This is hardly a problem, though. Shouldn't we all keep clean, stay hydrated, and eat well — regardless? 😉
Have you ever had a UTI, yeast infection, or bacterial vaginosis? Did you heal them naturally? Share your experience in the comments!
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You are responsible for your own health and for the use of any remedies, treatments, or medications you use at home.
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