Treat and Prevent UTIs without Drugs | Chris Kresser
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Treat and Prevent UTIs without Drugs

by Chris Kresser

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Urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are infections anywhere along the urinary tract including the bladder and kidneys, are the second most common type of infection in the United States. (1) These infections can be caused by poor hygiene, impaired immune function, the overuse of antibiotics, the use of spermicides, and sexual intercourse. The most common cause, accounting for about 90 percent of all cases, is the transfer of E. coli bacteria from the intestinal tract to the urinary tract.

For those of you who have experienced a UTI, there isn’t much you wouldn’t do to avoid another one. While I personally have never had a UTI, my patients have told me how the pain, burning, nausea, and even bloody urine can be debilitating, and for those who get chronic UTIs, the fear of infection can be enough to prevent engagement in any activities that could trigger one. And for those who get them frequently, sometimes a specific cause cannot even be pinpointed. This can be frustrating and scary.

Fortunately, there are a few methods of natural treatment and prevention that have worked extremely well for my patients, to the point where they no longer worry about getting a UTI.

These treatments don’t require a prescription, are inexpensive, and completely drug-free. While your doctor may not know about them, I hope this article will help you completely avoid UTIs – or at least significantly reduce their frequency and severity.

Standard Treatment

Doctors typically use antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections, and the type and duration depend on your health condition and the type of bacterium found in your urine. (2) Commonly prescribed antibiotics are Bactrim, Amoxicillin, Ampicilin, and Cipro. These antibiotics are often unnecessary and may cause more problems in the future by destroying the beneficial bacteria that prevents pathogenic bacteria from growing. Long term use of antibiotics can also lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like E. coli developing in the gut, and a UTI caused by these bacteria will be even more challenging to eliminate and can cause more serious infections like a bladder or kidney infection.

Furthermore, antibiotics do very little to prevent the infection from happening in the first place. So while drugs may be an easy fix for the short term, in the long run you will continue to be susceptible to UTIs, and these infections may be worse than if you had never taken a course of antibiotics in the first place!

Natural Treatment and Prevention

D-Mannose

D-Mannose is by far the most effective supplement for both treatment and prevention of UTIs. Similar to glucose in structure, D-mannose is a naturally occurring sugar that is found in a number of fruits, including apples, blueberries, and cranberries. (3) This sugar is the reason that cranberry juice has been commonly recommended as a UTI treatment, though it is far easier to get the recommended dosage from a supplement. D-mannose is effective because it attaches to E. coli bacteria, causing them to stick to each other and preventing them from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. (4) The bacteria can then easily be eliminated from the body during urination.

D-mannose, even in large quantities, does not cause any adverse side effects, and cannot be metabolized the way other sugars can, meaning this supplement is safe for diabetics and others who are avoiding sugar for any reason. This treatment is also safe for children and the elderly.

Symptom relief can be seen as quickly as the following day, and most symptoms are generally resolved after 48 hours of treatment. Additionally, taking D-mannose during a time where you feel you are most prone to UTIs, such as prior to intercourse or during prolonged antibiotic treatment, can help prevent a UTI from ever developing in the first place. This is especially helpful for those who are prone to chronic UTIs and want to be able to engage in normal life activities without fear of infection.

The typical dose of D-mannose for UTI treatment is 500 mg, in capsule or powder form, taken in a glass of water or juice every two to three hours for five days. (5) It is a good practice to continue taking the supplement even after symptoms have diminished to ensure complete elimination of the bacteria in the urinary tract. This dose can also be taken as a preventative, or prophylactic, method.

While there have not been any peer reviewed research to support the effectiveness of D-mannose in treating or preventing UTIs, clinical and anecdotal experience suggests it is highly effective for the majority of infections, both acute and chronic. Some of my patients who have used D-mannose as a UTI treatment method have even described its effects as “miraculous” – so it’s definitely worth a shot!

Alternative treatments for chronic UTIs

One caveat with D-mannose is that it is only effective with UTIs caused by E. coli infection. While this accounts for about 90% of cases, there are 10% that will not benefit from this treatment. In this case, supplements that help disrupt biofilms can be useful in treating and preventing UTIs.

Biofilms are an accumulation of microorganisms and their extracellular products forming structured communities attached to a surface such as the lining of the urogenital tract. (6) The development of a biofilm can make infections extremely hard to treat, since they commonly return shortly after treatment is stopped.

The antibacterial resistance of pathogenic biofilms is one of the major reasons why those who get a UTI are highly susceptible to getting more in the future – if the biofilm is not completely eliminated, the infection will eventually return at some point.

This is why the use of biofilm disruptors can be helpful for preventing the recurrence of chronic UTIs. (7) The biofilm disruptors that I recommend to my patients are InterFase Plus from Klaire Labs or Biofilm Defense from Kirkman. These contain specialized enzymes to disrupt the biofilm matrix embedding potential of pathogens, and dissolve the sugar and fibrin components of most pathogenic biofilms. By destroying the biofilms, the recurrence of UTIs despite proper hygiene can be reduced. (8)

Lauricidin is another supplement that may be helpful in treating UTIs, particularly those that are caused by bacteria other than E. coli. Lauricidin (a proprietary form of monolaurin) has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity, and is specific against pathogenic bacteria so it won’t disrupt beneficial bacteria in the gut. It is highly effective at combating gram positive bacteria in the families of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, Listeria, Bacillus, and Clostridium. (9) It works by disturbing the integrity of the bacterial cell membrane, blocking replication and making it easier for the immune system to destroy the pathogen. Lauricidin is only helpful, however, for UTIs not caused by E. coli, which is gram negative and has a different kind of outer cell membrane than gram positive bacteria.

Nattokinase is another enzyme that has been shown to dissolve biofilms. (10) Produced by the bacteria found in the fermented food natto, this enzyme is proteolytic and can help break down the fibrin proteins that maintain the structure of biofilms.

Because of its fibrin-breaking ability, it’s important that nattokinase supplements are not taken by people with bleeding disorders, or by people who are taking Coumadin (warfarin), aspirin, or any other drug that influences blood clotting, unless supervised by a physician.

Apolactoferrin (or lactoferrin) is one more supplement that I recommend to my patients with recurring UTIs. This multifunctional protein Lactoferrin is a component of the immune system with antimicrobial activity, and is part of the innate defense, mainly found in secretions and mucosal surfaces. (11) Lactoferrin has been shown to block pathogenic biofilm development by binding to iron and causing the bacteria to “wander” across surfaces instead of forming cell clusters and biofilms. (1213) One study found that the amount of E. coli bacteria in the kidneys and bladder of mice was significantly reduced 24 hours later by oral lactoferrin treatment, compared to a control group. (14) More research is necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of lactoferrin in treating UTIs, but I believe it is worth trying, especially if dealing with chronic UTIs.

Now I’d like to hear from you – have you tried using any of these treatments? Are there other methods that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. My 90 year old mother has had at least 8 UTI’s since January 2019. 2 of them were antibiotic resistant, Enterococos & Pseudomonas, which landed her in the hospital on 2 separate occasions. On the 1st hospital stay the antibiotic Cefepime damaged her tendons on the left leg leaving her without the ability to walk. On the other occasion, a different antibiotic took its toll on her kidneys but the bacteria did go away with both treatments.

    On the most current UTI when symptoms became apparent( evening of 5/21/19), she began hallucinating in the middle of the night. This time, not wanting to go the antibiotic route unless absolutely necessary, I decided to try colloidal silver. I’ve read that many women have had no luck with CS but decided to try a bio active form I picked up at the health food store. Within approx. 5 minutes of giving her about a teaspoon of colloidal silver orally, the hallucinations stopped and she has been resting comfortably. I don’t believe this is a coincidence. This morning I noticed that her urine was still cloudy but it’s only first day of treatment. Will continue the dosage of colloidal silver… 1 teaspoon 3 times a day. May up the dosage if symptoms persist. I will inform this message board of the progress or lack of regarding colloidal silver treatment.

  2. I’m a 27-year-old male who was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. My symptoms are urgency, frequency, urinary retention and painful inflammation of the bladder. I saw a new doctor recently who diagnosed me with bladder obstruction and gave me flomax to increase the urine stream. There hasn’t been a lot written about natural cures that healed men from their urinary symptoms. I’m wondering if the AIP diet or GAPS diet would improve or fully cure me of my symptoms? I’m asking because men have the prostate, bladder, and testosterone getting converted to DHT to consider. Thanks in advance.

  3. I also had chronic UTI’s and it got to the point where it felt like I was popping AZO tablets every hour just to get yet another antibiotic prescription from the doctor. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was and I’m sure a lot of you ladies can agree. A friend gave me Cystex Maintenance that I just sip on every morning and it’s been a great way to decrease my UTI frequencies. I’ve already seen a huge change in my system in general and my overall health is like night/day.

  4. Good day ,
    Would be very happy if anyone could help me with some advise.
    I have been suffering with chronic uti for over 40 years.
    Recently they started to give me diarreah.
    Would be grateful to receive some advise as to how to deal
    with the whole complicated problem.

    With thanks,

  5. Great article. I’m glad that you mentioned the proteolytic enzyme Nattokinase (from B. subtilis natto). I found research indicating that it fights Klebsiella, salmonella and H. Pylori. Another bacterial-sourced proteolytic enzyme, Serrapeptase, fights the dreaded STAPH. Amazing!

  6. Over 50 years I have suffered with one UTI after another. I used D-Mannose, four bottles at a time with no relief what so ever. As soon as I am off the antibiotics, kidney & bladder infection returns. Cranberry juice should never be used as it removes the lining from the bladder, giving you yet another long term debilitating disease. I have not had loving in over 12 years so it certainly is not my causes. I have had Botox in the bladder over ten times, only to get incontinence & had to give it up 4 years ago. Today I am suffering with kidney pain, shooting pain in the urethra and bladder. There is nothing I haven’t tried. This is now three weeks of constant agony and that’s after a visit to the ER. I have used yarrow, marshmallow tea, goldenseal, oregano, physic on the pelvic floor, I could go on forever but here I am with NO RELIEF! None. I was heading to the ER again this morning but the -30 weather has deterred me to suffer another day & I believe even the ER has no more answers. Some people are fortunate to get great health care, the rest not so much. I lost one kidney already and spent just under 4 months in the hospital. HELP! ANYONE!

    • I tried many things. Lemon water. Cranberry juice. Unsweetened. Bicarb pills. Bicarb water. Emspom salt bath. Coconut oil and tea tree oil on the vag. D mannose. And many more. Over the years ive managed to work out my triggers, not drinking enough to over drinking, constipation, long working days, sugar, caffine and carbonated drinks. However, since starting Optibac intimate flora probiotics things have drastically improved. Its been a while since my last uti. As long as i drink 3 or 4 glasses of water a day and dont binge on sugary food and dont have caffine too often im generally ok. I took them for about 6months. Best thing ive ever used for my utis as i was over prescribed antibiotics.

    • Judy, you need to address your diet and the candida in your system. One book I would recommend is The Candida cure cookbook by Ann Boroch, stick to it like your life depends on it because it does, also Dr. Richard Schutz has an incurables program you should start, which includes a kidney cleanse. Sugar and carbs are your enemy, you need to seriously alter your diet. There is no quick fix, it is a long journey but taking the steps to overhaul your diet can be life changing! Best of luck to you!

    • I’d find a doctor who will test for Schistosomiasis or Trichomoniasis (both are tiny parasites that can attack the bladder). A primary care doc or GYN can test for trichomonas, but a tropical disease specialist would be more likely to be willing to test for schisto. (Trichomonas is much more common in the US). Good luck!

    • I had a painful kidney infection, which is similar to a UTI. Steps I took to relieve it were
      a) 8 doses of CDS (which is a palpable form of MMS). You have to make it yourself. (See CancerProgram.Weebly.com–see tab on “immunity boosting” for instructions on how to make CDS. I used Protocol 115, which involves taking 8 doses in a two-hour period. Using the MMS-2 protocol in addition to using CDS can be helpful. This should knock it out in two days… in addition, it would be helpful to
      b) keep urine high alkaline, around 8.0 with sodium bicarbonate ( plus potassium bicarbonate if u can get it)
      c) high doses of iodine (Lugol’s Solution). I took about 50+ mg (not mcg) per day,
      d) Also use of colloidal silver

      That was the basic protocol. Had the infection for a few weeks, better in two days, gone after that. I kept the Protocol up for 2 more days just to be sure

  7. I’ve been dealing with a cycle of UTI’s , yeast infections and bacterial vaginitis for a couple months now. I’ll go to the doctor, get an antibiotic treat the infection and then the antibiotic or something else will give me another infection. Yesterday, I started drinking cranberry concentrate in diluted water as well as taking 2 jarrow femdophilius and 2 AZO pills (i think that’s the name). I’m desperate to figure out how to stop this cycle. In the past few months when I first started to get the infections, I became sexually active. Are my infections due to the condom or sexual intercourse? I’m wondering if what i’m doing now will get rid of my UTI? Or if I need to do more? Thanks.

    • It’s not your fault.
      This is what happens when antibiotics have destroyed your vaginal and intestinal flora. They kill off all but the hardiest pathogens, which then replicate and re-infect you.
      To stop the cycle you need to correct both biomes, and you’re already on the right track with Femdophilus.
      One of those can be applied vaginally at bedtime: you’ll see dead germs coming out the next day.
      Repeat until you get no colored discharge anymore, but be careful to place it high in there, and NEVER use yogurt, by the way.
      Lactobacillus splashed on the urethra can give you a Lactobacillus UTI.
      For the gut, an activated charcoal cleanse is the best way to go, followed by the probiotics to re-stock with good guys.
      Once you’ve sorted those out, no more problems unless your man needs a cleanse.
      There’s info on all this in the link in my name: and a FB support group for women who’re doing the same thing you are.

    • I could write your post myself. Been through this situation exactly. Try topical tea tree oil for the vaginitis. D Mannose for the UTI. Always have sex with a condom. I found condom-less sex would kick off yet another UTI. Good luck!!

  8. What should I use for entercoccal bacteria in my uti? I am on antibiotics and most of my symptoms are gone but still feeling some pain

  9. So I’ve found a totally natural cure for ecoli uti. I get a terrible uti within 24 hours of having sex. I have to get antibiotics every time – usually Keflex ( cephalexin) but having had really bad gerd flare ups in past suddenly I started getting really bad gerd symptoms on Keflex ( usually well tolerated with me ). So having great success in the past treating my gerd with natural remedies I went to the health food store and bought p’darco teabags on a whim as I’d read they were good for gerd ( they were out of stock of my usual gerd remedy ) and wow!!!! Totally cleared my uti in one week taking it three times a day!! So Saturday morning expecting another uti after sex I had three cups for one day only and it seems to be preventative too as not a flicker of a smell or urgency or pain. I feel I’ve got a new life! ( doesn’t do much for gerd though ). Also the health food shop had another female client in buying her favourite uti treatment which was a tincture called uva Ursu. I bought it too expecting to need it but p’darco unexpectedly did the trick.

  10. Hello, I’m suffering from a painful UTI as a result of lots of sexual activity while trying to conceive. I was prescribed macrobid by obgyn and told it was safe during pregnancy, but feel hesitant to take it since my previous history of recurring UTIs. I’ve read that D-Mannose affects sperm and possibly the egg from attaching. What treatment or protocol would you recommend for women with UTI while trying to conceive?
    Please help, thank you.

    • I am curious about this but after a quick search I can’t find anything about d-mannose preventing pregnancy. Can you send a link? Hope you are feeling better!

  11. Ureaplasma -got diagnosed at OBGYN when I went with Uti complains and pelvic pain. Urine dip test looked good but wasn’t cultured.Swab from Vigina culture showed the Ureaplazma. How do I get rid of this evil. Nurse called in for antibiotics but after destroying my health a few years ago with antibiotics still dealing with SIBO issues I can’t do antibiotics. I guess this evil is microbe or bacteria without a cell wall and lives inside of other cells. Has anybody had success of curing the Ureaplasma without antibiotics. Thanks. SL

  12. If I wanted to treat the biofilm, would I take a biolfilm distruptor AND d mannose (for the potential E. coli in the building) AND lauricidin (for the other 10%) at the same time? Thank you!

  13. If I wanted to treat the biofilm, would I take a biolfilm distruptor AND d mannose (for the potential E. coli in the building) AND lauricidin (for the other 10%) at the same time? Thank you!

    • Hey Everyone, all these posts have helped me a bunch. Just wanted to share what I found for my UTI.. Hibiscus Tea I use an organic brand and have a cup or two a day. It clears both e coli and staph from the walls of your bladder. It tastes great and helps your body in a lot of other ways; lowers bp, lowers cholesterol and is great for your skin. I haven’t had to take dmannose or use anything else since SO GREAT!

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