Oct 082007

My new favorite approach to acute UTIs is primarily based around Cranberries/Blueberries and Bee Balm (Monarda spp.) While I’ve messed with what seems like a thousand different variations on good UTI formulas including Uva Ursi/Manzanita, Horsetail, Yarrow, Echinacea, Cornsilk and so on, I’ve had inconsistent results. Recent experiences have given me very good results with this regimen, and I thought I’d share, since UTIs are so VERY unpleasant, as are the antibiotics regularly prescribed for them in mainstream medicine.

I use Cranberry because it’s easily available to most people in either juice, whole berry or concentrate capsules. Close relative Blueberry is great too and has a similar effect, but is less irritating to the gut. Leaves or berries can both be used successfully. I’ve even tinctured the berries and used that.

Cranberry/Blueberry helps adjust the PH of the urine, and also discourages the bacteria from clinging to the urinary tract, and also makes an excellent urinary tract tonic to prevent further episodes of infection. Use large doses at first to get symptoms under control then reduce down to a maintenance level.

The Bee Balm has an anti-inflammatory effect, assists in the elimination of the bacteria and (I believe) nourishes the mucus membranes, among other things (first learned this use from Matt Wood). I use a tincture made of fresh flowering tops of M. fistulosa var. menthaefolia, with a dosage of about 1/4 -1/3 dropperful every two hours until the symptoms lessen and then slowly reduce to three times a day, continue for about two-three days after symptoms have disappeared. This is the same dosage I use for treating yeast infections, and this will also help prevent the UTI from the growing into a vaginal infection.

This combination has given me the quickest results of all the variations I’ve tried and is also very simple. Endless adjustments are possible, I especially like Mallow/Nettle infusion, Silk Tassel tincture in small amounts for severe pain and bladder spasms, Alder or Echinacea if there’s an accompanying systemic infection or heat, Elderberry for immune support, Goldenrod if there’s kidney involvement and probiotics/fermented food to enhance the body’s bacterial balance. Skullcap can be very helpful when there’s great anxiety around the pain, and constant need to urinate, and can help provide sleep.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the need to rest, avoid sugar and drink lots of water during the recovery process. And, if your UTIs consistently occur after sex, be sure that you urinate directly afterwards (no, two hours later doesn’t count) and consider using Blueberry/Cranberry as a preventative.

Also, treatment for chronic long term UTIs where there’s boggy membranes requires a somewhat different treatment. Yerba Mansa can be nice here, or Bidens.

Being such a commonplace and untalked about condition, I talk to many women who actively repress symptoms and feel as if they have no right to express the often excruciating pain (I personally have had UTIs that hurt at least as much as giving birth, and certainly more than breaking a bone). Therapeutically, I find that voicing this pain can dramatically shorten recovery time. Whether this means screaming into your pillow, sobbing for an hour or shooting holes in a tin can is up to the individual, the important thing is to find a way to move the energy.