Treat and Prevent UTIs Without Drugs

on September 22, 2016 by Chris Kresser

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 from Source Naturals 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 with your patients? Are there other methods that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. A urine culture just showed results of:

    Greater than 100,000 CFU/mL of Group B Streptococcus isolated

    I have had urinary frequency and urgency for about 18+ months, but I chalked it up to the aftermath of two pregnancies. I have never had any other symptoms. They of course, prescribed antibiotics right away but I do not want to take them. After reading this article, I began taking the Biofilm Defense as directed on the bottle. I have taken 6 daily doses so far.

    Should I just get a urine culture on my own every 3 weeks or so to see if the numbers are declining? How should I proceed to ensure this is in fact working? I’m a bit nervous doing all of this under no direction of a clinician, but I can’t just blindly follow their recommendations for antibiotics.

    I should note that I was GBS positive with both of my pregnancies and they suspect it was GBS that caused premature labor with my second.

    Thank you very much.

  2. Many of of are testing with Microgene and are finding infections. Treating and restesting is very important.

    Lily

    • Why not the use of antibiotics?
      I was treated with antibiotics for a UTI for 9 months.
      The end result was severe ( and possibly) irreversible nerve damage. Rare but known side effect of a drug called Nitrofurantoin used to treat E. coli. Nerve damage did disappear, as a neurologist told me it would – but it took 4 years.
      4 years of utter hell actually.
      That’s why I will do anything to avoid antibiotics if I can.
      Medics are far too eager to hand them out like sweets and our bodies are becoming resistant. We are never told about possible side effects.
      The UTI by the way was an enormous abscess in my bladder. Found by a private appt for a cystoscopy. If you have a recurring UTI – make an appt to see a urologist. Pronto.

      • Wow, I’ve been taking nitrofurantoin for a UTI and have had some nerve problems, thanks for the info. Just started taking the d-mannose and hope it helps me. I had no ideal there was a natural remedy and hate taking antibiotics. UTI’s have been frequent for two years, I think my IBS has something to do with it but if they continue I’m will go to a urologist like you suggested, if this d-mannose doesn’t help/

  3. Chris Kresser,

    Thank you for these recommendations. I have been taking antibiotics throughout the years from about 2008 – 2015. I know it has caused major damage to my body, so tried to use alternative options as much as possible. But I think the damage has ruined my urinary system.

    Right now I’m experiencing a constant uti that I’ve basically had for a little over a year that has lead me to outright depression. I’ve been researching about bio-films and I suspect I likely have a pretty serious bio-film in my urinary tract system and am hoping to find ways to dissolve them. I found your site and hope your recommendations might help my situation.

    Thanks,
    Naomi

    • I had UTI and kidney infections for 10 years and was on antibiotics during this time. Unfortunately, my PCP never sent me to a urologist. I sent myself.
      I had a diverticula in my urethra, which required scoping a few times a year then surgery. Since the surgery, zero infections for the past 11 years.
      Get seen by a urologist and asked to be worked up. What I had was rare but it was there.

  4. Hi
    Does anyone know whether D-mannose works for fungal infections like candidiasis too or is it only effective against bacterial infections?

    • D-mannose is not a treatment for fungal infections. Some effective natural ways to fight Candida/yeast include the probiotoc lactobacillus rhamnosus (which can be found in supplement products such as FemDophilus and RepHresh pro B,) extra virgin coconut oil, and lemongrass essential oil (diluted and applied topically.)

  5. D-mannose is the best!!! Works for everyone I have recommended it to. Learned about this years ago. No doctor ever told me…..

  6. In your article, natto is contraindicated for people on blood thinners due to its ability to break down the fibrin protein of biofilms. As I read it, it seems that Biofilm Defense and InterFase Plus do the same, but there is no such warning with them. Is there a difference? Can you please clarify. Many thanks.

  7. Just ordered d-mannose and hope it works. I’ve taken so many antibiotics over the years and really hope after trying d-mannose, I won’t every need another antibiotic.

    • 8 days ago all familiar symptoms of a UTI -went ahead and started the D-mannose and Uva Ursi plus water, water and more water. Symptoms started to dissipate somewhat after 5 days, so I assumed I was on the right track. Night 7 came back with full strength, made appointment to see my obgyn the next morning was trying my best to stay away from antibiotics. Urine sample showed no white blood cells BUT a lot or red blood cells and will not get the known bacteria causing agent for another 3 days so what did I do? I played it safe and started an antibiotic. Hopefully I can try to keep this under control and heal. I am very interested in the biofilm though have not tried it and would love to know if this is a preventative? I tried to stay away from the antibiotics as much as possible but I did not want to risk.

  8. Hi,

    I’m interested in taking the biofilm distruptors as I have been dealing with chronic utis’. However, I am unsure of which to try from the ones you have recommended. I’ve been told mine are related to a strain of strep, so the Lauracidin sounds like a good one, but should I pair some of the other ones with it?

  9. I have taken so many antibiotics for uti. Developed colitis. Recurring utl after completing antibiotics. Can D mannose be taken with InterFace plus or one of the other biofilms?

    • I take both on a regular basis. I ran out of Interfase plus for a week and was only taking D-Mannose and shortly after got another UTI. I’m going on week 3 now… I have to take both together to really prevent them. It kept me UTI free for about 3 months.

    • I have been taking Kirkman’s Biofilm defense for 2 weeks with Laurcidin. I have tested for Staph Aureus.
      I am starting to notice a lot of puss in my urine as I clean catch every void. I am unaware if this is the products working or the infection getting worse? I have searched the internet to find the answer to this question. No burning, no urgency to urine, no flank pain nor any other symptoms so in my attempt to stay positive I am hoping I am excreting biofilm.
      Can anyone shed some light here please.

  10. I am having recurrent urinary tract infections of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. My doctor thinks my urinary tract is “colonized” with this bacteria. I am trying to eliminate the Pseudomonas aeruginosa from my urinary tract, or at least keep it in control so that it doesn’t flare from the “colonized” state to the “infected” state. Currently I am taking Kirkman Biofilm Defense, one capsule per day. Should I increase this to two capsules per day? What other supplements are effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa? I have heard that D-Mannose is NOT effective against Pseudomanas aeruginosa. Is this true?

  11. Like my grandmother, I have interstitial cystitis. Bladder lining reacts to all acidic foods, carbonated drinks, all things I once loved. No cure. For 23 yrs, I have followed strict diet, but have been treated dozens of times with antibiotics. Bactrim nearly killed me. I now have adverse effects to ALL antibiotics. My urologist recommended D-Mannose and cranberries. But cranberries are too acidic. Will have to take cranberry supplements. Going to try some of the other suggested alternatives. Had an acute UTI last Nov. Was in hosp for a week, on IV antibiotic that killed ALL bacteria. Took me months to be able to eat and digest foods without any good bacteria left.

    • Dear Sharon,
      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this! I feel for you, having had horrible urinary tract issues myself that antibiotics just exacerbated. I am now very resistant to over 12 different kinds of antibiotics.
      I want you to know there is hope. IC is curable. The medical community doesn’t recognize this because they don’t look at the body as a whole, just each part.
      Some sources that have been a huge help in my healing have been Montreal Healthy Girl. Either the website or she puts wonderful educational videos on you tube. Highly educated naturpath and holistic healer who healed herself of her chronic IC and other very debilitating diseases.
      I’ve also used Pantrypharmacy (.) com for UTI flatter ups that have helped me.
      It is possible! Take care and good luck!

  12. So how should these be taken, the disruptors and d-mannose? In conjunction with each other or individually in phases? Can these be taken in conjunction with a probiotic? I wad told to take my probiotic on an empty stomach when I wake. I’m worried about one supplement canceling out or lessening the effects of the other. Any suggestions / directions would be appreciated. Thanks!

  13. I had IC from 2012 until 2017. Tested with MicroGendx.com and found HAIs.
    5 of them. Treated with d mannose and guided antibotic treatments. I chose to cath antibotic for the first two rounds. I also continued IC medication and Instills. This process took a year. Balancing the yeast is very important. However, finally after the fifth test all was clear.

    I sought the care of a woman specialist, primary care, and an infectious disease doctor. Prior to IC treatments I had an colon check and found microscopic colitis. He was young and he treated me and now no problem after 10 years of colitis. Obviously, I had the wrong Gastrointestinal Doc.

    I truly feel I was headed toward septic. I was so ill. Bed ridden, or sofa ridden. I hope in the future we can push hard enough to have MicroGen testing a protocol of bladder diseases. These hidden infections stole 6 years of my life.

    Lily

  14. I have reocurring Uti. I want to have a life. I have many things to do. Uti’s rob me of all my time.
    I wanted to print all this article. I don’t know what junk it printed. I have a good doctor who would work with me on using the meds you talked about. Can you email this article about what to do to clear up uti when it’s not e. coli. Is there a chance of getting off daily maintance antibiotic. Un sure how much D-MONNOSE to take if I ever don’t have a uti. When to try not taking daily antibiotic. I’m 75. This has been going on 47 years. Now last month almost everyday. A lot since feb. thanks for any info you can send me.

  15. I have had a UTI since January (enterococcus faecalis). I have taken antibiotics over and over, and several days later, symptoms return. After I gave up on my Urologist, I saw a Germ buster MD, and he said he did not have anything more he could do. We tried a variety of antibiotics, with no better results.
    In desperation, I started researching on my own. I found a supplement Uribiotic Formula by Full of Health (website). It worked to keep me asymptomatic, which I am grateful for, but when I stop taking it , symptoms return. This led me to further research, finding biofilms as the cause for chronic UTI’s.(Dr Scott website). So I assumed this was my problem. I started taking Interfase Plus enzyme supplement. I took it for two weeks 3-4 doses a day. I continued to take my Uribiotic supplement as well, and all of the sudden, I had sever UTI symptoms ( I was hoping it was the biofilm breaking up). After four days of intermittent severe pain, I got scared and started taking Cipro. I took it for 5 days along with the Uribiotics (not sure if I should, but I did). After the 5 days of Cipro, I felt some better, but not completely. I have continued to take the Uribiotics ( now 2 days later, and I still have pain with urination, but it goes away. I am not back to normal, but I can function. I wish there was some instruction to the Biofilm disruptors, as I have no idea if I did it right, and if it did cause my severe symptoms, and what to do next. I am praying my supplement will get me back to normal.
    Kelle

  16. I have been battling reoccuring UTI’s for about 15 years – the last 3 years have been especially awful, causing kidney infections. I discovered this page a few months ago after 2 rounds of strong antibitotics for 10 days each. I then started taking Interfase Plus and D-mannose everyday a 2-3 times a day and I felt healed!! It was amazing!
    I got busy and accidentally let my Interfase Plus run out and had to wait a week for a new bottle. I got another UTI. It’s been 3 weeks now, I tried only taking Interfase Plus and D-mannose but it didn’t kick the infection. I finally took a low dose of antibiotics for a few days as well hoping that would clear it up. It slowly has gotten worse. A doctor prescribed me a completely different antibiotic after I explained what I had taken I was probably resistant to. He then got the culture back and switched the antibiotic BACK to what I had originally taken 2 rounds of a few months ago. I have been on this antibiotic for a few days and I’m still taking Interfase plus and D-mannose – Does it matter if I take these AND antibiotics? I am at a loss here and have no idea what to do. I feel hopeless. Going to a new doctor tomorrow. Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  17. I’d like to know what amongst your recommended supplements above can help take out persistent k pneumoniae causing recurrent uti. I am currently suffering from this and growing resistance to antibiotics increasingly. I am now only sensitive to colistin. Please advise.

  18. Help!

    Breastfeeding momma, 2 rounds of Antibiotics and started D mannose about 2 1/2 days ago. My back pain is gone, but this is nuts y’all. I’ve been researching alll kinds of stuff.
    I’m taking extra Vitamin C (2,000mg), D-mannose every 2 hours, Special Probiotics for UTIs… this thing will be the death of me.

    Reading these comments make me feel normal. Just wanted to throw my struggle on the table. 😩

  19. I have been suffering with UTI and the symptoms for years. Back in 2000 it was discovered that I was born with a faulty urinary system and this in effect had damaged my kidney and in turn causing symptoms of Cystitis but with no infection. However, recently I am frequent (monthly) with UTI especially during or just after a period and an added irritant is sex. I was on antibiotics and hate them anyway and I didn’t want to go down the road of being reliant on them, so after research I came across D-Mannose and I must say it works! I have been using it for 2 months now when I feel the onset of “stinging” and each time within 48hrs it all settles down. I find that taking 2 tablets every 3 hrs up to 6 times a day is the most effective dosage for me. I am using the 1000mg tables from Power Health and it costs about £15 for a 30 tablet bottle (Holland & Barrett). I am also looking into the Lactoferrin tablets. Can someone please confirm if these can be take with D-Mannose or are they a stand alone treatment.
    Cheers
    Leah

  20. I’m a partner at a small supplement production facility and while it may seem that I’m going to promote our product, I truly just want to offer support to those looking for relief as we’ve done extensive research on UTI management. Our dedication to this particular infection is largely because one of our partners at this facility is a quadriplegic, a result of a spinal cord injury from over 30 years ago… Mary’s been a victim of reoccurring UTI’s for many years so we realize through her anguish how impactful these interruptions of life can be. We formulated a product, “Bladder Health”, based on the most credible research and have just recently made it available on our website. Mary has experienced incredible results from using this product and we all hope it will provide similar results to others in need. The primary ingredients include D-Mannose (attracts harmful bacteria allowing to be removed from the system), Cranberry Fruit Powder (aids in preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder lining), Turmeric Curcumin (powerful natural anti-inflammatory), and Vitamin C (antioxidant that aids in preventing UTI’s) , each with key roles in removing harmful bacteria and to aid in the support of the digestive and immune systems to fight infection naturally. Whether it’s our product or someone else’s, these ingredients are very credible and supportive to UTI management… We do happen to go a couple of steps further as we use non-GMO Vegetarian capsules and absolutely no flow agents, binders, fillers, or additives of any kind (we actually utilize a handcrafted process which eliminates the need for additives typically used in the overwhelming majority of machine made supplements available throughout the market place, but that’s a whole ‘nother story, don’t get me going on that right now). As with any supplements, you should always consult your healthcare provider regarding the use or recommendations for use. Each individual has unique medical and metabolic conditions and answers are not a one size fits all formula. I hope this may resonate and help in some way.

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