Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a giant pain in the front bottom.
If you have ever had one, then I’ll already know you’ll do anything to avoid a repeat episode. Yet another round of antibiotics? Hey, if it’s necessary.
Here’s the thing: it isn’t.
Since I discovered D-mannose and used it to get rid of cystitis (a common type of UTI, and the one I focus on in this post) within 48 hours, I find it super frustrating that its existence as a natural remedy for bladder infections isn’t common knowledge. Compounding matters, once you have had cystitis, you might be more susceptible to getting it again – meaning multiple courses of antibiotics per year. You already know why this is seriously bad news.
D-mannose, a supplement made from the sugar compound found in cranberries, peaches
That’s all you need to know, but if you are interested in the whys and hows – then read on!
WTF is cystitis?
UTIs, infections of the urinary tract, are the second most common type of infection in the body. Cystitis is a fairly common lower urinary tract infection, which affects people of both sexes and all ages.
Us women are especially prone to UTIs for anatomical reasons – our urethras are shorter, allowing bacteria quicker access to the bladder.
Infections happen for a variety of reasons including less-than-optimal hygiene during sex, impaired immune function, the overuse of antibiotics and the use of spermicides.
The most common cause, accounting for a whopping 90% of cases, is the transfer of E.coli bacteria from the intestinal tract to the urinary tract. In other words, bacteria that live in the bowel (germs from your bum) getting into your urinary system.
How it feels to have cystitis
If you have ever had one – then you know.
If you have never had one and suspect you might, the three main symptoms are:
- Cloudy, sometimes dark urine. The cloudiness is the build up of bacteria.
- A burning or painful sensation when you urinate. Yes, it hurts like a bitch.
- An increased need to urinate that doesn’t correlate with an increased fluid intake.
If infections go untreated, they can cause pelvic pain (even when not urinating). If bacteria are exceptionally concentrated, or there are white blood cells or pus mixed in, your urine can also give off an odor.
There is also a chance that the bacteria can travel further along the urinary tract and infect the kidneys. This can result in a condition called pyelonephritis, resulting in permanent damage to your kidneys.
Problems with the standard treatment
Four words: over-prescription and antibiotics.
The giant problem with treatment for UTIs is that doctors typically prescribe antibiotics, with the type depending on the bacteria found in your urine (you usually do a pee test). Sometimes symptoms don’t go away after the first round of antibiotics, and you need to try a different kind. Big sad face.
This isn’t just totally unnecessary – it is harmful, as it kills beneficial bacteria that prevent pathogenic bacteria from growing. Further, the long term use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like E. coli developing in the gut. In the long run this will mean a UTI caused by these bacteria will be even more challenging to eliminate.
Cracking out the cranberry juice? Hold up…
If you have suffered repeated bouts of cystitis, then chances are you would have already explored natural remedies for bladder infections. And so you will have heard about, or told to drink, cranberry juice.
Cranberry juice has long been thought to help support your urinary tract health. And studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice can help support a healthy urinary tract.
But more recent studies have shown that cranberry juice drinkers had a greater recurrence of cystitis and UTIs!
Anecdotally, I can tell you that I have tried to send my cystitis packing by using cranberry juice and, well, it didn’t happen.
Another issue with the ‘cranberry solution’ is that, as with all other juices, cranberry juice is loaded with fructose, a monosaccharide (simple sugar) that can potentially cause many health problems – including impacting the normal way your urinary tract functions. When we eat sugar and grain (which also rapidly break down to sugars), it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy balance of flora. As a result, we are much more likely to experience less-than-optimal urinary tract health.
So cranberry juice really is a thoroughly ineffective solution to cystitis.
An effective natural remedy for your bladder infection
In simple terms, D-mannose works by sticking to the E. coli proteins to a greater degree than the E. coli can stick to our human cells.
The simple sugar in D-mannose is not metabolized. When we ingest a large quantity, almost all of it spills into the urine via our kidneys and coats the E. coli so it can no longer adhere to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract. At this point, they can be rinsed away through urination.
Symptoms can completely disappear within 48 hours of taking the supplement. It really is miraculous.
Hit me up with the science
As yet, there is no peer reviewed research to support the effectiveness of D-mannose in treating or preventing UTIs. There have been randomized clinical trials proving its efficacy.
In a study of more than 300 women with a history of recurrent UTIs, researchers treated the women with either two grams of D-mannose, 50 milligrams of an antibiotic, or no treatment daily for six months.
15 percent of those taking the D-mannose had a recurrent UTI compared to 20 percent for the antibiotic group (both of which were significantly lower than the no-treatment group).
Research indicates that D-mannose can be used preventatively as well as after-the-event. That means that if you are particularly prone to UTIs, such as prior to intercourse or during prolonged antibiotic treatment, D-mannose can help prevent a UTI from ever developing in the first place.
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. I have found that it is good to continue taking the supplement even after symptoms have diminished to ensure complete elimination of the bacteria in the urinary tract. I have found that when I have stopped taking D-mannose after 48 hours, the symptoms aren’t completely gone.
For prevention of sex cystitis, try taking 1 tablespoon of powder one hour prior to sex and another tablespoon immediately afterward.
Can you OD on it?
Like many natural substances, D-mannose does not cause any adverse side effects. Because it cannot be metabolized the way other sugars can, the supplement is safe for diabetics and others who are avoiding sugar for any reason. This treatment is also safe for children and the elderly.
Does it work for interstitial cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis, often called painful bladder syndrome, is a super challenging condition to deal with. If you have urinary pain that lasts for more than 6 weeks and is not caused by other conditions like infection or kidney stones, you may have IC.
It’s tough to diagnose, and though treatments can make life with it better, there’s no cure. As you can imagine, the disease can affect a person’s work and social life, exercise and sleep. Because IC has such a wide range of symptoms and severity, most experts think it might be several diseases.
Despite this, you can still arm yourself with facts and treatments to keep symptoms in check.
This is not something I have experience with first hand, but anecdotal evidence suggests that D-mannose can be used to help intestinal cystitis too. It is in my opinion, definitely something to explore.
Guidelines for cystitis avoidance
If you’ll excuse the Captain Obvious nature of some of the suggestions, here are five things you can do to help avoid bouts of cystitis:
- Stay properly hydrated at all times – this dilutes urine and helps you regularly flush your system.
- Urinate when you need to – don’t hold it in!
- Always wipe from front to back.
- When having sex, be super clean – prior to sex and afterwards. Don’t mix things up too much…if you know what I mean.
- Pee before and after sex to help flush any bacteria out of your system.
Other natural remedies for bladder infections
This article from Health Digezt details some other methods you can try. I have used baking soda and water (in conjunction with D-mannose) to decrease pain when peeing until cystitis symptoms disappear completely.
I have used these products (affiliates) myself – they work. Other good brands (non-affiliates) are Nature Supplies (a UK brand) and Joseph Mercola’s own supplement.
Now Foods D-mannose Powder, 3-Ounce, Now Foods
Do you have experience with other natural remedies for bladder infections? Get in touch in the comments below!