Naturally curing urinary tract infections

Sneak Attack

If you’ve suffered from it in the past, you know that the letters UTI can be three of the most painful in the English language.Just ask Delaney, a member who created an HSI Forum thread titled “Any natural cures for urinary tract infections?” She says, “I soooooo very much hate having to go to the doc and take an antibiotic. Is there another way?”

Good news, Delaney. There is another way. And it’s often very effective. But before we get into that, I have some new research to tell you about that may reveal the reason why UTIs can be so irritating and hard to get rid of.

Lying in wait


In a recent issue of the journal Science, researchers at the Washington University (WU) School of Medicine in St. Louis explain that when Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria invade the bladder, they penetrate a protective coating of the superficial cells that line the bladder. Once the E. coli is established in the bladder lining, the stage is set for infection.

The WU team used mice to study bladder reaction to inoculations of E. coli. They found that after the bacteria began multiplying in the bladder lining, they formed pod structures that were protected by the cell coating. As the pods developed, they created special fibers that held them firmly in place below the coating. This type of cell organization is called biofilm.
One of the authors of the study, Joseph J. Palermo, M.D., Ph. D., compared the pods beneath the coating to eggs protected by an egg carton.

The researchers found that after an infection was treated with antibiotics, pods that survived the treatment soon released bacteria to begin a new infection. Dr. Palermo and his colleagues believe that theirs’ is the first study to reveal disease-causing biofilms that proliferate inside cells. They also believe that this explains why many bladder infections are often followed by subsequent infections after an initial successful treatment.

Location, location, location

Clearly, we’re up against some very clever E. coli. So what to do?
In response to Delaney’s HSI Forum request for natural UTI treatments, several members offer methods that have worked for them. But among those treatments, one stands out. And a member named Les boils it down to a simple sentence: “D-mannose is the answer for UTI.” Les is absolutely on the right track.

Many women know that when the first signs of a bladder infection appear, a few quarts of cranberry juice can sometimes head the problem off at the pass. According to Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., the ingredient in cranberry juice that makes it effective is the bacteria-fighting sugar Les recommends: D-mannose.
In the Health eTips e-letter “Inside Out” (9/11/03), Amanda Ross (Managing Editor of Dr. Wright’s Nutrition & Healing newsletter) shared Dr. Wright’s explanation about how D-mannose works. She wrote, “D-mannose has the ability to detach E. coli from the walls of the bladder without upsetting the balance of the friendly bacteria necessary for good health. After being loosened from bladder walls, the bacteria are rinsed away by normal urination. The E. coli aren’t killed; they’re simply relocated – ‘from the inside to the outside’ – and the infection is gone.”

Cranberry without the cocktail


But before you run out to stock up on cranberry juice, you should know that Dr. Wright says there’s not really enough D-mannose in the juice to be significantly effective. And in her article, Amanda adds that the extra sugar that comes with most brands of cranberry juice just creates other unneeded problems.

Fortunately, D-mannose is available from compounding pharmacies and many natural food stores. Dr. Wright says that almost any bladder infection caused by E. coli can be eliminated with 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of D-mannose, dissolved in water and taken every 2 to 3 hours.
And there’s no need to worry about the sugar aspect of D-mannose; it’s a simple sugar, so very little of it is metabolized by the body. Large doses are washed away in the urine, and the amounts not excreted into the urine are so small that they do not affect blood sugar levels – even in diabetics.

And for a personal testimonial about the effectiveness of D-mannose we’ll go back to the HSI Forum thread where a member named Rosie shared this experience: “I finally decided to try the D-Mannose that Dr. Wright raves about for UTI’s. I took one half teaspoon a day, less than what the directions say to use. In two days the UTI was gone, but I continued the D-Mannose a few more days.”
Judging from the Washington University study, Rosie had the right idea to continue the treatment for a few days to continue fighting any remaining bacteria that the E. coli pods might try to reintroduce in the bladder.

On the Wright track


To find out more about Dr. Wright and his Nutrition & Healing newsletter, just go to where you can also sign up for Amanda Ross’ free Health e-Tips.


To Your Good Health,
Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute
“Intracellular Bacterial Biofilm-Like Pods in Urinary Tract Infections” Science 2003 301: 105-107, 7/4/03,
“Biofilms Inside Bladder Cells May Cause Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections” Office of Medical Public Affairs, Washington University School of Medicine, 7/1/03,