I’m embarrassed to admit this, but peeing is a pain.
I’m plagued by urinary tract infections (UTIs) and I hate the side effects of the Septra antibiotic that I take daily.
I’ve heard that drinking cranberry juice cocktail can help. Should I try that?
–B.K., New York City
Chronic UTIs are miserable. You’ve no sooner escorted one out the door, than a new infection rears its ugly itch.
It’s hard to believe that something delicious can help prevent such a painfully persistent disease, but cranberries DO get the job done.
Women – and it is mostly women- who experience the itching, burning and pain of recurrent UTIs are motivated to try just about anything to gain comfort and avoid sulfa antibiotics such as “Septra DS” or “Bactrim.”
Cranberry keeps bacteria from sticking to your bladder
Studies prove that UTI-causing bacteria adhere easily to the bladder and urinary tract of chronic sufferers. FYI, if you are prone, this could be a sign of diabetes. Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) actually helps prevent bacterial adhesion.
Researchers in Australia and Scotland recently reviewed the results of numerous scientific studies and gave cranberry a thumbs-up as a preventive treatment. I think they can help you, but you still may need your antibiotic for a while longer.
Please don’t destroy your gut with antibiotics. Protect yourself with a high-quality probiotic to replace the beneficial bacteria that gets killed off by your antibiotic.
There are many to choose from. I personally take “Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic” because it helps me grow my own “flora fingerprint,” rather than taking a gazillion organisms that may (or may not) be part of my personal gut microflora.
We are all individuals when it comes to gut bugs. Eat sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir to help restore probiotics with food.
Cranberry reduced E. coli bacteria 25% to 45%!
I read a study about cranberries that followed 60 women aged 18 to 40, over 90 days. The participants received either placebo, 500 to 1,000 mg of whole cranberry powder each day.
When their urine was cultured, there was a 25 – 45 percent reduction in E. coli bacteria after 10 days in the group that took cranberry, and this was maintained for weeks. The control group showed no improvement.
I’m not fond of “cocktails” because they contain sugar, which promotes infection. But drinking pure cranberry juice straight is a decidedly mouth-puckering experience. Try diluting it with sparkling water, or add 2 tablespoons of pure juice to your water bottle each day.
I think supplements are ideal because they contain concentrated amounts of the healing compounds (proanthocyanidins) which offer other health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, controlling weight, reducing H. pylori infections (ulcers) and even preventing gum disease.
D-Mannose is another cranberry-related supplement that is enormously helpful. You can find it online or in most health food stores.
More urinary tract infection tips
Here are a few more practical tips to help you avoid urinary tract infections in the future.
- avoid perfumed soaps,
- stay hydrated,
- always wipe from front to back
- wear breathable cotton underwear
Drinking stinging nettle tea during infections is important. And finally, an over the counter medicine called phenazopyridine (brand names are AZO Standard and Cystex) that’s sold at pharmacies nationwide can provide immediate pain relief.
Editor’s note: Did you know cranberries are native to North America? In fact, the Native American’s were the first to recognize the cranberry’s medicinal value. Originally called a “CRANEberry” by the Pilgrims, the “e” was lost along the way.
In addition to writing a syndicated column on health which reaches 20 million people each week, Suzy is the author of a number of books on natural health.
You may have seen Suzy on The Dr. OZ Show (6 different appearances), The View, The Doctors, Good Morning America Health and hundreds of morning shows. Quotes from Suzy, as well as her articles, have also appeared in major publications including Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, OK Magazine!, First for Women, Fitness, Natural Health and Better Homes & Garden and dozens more.
Read more from Suzy at suzyCohen.com
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