UTIs are one of Mother Nature’s torture devices. It’s bad enough you’re running to the potty every 15 minutes. Was it necessary to add the feeling of a hot poker being jammed inside your urine hole?
I think not.
This cruel “being” then decided that the treatment (antibiotics) requires permission from a licensed medical professional. And isn’t it oh so easy to see a doctor these days?
- Long wait times
- High insurance deductibles
- Rude staff
- Exposure to “bat soup virus” (COVID-19)
By the time you receive antibiotics the inferno in your bladder is raging and so is your frustration level. Within a day or two you’re feeling better. Relief is in sight. Then . . . a yeast infection from the antibiotics . . . @*$%!
There has got to be a better way. Right? You turn to Dr. Google and search for “how to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics.” Which has led us to this moment.
Before we get too excited let’s see if there’s any scientific proof to back the internet chatter on getting rid of a UTI without antibiotics. Let’s get you some advice from a real expert. A board-certified urologist with VirtuCare.
It’s a fascinating question. What if you simply let nature take its course and don’t do anything special to get rid of a UTI?
A review study demonstrated that 25 – 42% of women got rid of their UTI without antibiotics by simply taking a sugar pill. Now in comparison, women who took antibiotics were 5x more likely to rid their UTI. So no arguments about the effectiveness of antibiotics.
But why did the sugar pill work? A placebo effect is traditionally seen in up to 40% of patients across many drug trials. The power of positive thinking and believing something can work has a strong effect on your body’s physiology. Mom and dad were right when they said “believe in yourself.”
It’s also possible that women who thought they were taking an antibiotic got rid of their UTI because their behaviors changed. Maybe they started drinking more water and the frequent urination “flushed out” the bacteria.
Regardless, rolling the dice with the strength of your body’s immune system to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics can work.
Will doing nothing but Jedi mind tricks help you get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
Verdict: It may (25-42% chance) but strap in for some pain while you’re thinking positive thoughts.
Speaking of “flushing out” bacteria, is there any evidence to suggest that increasing water intake will get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
The short answer is “no”. We don’t have any evidence. Why not?
Can you imagine trying to design a study to answer the question “does drinking more water get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?” You’d have to approach women with raging bladder infections and convince them to:
- Drink a specific amount of water to the ounce
- Measure their urine output to the ounce
- Not take antibiotics
Yeah, not happening. This study won’t ever be completed. So instead let’s use some common sense to answer this question.
If UTIs are caused by bacteria in the bladder then drinking more water should help. You’ll urinate more frequently and flush out the bacteria from the bladder. As an alternative to not drinking much water, hydration makes sense to help you get rid of a UTI without antibiotics.
Some caveats to this theory.
As the Chronic Urinary Tract Infection Campaign in the UK points out, bacteria may be embedded in the wall of the bladder. All the water in the world won’t get rid of these buggers. They have set up shop underneath the bladder surface.
Additionally, our UK comrades smartly point out that urinating MORE is the last thing you want to do when you have an active UTI. Because it hurts!
Finally, if you do decide to take antibiotics they may be less effective if you’re drinking a gallon of water. Some antibiotics are filtered into the urine. If you’re drinking a lot of water you will potentially dilute the concentration of the antibiotic.
Will drinking a lot of water help you get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
Verdict: It makes sense but we have no proof. Plus more tee tee equals more pain.
Cranberry Juice and Extracts
Who hasn’t been told to “drink cranberry juice” to treat a UTI? It’s probably the most common and poorly understood home remedies to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics. So how do we separate false claims from facts?
Science. That pesky little tool we turn to when Facebook group discussions get really heated. Now not all science is the same.
The most powerful scientific tool is a randomized controlled trial. This is the fancy doctor term for taking two groups of patients and randomly assigning them to a placebo (control) or a treatment. Then let the results speak for themselves.
A 2021 review paper of existing randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of cranberry consumption revealed that cranberry juice has no known benefit, but cranberry extracts may help get rid of a UTI without antibiotics.
If cranberry juices helps then it’s probably a combination of the placebo effect (you want it to work) and hydrating (see above). The reasons why cranberry juice is not a great choice?
- It has sugar. Bacteria LOVE sugar.
- It is acidic. Bladders HATE acid.
- It does not have enough of the anti-UTI compounds (polyphenols) that are in cranberries.
This is probably why high quality cranberry extracts show more promise in getting rid of a UTI without antibiotics. One great option is from Utiva Health, which loads its supplements with PACs. PACs are the compounds in cranberries which flush out bacteria and keep your bladder healthy.
Will consuming cranberry juice or extracts help you get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
Verdict: Cranberry extracts possibly yes. Cranberry juice no. Sorry Ocean Spray.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen are effective pain relievers. Whether you have a backache or headache, popping a NSAID can help. But what about treating UTI symptoms?
A randomized controlled trial of almost 500 women compared ibuprofen to fosfomycin (an antibiotic) for treatment of uncomplicated bladder infections. Although ⅔ of the women in the ibuprofen group got rid of a UTI without antibiotics, they also suffered with more symptoms, and some developed kidney infections.
I can’t recommend suffering with worse symptoms or letting things progress to a kidney infection, but if you’re looking for some immediate relief then taking ibuprofen as directed may help.
(Do not take ibuprofen or NSAIDS if you have had a previous allergic reaction, peptic ulcer disease or kidney disease. Always check with a trusted medical professional before starting any new medication).
Will taking NSAIDS help you get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
Verdict: Yes. If you’re willing to risk a kidney infection and more pain then go for it.
Canephron® N (BNO 1045)
Canephron® N (BNO 1045) is a herbal concoction of lovage, rosemary and other foodie herbs that is being produced out of Germany (doesn’t sound like their style but just go with it). It’s currently available in 28 countries and like everything, you can buy it on eBay.
In several lab studies it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic (stop spasms) and anti-adherence (don’t let bacteria stick to bladder) properties.
The real promise lies in a randomized controlled trial (there I go with that science again) out of . . . you guessed it Germany. They randomized over 600 women with uncomplicated UTIs to receive either Canephron® N (BNO 1045) or an antibiotic. Next they re-evaluated the groups at about 5 weeks.
In women who received Canephron® N (BNO 1045), only 16.5% received antibiotics compared to 10.2% in the antibiotic group who required additional antibiotics. Put another way, Canephron® N (BNO 1045) got rid of a UTI without antibiotics 83.5% of the time. Pretty impressive!
There’s even better news because Canephron® N (BNO 1045) causes less GI upset than antibiotics and is considered safe during pregnancy
Will taking the Canephron® N (BNO 1045) help you get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
Verdict: Darn right it will. You can also braise your chicken with it (that’s a joke if you weren’t paying attention to the fact it’s made of herbs. I don’t recommend cooking with medication).
Should you try to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics?
As you can see there are options to get rid of a UTI without antibiotics. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Antibiotics are still the gold standard for treating UTIs.
That being said, we understand your pain. Getting antibiotics can be challenging. Our U.S. healthcare system seems built to keep patients from receiving appropriate care.
VirtuCare was created because we wanted something better than the current ways of delivering healthcare. As physicians we also recognize the pain of:
- Rising insurance and drug costs
- Lack of cost transparency
- Unsafe office environments during COVID-19
- Rude staff and colleagues
- Lack of access to medical specialists
With a VirtuCare telemedicine visit, you can meet with a board-certified urologist today and receive appropriate antibiotic therapy for your UTI. If you prefer an “au naturale” approach then we can answer any questions you may have after reading this article. Whatever you need, we are here for you.
Speaking of help, you’re probably wondering what to do with all of that cranberry juice in your fridge. Our vote . . . make some cosmos and re-watch Sex And The City.