Herbs can work to resist and heal UTIs in many ways and can be taken in many forms. Here are those most commonly recommended by experts. As always, consult a health care practitioner before using any herbs, especially if you're pregnant or suffering from a disease, such as diabetes.
Uva Ursi(Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi) Eighty percent of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria, and uva ursi acts as a potent urinary antiseptic to battle the organism. Sometimes called bearberry, uva ursi also acts as a diuretic and helps to cleanse the urinary tract. However, experts warn that uva ursi can be harsh and should not be used for more than one to two weeks. In high doses, the herb can cause nausea and irritate the kidneys. To prepare a tea, add two teaspoons of the dried herb to one cup of cold water; bring to a boil and let stand for two minutes before straining, allowing it to cool a bit before drinking. This may be repeated once or twice daily for up to a week. As an alternative, take one-half teaspoon of liquid extract or two capsules three times a day.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis Candensis) Another antimicrobial that may be effective in fighting E. coli, goldenseal also has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that help to soothe inflamed mucous membranes. For some, goldenseal has a bitter taste and smell, so tea may not be your preferred choice. Instead, try three to four droppersful of a standardized tincture four times daily until the symptoms have been gone for 24 hours, or take two to three capsules three times a day for up to one week.
Marshmallow (Althea Officinalis) Experts praise this soothing herb that cleanses the bladder and acts as a gentle diuretic. It also acidifies the urine, inhibiting bacterial growth. Marshmallow has a pleasant, sweet flavor. To make a tea, simmer one teaspoon of chopped dried root in one cup of boiling water for five minutes. Remove from heat and steep 10 minutes. Strain, and drink three to four cups throughout the day.
Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) Besides soothing mucous membranes, yarrow also clears congestion by acting as a diuretic. Take two to four milliliters of a standardized tincture three times a day in water. Or make a tea with one to two teaspoons of dried herb. Steep in just-boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain, and drink three cups or more a day.
Cornsilk (Zea Mays), Nettle (Urtica Dioica), Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum Officinale), and Parsley (Petroselinum Crispum) These herbs are all known for their ability to increase urine flow gently and flush out the kidneys. Make a tea by pouring one cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried herb (singularly or in combination). Steep for 10 to 15 minutes, strain, and drink three to four cups daily.
Juniper (Juniperus spp.) and Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) Sitz baths may be recommended if there is swelling or burning of the urethral opening. Juniper and tea tree oils each have diuretic properties while also acting as antiseptics. Fill a bathtub with hot water to your hips. Add two cups Epsom salts and one cup baking soda while tub is filling. Add a few drops of essential oils (for example, six drops of tea tree or two drops of juniper), then soak for 20 minutes.