Urinary tract infections, including cystitis, are very common infections, especially in women. It is estimated that one in two women will experience an infection of this type at least once in her life. Treatment is usually antibiotic, however, the ever-increasing resistance to cures of bacterial strains and the side effects of these medicines are pushing scientists to look for natural remedies to complement the medicines, or replace them in milder cases. Not only that, diet and some precautions can also help prevent recurring episodes of urinary tract infections, but let's try to understand better based on scientific research.
Recurrent cystitis, remedies
Cranberry is a widely used remedy for recurrent cystitis. Cranberries can easily be found frozen or in juice form. These small acidic fruits show antibacterial and antioxidant properties, thanks to the substances they contain such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, catechins, which counteract the adhesion of bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract, ascorbic acid and quinic acid. In particular, it was found that quinic acid is a substance capable of protecting the health of the urinary tract. In fact, quinic acid stimulates the release of hippuric acid in the urine, acidifying it and making the environment unfavorable for the proliferation of bacteria responsible for infections (Das et al, Futur J Pharm Sci, 2020). And for an even stronger action, scientific studies have observed that propolis, taken with cranberries, enhances their antimicrobial action (Loubet et al, Front Microbiol, 2020). Not only that, cinnamon also helps to treat recurrent cystitis. In fact, cinnamon, thanks to its cinnamaldehyde content, counteracts the adhesion of bacteria and prevents their growth and proliferation. So, a good idea against recurrent cystitis is definitely to add a hint of a teaspoon of cinnamon to your morning yogurt. If the yogurt contains probiotics, and this must be explicitly indicated on the label, even better, as the anti-cystitis action is even more powerful. In fact, probiotics are also administered as a remedy in case of recurrent cystitis to rebalance the bacterial flora of the bladder and urethra (Das et al, Futur J Pharm Sci, 2020). To prevent recurring episodes of cystitis, also keep in mind D Mannose, which is a sugar that you can easily find in the form of a supplement in pharmacies, herbalists and specialty stores. D Mannose counteracts the adhesion of bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract and blocks their proliferation (Das et al, Futur J Pharm Sci, 2020 - Bazzaz et al, African Journal of Urology, 2021 - De Nunzio et al, Antibiotica, 2021 ).
The great ally against acute cystitis is certainly the bearberry (Das et al, Futur J Pharm Sci, 2020). Bearberry leaves in fact show valuable antibacterial and diuretic properties, which are therefore useful in counteracting the infection that can affect the urinary tract. Bearberry leaves can be used to make herbal tea. Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove it from the heat and add a tablespoon of dried bearberry leaves. Leave to infuse for 15 minutes, covering with a lid. Drink 3-4 cups a day between meals. Alternatively, bearberry can also be taken in the form of dry extract or mother tincture, in this case 50 drops diluted in water to be taken once a day.
Nettle against cystitis and stones
Nettle is a wonderful plant and, thanks to its diuretic properties, it can help to combat cystitis, stones and rheumatism. Nettle also exhibits antimicrobial properties that contribute to making this plant an ally against urinary tract infections (Bazzaz et al, African Journal of Urology, 2021). Bring two cups of water to a boil, remove from heat and add a tablespoon of dried nettle. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes, filter and drink. Immediately afterwards, to help the kidneys work, also drink a glass of water.
Diet to prevent cystitis
Diet is of great use both to support treatments for urinary tract infections and to prevent them. In particular, vitamin C, contained in kiwifruit, strawberries, cherries, citrus fruits, pineapple but also red sweet pepper, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and spinach, has shown antimicrobial properties. Not only that, vitamin C counteracts inflammation and free radical damage, supporting the immune system and thus making the body less susceptible to infections (Bazzaz et al, African Journal of Urology, 2021). It has been observed that, to maximize the effects of vitamin C against cystitis, it is possible to exploit its synergy with cranberries and probiotics by taking these remedies together. Vitamin A, contained in sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes, melon, apricots, eggs, green leafy vegetables, also helps to reduce the risk of urinary tract infection (Das et al, Futur J Pharm Sci, 2020). Then, vitamin D, contained in fish, mushrooms, milk and dairy products, also plays a very interesting role. In fact, it has been observed that this vitamin is able to strengthen the lining of the bladder and to restore the integrity of the mucosa, thus protecting it from the risk of infections (Bazzaz et al, African Journal of Urology, 2021). Then, low zinc levels are associated with an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections, so if possible, do not miss foods rich in this mineral such as cereals, for example oats, pumpkin seeds, cocoa, mushrooms and legumes. Finally, drinking green tea is also useful in preventing urinary tract infections, given its diuretic and antimicrobial properties (Reygaert et al, Front Microbiol, 2013).