Most people have experienced a urinary tract infection or other UTI issue at some point in their life. And, with the growing resistance of the superbugs that cause them, it is more important than ever to keep the urinary tract healthy and strong. Here are some of my favorite herbs for this purpose:
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi)
The leaves of this shrub can be an effective kidney and urinary tract cleanser. It reduces inflammation throughout the urinary tract and has been traditionally used to help with kidney stones or gravel. Preliminary research suggests that the compound arbutin found in bearberry may help counter bladder cancer. Steep one teaspoon of dried bearberry leaves in a cup of boiled water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain and drink three cups daily if you’re fighting a UTI infection or one to three per day to give your urinary system some love. While there are reports on the internet that the herb causes many serious side-effects or organ damage, research published in the International Journal of Toxicology concluded that the herb was a safe option against urinary tract infections. Regardless, like other herbs, it is a potent medicine and it is best not to exceed the recommended dose.
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Also known as goosegrass, this herb has a lengthy tradition of use as a kidney and urinary tract booster. It is believed to flush out toxins and waste matter from the kidneys. You can reap its benefits by using two teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiled water. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, then strain and drink up to three cups a day. Avoid use if you have diabetes or diabetic tendencies.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion leaves have been used for many years by herbalists to help cleanse and strengthen the kidneys and urinary tract. New research in the medical journal Renal Failure found that the herb does indeed help to protect the kidneys against damage from certain toxins. It is believed that dandelion works on the urinary tract by acting as an antioxidant and as a diuretic, to boost the excretion of excess water and sodium in the body. By doing so, it may also have a balancing effect on high blood pressure, which is regulated by the kidneys.
Nettles (Urtica dioica)
I recommended nettles for building strong bones in my recent blog 4 Herbs that Build Strong Bones but nettles has also been found to help fight E. coli infections linked to urinary tract infections. Published in the medical journal Urological Research, the scientists found that not only do nettles demonstrate antibacterial activity against E. coli bacteria, it also battles the biofilms the bacteria secrete to help them survive in the body. Biofilms are a thin, potentially health-damaging layer of microorganisms that secrete substances to help ensure their survival in or on the body. The presence of biofilms is usually a factor in infections that are difficult to eradicate.
Whether you’re battling urinary tract infections, frequent trips to the bathroom or just need a kidney and urinary tract boost, look no further than these potent herbs.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty Cooking