Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are uncomfortable infections of the urinary system– the kidneys, bladder, or urethra- that can cause irritation and burning during urination. If left untreated, UTIs can spread to the kidneys and lead to serious consequences. These infections are usually caused by the bacteria E.Coli, but other types of bacteria can infect the urinary tract as well. UTIs are most common among women, although they can occur in anyone, because of the combination of physiology and hormonal shifts women experience throughout their lives. It is estimated 50% of women will have at least one UTI during their lifetime. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, but there might be a more natural solution. D-mannose is a simple sugar that has been shown in several studies to be a natural treatment for UTIs, almost as effective as antibiotics without as many side effects.
What is D-mannose?
D-mannose is a naturally occurring sugar found in many fruits, specifically peaches, oranges, and berries. It is one of the reasons why cranberries are regularly recommended as a way to prevent UTIs, they are high in this particular sugar. When extracted from food it is a white crystal like powder, very similar to sugar. It can be easily dissolved in liquids and consumed that way.
Once ingested, D-mannose acts slightly differently from other sugars in that it isn’t absorbed very quickly and is not readily stored. Therefore, it is more likely than other sugars to enter the bloodstream unchanged and eventually make its way to the urinary tract, where it can help treat and prevent UTIs. Since it is metabolized slightly differently than other sugars it is safe for people with diabetes. Also, since it is basically just sugar, it can be safely used to treat children and the elderly, there is no risk of toxicity.
Additionally, there are many health benefits of D-mannose for women. As previously mentioned UTIs occur most commonly in women. Many women struggle with recurrent UTIs, especially because of certain types of birth control, sexual intercourse, or hormonal changes. Menopause tends to increase the risk of UTIs because of the changes in bacterial balance and hormonal profile that occurs during this time. D-mannose is a great supplement for women’s urinary health and can be a natural treatment for UTIs.
UTI treatment without antibiotics
UTIs can be at best uncomfortable but can become dangerous if left untreated. Since they are so common, doctors are generally quick to treat them with antibiotics, which unfortunately can cause side effects such as diarrhea, yeast infections, and nausea, not to mention killing off many beneficial bacteria in the process. If you have a UTI, these side effects may leave you looking for an alternative treatment to try first, instead of automatically going the antibiotic route. As always, it is best to talk to your doctor before trying any treatments since untreated UTIs can be quite serious and lead to permanent kidney damage.
D-mannose has proven effective for recurrent UTIs in several studies. A 2013 study published in the World Journal of Urology compared the use of antibiotics and D-mannose in 308 women with a history of recurrent UTI. The participants of the study were divided into three groups, the first received 2g of D-mannose for 6 months, the second a common antibiotic used to treat UTIs, and the third did not receive any treatment. In the group that received the D-mannose only 14% continued to have recurrent UTIs, whereas 20% continued in the antibiotic group, and 62% in the placebo group. Those in the D-mannose group also reported significantly fewer side effects than those on antibiotics. The researchers determined that based on these results the D-mannose was equally as effective as the antibiotics.
If you have decided you want to try a natural treatment for UTIs first, D-mannose may be a good home remedy for UTI. D-mannose works by preventing E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder and urinary tract by using the bacteria’s desire for sugar against them. The type of E. coli that most commonly causes UTIs has tiny hairs all along its cell walls. These hairs are designed to pick up any molecule of mannose they run across. When the little hairs are holding onto a D-mannose molecule, they cannot also hold on to the walls of the urinary tract. Basically, D-mannose in the urine distracts the E.coli with a shiny object, one the bacteria want to grab onto, preventing them from latching on to the area causing an infection, and then they are washed away with the flow of urine.
Home Remedies for UTI Treatment and Prevention w/ D-Mannose
Before starting a natural treatment for UTIs with D-mannose, be sure to tell your doctor you are going to try it as an alternative, so they can help monitor your progress and be able to determine if you need more aggressive treatment. If you have decided you want to take D-mannose to treat a UTI the general recommended dosage for an adult is 1 teaspoon dissolved in water or a capsule containing at least 500-600mg. It can be taken every 2-3 hours for an active infection. This should be continued for at least 48-72 hours after symptoms are gone. Relief should occur quickly. If symptoms do not improve within 24 hours, it may be a UTI caused by bacteria other than E.coli and may need a different type of treatment.
D-mannose isn’t just used for treating active infections, it can also be used for prevention. Many women tend to have recurrent infections, especially during menopause, and D-mannose can help with prevention. Start with 600 mg once a day and increase if needed. If you frequently have what is referred to as “honeymoon cystitis” or UTIs after intercourse, try 600 mg about an hour before sex and 600 mg immediately after.
Prevention and Natural Treatment for UTIs
Other things you can do as home remedies for UTIs and can be used in conjunction with D-mannose treatment include:
– Drinking plenty of water, at least 64 ounces in a day
– Drink cranberry juice (unsweetened if possible). It contains two different substances, including D-mannose, that help fight UTIs.
– Take vitamin C to help acidify the urine, making it inhospitable for bacteria.
– Practice good hygiene, such as front to back wiping and cleansing after intercourse.
– Urinate immediately after intercourse.
– Don’t resist the urge to urinate as it can lead to bacterial build-up.
UTIs can be quite uncomfortable during active infection, so of course, you are motivated to try a fast-acting treatment or prevention altogether. D-mannose is a great prevention and natural treatment for UTIs without the harsh side effects of antibiotic treatments.