Uva ursi has a long history of being used as a remedy for urinary tract infections. Interestingly, before the invention of sulfa drugs and antibiotics, uva ursi was a common treatment for bladder infections.
Uva ursi’s ability to fight off urinary tract infections is due to its ability to produce certain chemicals, including arbutin and hydroquinone. It also has astringent effects from the tannins it contains.These tannins help to shrink and tighten mucous membranes in the body, which helps reduce inflammation and fight off bladder infections.
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There are some serious risks to this herb. One of the chemicals in uva ursi, called hydroquinone, can damage the liver. You should only take uva ursi for short periods (generally recommendations are no longer than 5 days). This is one of those supplements that you want to make sure your health care provider knows you are taking it and has given you the okay. IT is also recommended that you do not take a series of doses of uva ursi more than 5 times in 1 year. Make sure you follow the instructions and don’t take more than the recommended doses.
Uva Ursi also interacts with lots of medications. The ones that are probably most worrisome for IC patients are with NSAIDS and other drugs that may acidify the urine. Get the details in the further reading section
We have all heard about cranberry juice and it’s ability to help prevent UTIs. This is due to the D-mannose in cranberry juice. D-mannose is a natural molecule that is found in cranberries, apples and some other fruits. It prevents UTIs by sticking to the E. coli proteins. This coats the E. coli so it can no longer adhere to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract.
If the bacteria can’t stick to the walls of your bladder then they can be easily flushed out when you pee. Bam! UTI avoided.
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D-mannose appears to be safe for most adults. It can cause bloating and loose stools. If you take it in high doses it also may damage the kidneys so follow the instructions. D-mannose might interfere with blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
Methenamine is found in combination with other products, not by itself. Cystex and Azo Urinary Defense are examples. The way it works is by
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Lots of cautions due to the combinations of several drugs. Check with the pharmacist at the drug store (yes you can talk to a pharmacist about OTC medications). Also, follow the instructions on the medication closely. Remember that methenamine requires your urine to be acidic for it to work. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to mix it with meds like baking soda, which will make your urine more alkaline!
Further Reading on Urinary Antiseptics UTI prevention:
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