Bladder infections, or urinary tract infections (UTIs), are some of the most frequent clinical bacterial infections diagnosed in women, accounting for nearly 25% of all infections. With 50–60% of women experiencing at least one UTI in their lifetime, and antibiotics being prescribed for the vast majority, UTIs can have an astounding effect on more than just our bladders. Side effects aside, frequent antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic resistance, which is one reason a whopping 95% of recurrent UTIs are from reinfection.

From this, it’s obvious that “modern medicine” is no longer doing its job when it comes to the eradication of UTIs. We need to look to natural substances to see that there are other options out there. These options have shown clinical promise in not only treating, but also preventing recurrent infections.

Cranberry is probably the most well-known herbal medicinal treatment for UTIs. Cranberry contains proanthocyanidins, which help reduce Escherichia coli colonization. With E. coli being the most prevalent bacteria isolated in UTIs, cranberry, with its impressive safety profile, is something to consider taking both preventatively and as a treatment if you are prone to bladder irritation.

Interestingly, propolis taken with cranberry may be an even bigger blow to the bacteria in our bladders. Propolis is a resinous material collected by bees from plants and mixed with bee enzymes for use in their colonies to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Propolis’s antimicrobial activities are well documented against different bacteria in humans. In a recent human clinical trial, it was shown for the first time that propolis potentiated the effect of cranberry proanthocyanidins on adhesion, motility, and biofilm formation of uropathogenic E. coli.

D-mannose is another natural substance useful in treating and preventing E. coli-associated UTIs.

25% of all infections diagnosed are UTIs

50-60% of women will experience at least one UTI in their lifetime

95% of recurrent UTIs are from reinfection

This simple sugar, found naturally in certain plants and fruits, can bind to the outer structure of bacteria, blocking their ability to stick to the urinary tract wall. In a review of randomized, controlled trials, researchers confirmed that D-mannose significantly reduced the risk of recurrent UTIs with minimal side effects.

With the emergence of antibiotic resistance, finding alternative treatments for UTIs is critical. Thankfully, researchers continue to study the effects of natural substances like cranberry, propolis, and D-mannose. With their ability to both treat and prevent the next UTI from coming down the pipeline, this tremendous trio is such an important consideration to help preserve the quality of life for the millions of women who experience UTIs every year.