Natural healing for bladder infections

One of our little girls has had 4-5 bladder infections a year for the past few years.  Antibiotics usually get her feeling better quickly.  But then a couple months later she’ll have another one.  Last year on our doc’s recommendation we got her checked out to make sure there’s nothing anatomically wrong.  There isn’t.  She’s just prone to bladder infections. The reading I’ve done suggests that one in five females has issues similar to hers.  So I decided to write about our journey in hope that others might be encouraged or find a bit of info that is new or helpful.

The more antibiotics our daughter has, the more concerned I’ve become about decimating her good gut flora.  Twice lately we’ve had to switch to a second antibiotic when the first didn’t work, which is not a good situation.  The last thing you want is to use antibiotics so much that you end up with a mutated resistant-to-everything bug.

With all those concerns in mind, I’ve been reading about natural ways to boost her immune system and hopefully keep her from getting more infections.  We began with cranberry juice, and moved on to D-Mannose capsules that I mixed into homemade yogurt for her every day or so.  Homemade yogurt has stronger and better cultures than store-bought, since it is cultured longer, and D-Mannose is a natural sugar (from cranberries?) that is touted to help with urinary tract healthy. Those things helped somewhat, but didn’t totally stave off bladder infections.

I talked to a helpful lady at the health food store whose own daughter had the very same issues.  She recommended that we limit our daughter’s sugar (oh, the sadness) and give her a daily  supplement with these tiny probiotic ‘pearls’.   She said that when her own daughter gets a bladder infection, she just makes sure she has her supplements, limits sugar, gives her lots of fluid and rest, and lets her body fight the infection on its own.

I have to confess that waiting for an infection to run its course and get better on its own sounded a little nerve-wracking to John and me at first.  We won’t deprive our daughter of needed medical care–if she gets so ill that she’s feverish, we’ll probably still bring her in for antibiotics.

But last week after a large amount of Halloween candy, she said she was getting another bladder infections. After mentally beating myself up for letting her eat candy, I sprang into action.  We upped her liquids and rest, avoided sugar, gave her twice-daily probiotics, and increased her yogurt/D-mannose consumption to 3x a day.  (Thankfully she eats plain yogurt fine.) Then we waited.

For a couple days she seemed to be getting neither better nor worse, still with mild symptoms.   On the third day, she said that her bladder infection was going away.  Days 4 and 5 she said it was all gone.  Now, after a week, I’m still keeping her off sugar, but she seems to be completely better. (She has a history of being reliable at telling me whether or not she’s sick: she can feel it.)

I think we’ll continue with the 3x a day yogurt for a couple more days.  And she and I together have decided that sugar just isn’t good for her.  This morning she had frozen raspberries (warmed up) on her pancakes instead of jam, and the other evening instead of ice cream at a fast food place she had an order of french fries.  Not stellar nutrition there, but certainly less sugar than the ice cream. (And honestly–her contentedness with the substitute felt like the real victory.)

I’m not assuming we have this problem completely handled.  But I am encouraged we seem to have dodged the need for antibiotics this time around.  Even needing half as many doses of antibiotics in a year’s time would be a good improvement, I think, though of course I’m really hoping we’ve found the solution(s) that will help her be healthy all the time.

If you have other good hints for boosting immune health or good sources of info about natural healing, please share! Here are some of the blogs I’ve found encouraging and informational along the way:

Healthy Home Economist





  1. I get them regularly and cannot take antibiotics b/c they make me sick. Instead my doctor told me to take Dmannose. I take 1 tsp in a little bit of water to dissolve ( I buy the powder) and repeat every two hours that first day. Then once a day for the rest of the week. Honestly since that first bad infection I’ve never had to take more than 3 doses that first day for it to go away completely. It is a life saver.

  2. Awesome that the D mannose is working for you too! That’s really encouraging to me.


  3. I highly recommend cranberry tea for a bladder infection that hasn’t quite started yet, but feels uncomfortable (it might help for an infection that’s further along, but I try to stave them off to avoid the antibiotics too). I don’t know whether cranberry tea is appropriate for children, but the advantage over cranberry juice is no sugar and the warm liquid seems to be more comforting than something cold. Traditional Medicinals Cran Aid is the brand I like — for the taste mostly, but you should be able to find a version in most health-food stores or online.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Kudos to your daughter for her willpower!! I was also off sugar for (non-serious) medical reasons when I was about 9-11 years old. Looking back, I’m surprised at my own willpower. After I had agreed with my mom that I couldn’t have sugar, that was that. I remember one time a friend gave my sister and me some pieces of candy, and I stuck mine in my pocket and later pulled it out as a treat for my little brother. I didn’t have to throw it away or remind myself not to eat it; I had told myself I couldn’t have it, so I didn’t think about it anymore. Besides being important for my health, I think going off sugar was a good learning experience for me in building willpower and learning that I can stick with my goals. Now, if I’m trying to cut calories or change anything else in my diet, I remember my little 9-year-old self and encourage myself that if I could do it then, I can do it now!

  5. I’ve had lots of success with high quality essential oils – oregano is a really good one. You would need to dilute it with a carrier oil as it is a ‘hot’ oil and use a higher dilution ratio for sensitive skin. Rub a drop (diluted w/ carrier oil like coconut or olive oil) on bottom of each foot and over bladder area. Start out hourly when you feel something starting. If it’s past the ‘starting’ stage – you can apply every 15 minutes for a couple of hours. Hope that makes sense!

  6. My mom has struggled for years, and while she also swears by yogurt, she has had the best luck with cranberry juice.

  7. I’ve had really good luck with 1 tsp. cream of tartar in 1 cup warm water taken a couple of times a day. It relieves the discomfort within a couple of hours, and clears the infection in 2-3 days (I also up my water intake) I’m not sure if it’s an appropriate treatment for a child, but it works very well for an adult.

  8. When I was pregnant with baby #2, I got a bladder infection and my midwife told me to take a product called CranActin. It’s a cranberry extract in a pill form. I had great success with using it to clear up the infection and have recommended it to friends who have had the same results. You can find CranActin in health food stores such as Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, etc. I hope you find something that helps!

  9. My daughter was seen by a Pediatrician last week for this problem and what we’re working on foremost is her chronic constipation. Apparently that may be a major contributor to her frequent tummy aches, headaches and poor appetite.
    From my own experience at the first sign of an ITU, I get in a warm bath liberally dosed with natural apple cider vinegar and it seems to balance things out and ease the discomfort.

  10. We are whole-heartedly in love with probiotics.

    Our favorite is NOW Foods Gr8-Dophilus. We’ve found it to be highly effective. We give it to the kids as well…just open a capsule and sprinkle it in their mouth (it tastes mildly sweet) and have them drink water afterward.

    NOW’s Candida Clear also works great to reduce yeast overgrowth and allow the probiotics to restore your natural bacteria. I’m not certain, but I think that candida may sometimes cause bladder infections.

    I have found useful information on WellTellMe and in Swanson Vitamins’ health library.

  11. When I get a bladder infection I mix some grapefruit seed extract (a natural antibiotic)in some (non-sugared) juice and take it with every meal. Also mix some apple cider vinegar and baking soda with water and drink it frequently (the acidity clears out the urinary tract). LOTS OF WATER helps flush out anything that’s in the urinary tract–think gallons if you can hack it. 🙂 I see that someone mentioned oregano as a good natural antibiotic; I’ve tried essential oil (one drop per cup of water and you have to power chug it because it tastes nasty and if you have dry lips, watch out–it hurts!). I’ve much preferred oregano pills but (for lack of evidence) I’ll just say it doesn’t *seem* as effective to me as the essential oils. If she’s prone to infection you might want to try a regular immune supplement–I use Beeyoutiful’s Ultra Immune, which is a combo of oregano, elderberry, garlic extract…and some other good stuff. Caffeine can exacerbate an infection so watch for things like chocolate, soda, and (non-herbal)tea. Hope this helps!

  12. I, too, am prone to bladder infections and have learned to identify them at the first “twinge.” I can now stave them off by drinking tons and tons of water right away, and taking 2 cranberry capsules every 3 or 4 hours for the first day or so. Once its full blown, its pretty tough to get rid of them on your own, but if you can catch it early (and your daughter may be able to identify this herself), you may be able to avoid it. I’ve even heard of some people taking cranberry as a preventative, as it doesn’t do any harm. Any drugstore will carry the cranberry capsules. They are more concentrated than the juice, and don’t have any of the sugar.

  13. All those natural remedies sound great. We went with homeopathy when our youngest had a bladder infection as a toddler and it really helped, plus she hasn’t had a recurrence since then. However to get exactly the right remedy you do need to see a homeopath, so if the herbal and yoghurt treatments are working, go with that.

  14. Jennifer Logue says:

    We have battled UTI’s for years with one of our little ones, been through a specialist, and every medical test out there came back negative for a problem. It truly has been life-altering for her to have chronic UTI’s and I think because of it, she has a lower immune system then our other kids. Up until 1 month ago, I only knew to try cranberry pills, but she would still get them and I knew yet another round of antibiotics was not good for her gut. Recently, she got another UTI, but I had just heard about mannose and of another Mama who had tried it with positive results. It was hard to sit tight when I knew she had a pretty bad infection…but we started a regimine of 1 mannose w/cran-actin capsule and a probiotic in the AM, cranberry pill in the PM…two days of this and she woke up with a dry pullup…and one night has turned into 8 dry nights and she has no more other symptoms. I was completely floored that this seemed to heal her infection. I’m pretty sure what sets her off is sugar and dairy, which leads to a candida overgrowth in her gut, then eventually another UTI. She has been almost dairy free for several years but the sugar is a battle. I am hopeful this particular supplement regimine will allow her to eat a limited amount of sugar without more infections….so she can work toward a healthier gut…and in turn become healthier overall. I think it’s great that you have shared this post because chronic UTI’s are challenging to deal with, yet parents are kind of left on their own to help their children once no medical reasons are found. I’m so thankful we are FINALLY discovering a way to help our daughter with this. I’m so glad you are too!!! Blessings, Jennifer

  15. I got rid of bladder infections by cutting out oranges from my diet (I do use lemons though).

    Also, I drink goldenrod tea.

  16. supermom_laura says:

    Sugar is a big culprit when it comes to bladder infections!!!

  17. On one of my rotations I worked with a naturopathic PA and we did some reading about D-mannose. The idea is that you have D-mannose in the lining of your urinary tract. It is the “stepping stone” that E. coli uses to climb up the urethra to the bladder and further. As E. coli is the most common culprit of UTIs, D-mannose has been used to theoretically distract the E. coli, as the sugar fills the bladder in the urine, and attract/bind with the E. coli and then flush it out with urination.

    Another friend who has had chronic UTIs since childhood also uses D-mannose regularly. When she feels the symptoms coming on she increases the frequency of her doses until symtoms resolve. Seems to work decently well for her and has drastically cut down on her clinic visits and antibiotic use (which has all sorts of inherent issues when frequently prescribed).

  18. I immediately thought of a book I read recently called “It’s No Accident”. The book is about how chronic constipation is actually the cause of kids’ bladder issues. It is related to what commenter number 9 said. A lot of girls who get frequent UTI’s are chronically constipated (and this can occur even when kids are pooing regularly, the softer stuff slides around the blockage). The bacteria can travel even if they are wiping correctly. It is a fascinating read. Definitely would be worth checking out!

  19. I struggled with repeated bladder infections as a teenager. I would take antibiotics and a month or two later find myself with another infection. My doctor told me to take 1000mg vitamin C 3 times a day for a month and then 500mg 3 times a day thereafter. I stopped having infections for many years. To this day (and I am now 50) if I feel that twinge of an infection coming on I immediately start pushing fluids and taking Vitamin C. I haven’t had a full blown infection for over 30 years. Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. your body can only use so much of it and the rest is excreted by your kidneys. The large amount of ascorbic acid in your urine makes it a hostile environment for the bacteria and the increased fluids help flush out the infection.

  20. Just to improve immunity overall and help reestablish good gut flora, we have found drinking kefir to be of help. I bought the grains to make it myself from someone local and we all drink it 2 to 3 times a week. It is tangy and takes time to get used to, but it is really very good in a smoothie with blended berries or bananas. Easier to make at home than yoghurt too, just sits out on your counter! We have had very little sickness since we started drinking it regularly.

  21. I thought I just had a bladder infection and upped the cranberry tablets and water. Discovered it was a yeast infection because of the antibiotics I was on for sinus infection.

  22. I had UTIs several times a year from about 4 to 8 years of age, and again when I got married. When I was a kid I didn’t even know what they were called – I would just tell my mom the symptoms and she would sit me in the bathroom with a book and a HUGE amount of water and after drinking all the water 1 – 2 times (think Thirstbuster cup) I would be better! Now I also use cranberry pills if I think I might be getting a UTI.

  23. I use to get them…poor thing :).

    Acidophilus ( a vitamin) works great to take for bladder infections. Also drinking cranberry juice and not taking long baths.

  24. I am a long time reader and felt compelled to comment for the first time because I became vulerable to bladder infections as an adult and ended up developing intersitital cystitis = IC (fancy name for unexplained bladder pain with no hard evidence of an infection which is not so uncommon) which is now in remission. I don’t want to be alarmist, but not treating a bladder infection properly concerns me because it could potentially lead to IC. I use D-Mannose sporadically and feel it helps to stave off potential infections. I would caution against using any cranberry products because they are potent bladder irritants. Extremely strict hygiene is priceless (think wet TP and baby wipes always, no exceptions) to prevent infections. Another idea if you haven’t yet is to purchase UTI strips, then you can see at home if there is an infection that needs to be treated (leukocytes, red blood cells and possibly nitrite would be positive). If the strip isn’t positive she might just have an irritated bladder, in that case cutting out bladder irritating foods might help; you can google IC-diet. A bladder with repeating infections can just get sensitive while healing, which makes sense.
    I hope maybe something in my post is helpful. I struggled with bladder problems for so long that I don’t want anyone else to deal with it if there is something simple they can do to prevent it. I think it’s great that the probiotics, D-Mannose and lots of water seem to be working!

  25. My mother told me to always wipe from front to back when using the bathroom. I rarely get a bladder infection.

    • michelle says:

      I really dislike it when people make comments like these–it is very condescending. For people who have struggled with problem for many years and to be told by this type of statement that we are unsanitary is pretty thoughtless. In my own case, I have tried so many things over my 36 years of life struggling to overcome this horrible recurrent problem. I know the do’s and don’ts to avoid bladder infections, but yet, I still get to experience the pain about five times a year. This time, I have the pain without the infection, which may be IC (the first antibiotic worked to heal the bladder pain but caused other horrible side effects so I was changed to another that seems to be doing absolutely nothing.). Do here I am with pain, trying desperately to find something that will help me with this incessant burning. I even go to a women’s only urologist. So before you tout your “cure” for recurrent uti’s, please be sensitive to those of is who know how to wipe correctly but are still left with pain.

      • I’m so sorry for your pain! It is SO frustrating to be doing it all right and still be in pain. Hope you feel better soon.

  26. While a little late I hope you still get this message. I get UTIs very frequently (6+ times per year) but have not required anti-biotics in five years. The secret: apple cider vinegar. At the first signs of symptoms stir a tablespoon (it depends on how much of the taste you can take) into a big glass of water and drink it down. Repeat two or three times for the first day while also drinking large amounts of water. The pain will be gone a half an hour after the first glass and the symptoms completely gone by the end of the day.


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