Sharon is a largely self-taught herbalist who has been growing and studying herbs and making herbal preparations for several decades.
Ever Had a UTI?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are—you guessed it—infections caused by bacteria found in the urinary tract. In general, bacteria that enter the urinary tract were previously living in the large intestine. Most ladies will recall being advised to “wipe from front to back” when they were younger—this is why.
Common UTI Symptoms
- Pain while urinating
- Frequent urination, often with scant urine
- Abdominal heaviness or tenderness
- Cloudy or bad-smelling urine
- Lower back pain near the kidneys
Make an Echinacea Tea or Decoction
There are many excellent home remedies for UTIs. Many people drink cranberry juice. Members of Intentional Communities—who do a good deal of their own doctoring—tell me that they deal with UTIs by taking cranberry capsules and drinking lots and lots of tea consisting of uva ursi, corn silk, and marshmallow root. It works, too!
I myself never had a UTI in my life until I became diabetic. The sugar in the urine makes the urinary tract more inviting to bacteria and promotes their growth.
The very first time I realized I had a UTI, I began taking echinacea root tincture, one spoonful at a time. A dose of one tablespoon gave me relief in about an hour. To keep the infection from returning, I took one tablespoon of echinacea tincture three times a day, and the infection was gone in less than 24 hours.
Echinacea root can also be taken in capsules, in which case you should take four to six capsules three times a day, or as a decoction of the root, in which case you should drink three or four cups of the decoction each day. A decoction is simply a “tea” that is made by simmering the roots for 20-30 minutes instead of merely steeping as for a regular tea.
To make a decoction of Echinacea, add one ounce of the dried root to one quart of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain and drink. Refrigerate the unused liquid for later.
See a Doctor If You Have Other Health Problems
If you have fever, nausea, and vomiting, or if you have pain on one side of your back under your ribs, you should probably see a doctor. UTIs are a particular cause for concern in people who have known kidney problems, a weak immune system, diabetes, are over 65, or are pregnant.
Be Sure to Use Echinacea Root
The portion of the echinacea plant that has the most powerful medicinal properties is the root! Many of the echinacea capsules on the market today are a mixture of the root and “aerial portions”—the stem, leaves, and flowers. I have even seen echinacea capsules for sale that contain only the aerial portions, and none of the root at all.
If you decide to use capsules, be sure to read the label. It may be necessary to visit a health-food store to obtain echinacea capsules made with pure root, rather than the whole plant.
Many health-food stores have a bulk herbs section, where you can buy echinacea root, either dried, chopped, or in a powdered form. The dried chopped form may be made into a decoction, or even just washed down with water-like pills. The dried powdered form may be mixed with hot water to make a tea. Use about one heaping tablespoon of powder for each cup of tea.
Here is an important rule when using echinacea: Don't skimp on the dose. When in doubt, take too much rather than too little.
Echinacea has almost no flavor, though it may leave a kind of gritty feel in the mouth because it can be slightly numbing. Since you would probably prefer your echinacea “tea” to have a pleasant taste, you may add some of your other favorite herbs, such as mint, chamomile, hibiscus flowers, or even a handful of dried cranberries. Corn silk would be a soothing addition, but it doesn't have much flavor.
Here’s how to add these flavoring herbs: After the echinacea decoction has simmered for 20-30 minutes, remove from heat and add your favorite flavoring herb. Cover and let stand for about 10 minutes. You have just made a combination of a tea and a decoction! This combination is often used to prepare herbal medicines because some ingredients must be simmered and others steeped.
This is the quickest of all possible remedies for UTIs!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Sharon Vile (author) from Odessa, MO on June 20, 2013:
Sometimes UTIs strike on evenings or weekends, when you can't get to the doctor. If you take Echinacea, you may be surprised to find that you don't need to see the doctor after all. I found it took only two hours to get relief, after one dose--but it comes back if you don't take additional doses.
Deonne Anderson from Florence, SC on June 20, 2013:
Very useful information on UTIs. The herbal home remedy could be a life saver for those who don't have insurance. Voted up and useful.