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Urinary tract Materia Medica

by Chanchal Cabrera

Medical Herbalism 3(4):6

    The following materia medica listing gives some of the most important herbs in the treatment of UTIs.


Allium sativum            garlic

Barosma betulina            buchu

Thymus vulgaris            thyme

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi        uva ursi

Chimaphila            pipsissewa


Solidago virguarea        goldenrod

Hydrastis canadensis        goldenseal

Galium aparine            cleavers


Althea off. rad. and fol.        Marshmallow root and leaf

Agropyron repens        couchgrass

Symphytum off. rad. and fol.    comfrey root and leaf


Petroselinum sativum        parsley

Agropyron repens        couchgrass

Taraxacum off. fol.        dandelion leaf
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    382


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies    

Galium aparine            cleavers


Viburnum opulis            cramp bark

Hyoscyamus niger        henbane

Valeriana off.            valerian

Other tips

Keep the genitals clean and dry. Always wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. Avoid the use of hygiene sprays and douches. Women should empty the bladder before and after intercourse and should not use tampons if they are prone to get UTIs. Use natural fiber underwear and avoid nylon and tight clothing.

Hot sitz baths with one cup of apple cider vinegar in the water or with chimaphila infusion are soothing and anti-inflammatory.

Drink plenty of fluids, avoid caffeine and alcohol.

For people with a tendency to recurrent UTIs a cleansing and detoxification program may be appropriate, along with herbal support of the immune system. After recovery from a UTI it may be useful to give a formula to act as a general tonic to the system. Appropriate herbs could include:

    Achillea millefolium        yarrow

    Hypericum perforatum    St. Johnswort

    Aphanes arvensis        parsley piert

    Equisetum arvensis        horsetail

    Avena sativa            wild oat

    Parietaria diffusa        pellitory-of-the-wall

A final word of warning concerns the fact that in young girls with repeated UTI you may need to consider the possibility of sexual interference. Urethral trauma is a significant etiological factor and I have had one patient of eight years old whose infection occurred every time she visited a certain friend’s house. It turned out that although each herbal prescription was successful, she was being assaulted by the friend’s father and thus kept on getting new infections.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    383


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies


UTI: clinical notes

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 3(4):5

Urinary tract infections require a medical diagnosis to rule out sexually transmitted disease, candida infection, or kidney infection. Do not assume that the patient has accurately diagnosed the condition.

If fever, chills, and other systemic symptoms are present, consider a severe infection or a spread to the kidneys.

Before treating UTI with natural methods, it is important to consider the overall picture of the patient. To use terminology from traditional Chinese medicine, a UTI patient will usually have a condition involving “heat” and the appropriate treatment is “cooling” foods, drinks, and herbs, and avoidance of “heating” substances (fats, heavy protein, hot spices). However, some UTI patients have a different picture entirely. They have a “deficiency” condition characterized by low constitutional vitality, and are unable to resist an infection. This kind of patient primarily needs strengthening of the entire system, and possibly strengthening of the reproductive system, as well as treatment for the infection.

Diaphragm use is implicated in up to 10% of women who suffer from recurrent cystitis.

UTI is extremely common in institutionalized elderly men and women, reaching levels of 30-50% of the institution population.

The typical conventional treatment is antibiotic therapy. In recurrent disease, daily doses are given for long-term use. Ironically, long-term antibiotic use may aggravate iinfections by promoting the growth of resistant strains of bacteria.


The principle is to maintain adequate urinary flow and prevent stagnation rather than to stimulate heavy urination. The chief way to this should be through increased intake of fluids rather than forcing urination through stimulating diuretics. It is important to rule out any kidney disease before using diuretics, as diuretics that act on the kidney may cause further irritation or damage. Commercial diuretic teas should be avoided in acute infections unless you know that none of their constituents are contraindicated. Increasing urinary flow can increase pain if there is much inflammation.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    384


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies    


These are soothing to inflamed tissues. Marshmallow and Corn Silk are both excellent examples for use in UTI. If giving the UTI formula in the form of a tincture, the demulcents may best be given as accompanying teas, because most demulcent substances dissolve best in water.  Better still, put the tincture drops into the hot tea to evaporate the alcohol.

Immune stimulants.

The body can normally resist infection through the urinary tract and an infection may be a sign of underlying immune weakness. A review of eight clinical cases of UTI treated with herbs showed that those treatments which included echinacea resolved faster than those which did not (Bergner)

Reproductive Tonics.

Tonification of the entire female or male reproductive system may be necessary in chronic infections. Examples of female tonics are vitex, helonias, black cohosh, and blue cohosh. A classic male tonifier is saw palmetto.

Caution in pregnancy

Many diuretic and urinary tract herbs are contraindicated during pregnancy. Avoid all commercial diuretic tea combinations. Demulcent teas may be drunk freely, and bearberry may be used with caution in moderate amounts in pregnancy without indications of risk of miscarriage.

Will cranberry juice cure bladder infections?

Cranberry juice is a folk remedy for bladder infections. Research has found it effective only to prevent such infections, but not to cure them. (Kilbourne 1991; Kilbourne 1986; Sobota) In one study, 4-6 ounces of a commercial cranberry juice daily significantly prevented infections in a nursing home population (Kilbourne, 1991). Another study used doses ranging from 5 to 20 ounces a day.

UTI References

Kilbourne JP. “Cranberry juice in urinary tract infection.” Journal of Naturopathic Medicine. 1991:2(1):45-47.

Kilbourne JP. “Cranberry juice appears to prevent urinary tract infections.” CCML newsletter. January 1986

Jensen B. Foods That Heal. 1988

Ni M. Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles. 1986

Sobota AE. “Inhibition of bacterial adhesion by cranberry juice: potential use for the treatment of urinary tract infections.” J Urology 1984: 131:1013
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    385


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies

Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    386