(Urinary Tract Infections)

See also:

Immune support


Research shows that cranberries inhibit urinary tract infections (UTIs). The mechanism is not, as once thought, via the acidification of the urine. In fact studies indicate that compounds in cranberries are actually able to prevent certain bacteria from adhering to the lining of the bladder and urethra, and in doing so prevent infection. Sugar has a detrimental effect on the immune system, so unsweetened cranberry juice, or cranberry supplements are preferred in UTIs.

Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids

The ability of vitamin C to increase white blood cells function, interferon production and antibody activity make it one of the most mportant nutrients in helping the immune system to fight infection. Various bioflavonoids are known to both protect and enhance the absorption of vitamin C, as well as possessing anti-inflammatory effects (which may be of additional value in cystitis).

Mineral Citrates

Although it is commonly thought that raising the acidity of urine will help cystitis (by reducing the level of pathogenic organisms), there is increasing scientific justification for alkalinising the urine instead. This is especially relevant when symptoms are not associated with pathogenic infection. Several studies employing mineral citrates to alkalinise the urine showed considerable effectiveness in reducing or relieving the symptoms of cystitis.

Goldenseal (nyarastis conodensis)

Goldenseal is one of the most effective herbal anti-microbial agents, and has a long history of use in various infections. The active compounds in goldenseal (e.g. berberine) have been shown to kill many different species of harmful bacteria, including types associated with causing UTIs (e.g. E. coll). Goldenseal also enhances immune function, which is of utmost importance in both the treatment of, and recovery from, urinary tract infections.

Gotu Kola (centello asiatica)

Research has found that the herb gotu kola speeds the repair of the bladder lining and promotes the healing of urinary tract ulcerations. This would be especially useful in persistent or recurrent cystitis (including chronic interstitial cystitis).

Cystitis Summary

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range

Cranberry Extract

Vitamin C + Bioflavonoids (1)

Mineral Citrates (e.g. calcium or magnesium

citrate) (2)

Goldenseal extract (10% alkaloids) (3,4)

Gotu kola extract (3,5)

400 – 1 OOOmg three times per day

1 000 – 3000mg vitamin C with 200 –

bioflavonoids per day

1 OOOmg

1 00 – 600mg elemental mineral content per day

1 50 – 600mg per day

500 – 4000mg per day

Reduce/avoid Increase


Refined carbohydrates

Full strength fruit juice

Potential food allergens



Onions and garlic

Unsweetened cranberry juice

Complex carbohydrates


Fruit (especially berries)

Whole grains

Lifestyle Factors

Drink plenty of water

Support immune system function – see ‘immune support’ section.


1. High intake of ascorbic acid associated with loose stools. High doses may interfere with Warfarin. High doses should be avoided by those with kidney disease, kidney stones or those with sickle cell anaemia.

2. High doses of magnesium may cause loose stools

3. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation.

4. Use in cardiovascular conditions under medical supervision only. May increase the effects of alcohol. Do not use concurrently with anti-arrhythmia, anti-coagulant, beta-blockers or antihypertensive medications. May inhibit absorption of B-complex vitamins – consider supplementation of B-complex with concurrent use.

5. Concurrent use with cholesterol medication, oral hypoglycaemics and insulin under medical supervision only.