D-mannose: why don’t more people know about this natural UTI cure?

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There I was last fall: in San Francisco, visiting a “friend” (wink wink ow my eye) and feeling a UTI coming on again. What with the timing of my flight back home and the weekend, I knew it’d be a least a week before I’d be able to see my doctor back in Seattle, and so I fired up Ye Olde Google and tried to see what natural home treatments I could find.

I found lots of shady-looking posts on holistic wellness sites of questionable repute, suggesting everything from just drinking more water, to baking soda, to ginger tea, to waving a rock over my urethra… bla bla bla. Of course several sites suggested unsweetened cranberry juice, which I’ve tried and never had much luck with.

Then I read something about D-Mannose. It’s the simple sugar present in cranberries and some other fruits, and you can buy supplements or powders of it, and supposedly it helps with UTI symptoms.

Huh. I’m extremely skeptical when it comes to health advice on the internet (…you should be too!), so I decided to do some additional research. I wanted to see if I could find actual peer-reviewed research supporting D-Mannose as a UTI treatment.

And lo, I did! D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial. Choice quote: “Initial findings show that D-mannose may be useful for UTI prevention.” Ok, cool. That’s not quite a UTI cure, but it’s promising.

Oh and wait, then I found more:

Supposedly D-mannose “may help treat UTIs by binding to bacteria that would otherwise attach to the urinary tract lining.” (Source.) Basically, it goes through your body, picks up bacteria on the way through your bladder, and then you pee it out.

This was enough for me. I walked a few blocks to a natural foods store, bought a bottle of this stuff, and took five 500-mg pills immediately.

When I peed half an hour later, the discomfort was GONE.

Like, just gone.

In the six months since then, I’ve had several times when I’ve started to feel that awful familiar pinchy pre-UTI pain, and I immediately dose up on D-Mannose, and the situation has immediately resolved itself — no antibiotics necessary! (Thank god, because antibiotics fuck me up.)

Since then, I’ve been on a one-woman mission to spread the word about D-mannose, and several of my friends were like, “Yeah, no shit, welcome to what the rest of us have known for a long time.” Maybe I’m late to this party? Then again, when I talked to my OBGYN friend (she of the condoms and coercion article), she hadn’t heard of it… so I’m not the completely alone.

SO! On the off chance that you haven’t heard of it, I NEED TO TELL YOU ALL. Obviously, I’m not a doctor. Talk to your doctor! Do your research! Then grab some D-Mannose and try for yourself!


Edited to add a note from a reader, which is super important:

“I do wish you’d put a warning about what can happen if this DOESN’T fix the UTI, though. Because if untreated, a UTI can turn into a Kidney Infection, and if THAT is left untreated it can turn into a life-threatening blood infection that will land you in the ICU while the doctors are discussing final directives with your family.”

This is all to say, again: I am not a doctor. Talk to your doctor! This shit is serious.

Comments on D-mannose: why don’t more people know about this natural UTI cure?

  1. I feel like you somehow subconsciously knew how badly I’ve been suffering for the past month and wrote this just for me! I’ve had a UTI since April 5th. I didn’t seek medical treatment for a week because I thought it was an Interstitial Cystitis flare up. Having a condition that mimics another illness is really confusing, btw. Antibiotic one was taken, screwed with my stomach, and didn’t get rid of the infection. Antibiotic two was finished on Tuesday and I’m still feeling not quite right. Gonna add “find D-Mannose” to my errands list for this afternoon. Thanks Ariel!

    • if you have IC, this might not be good because it has cranberry in it and that can cause issues for people with IC. (I have IC, also)

      • Thanks for the heads up! I didn’t realize it had cranberry 🙁 Boo. When I was first trying to get diagnosed all the doctors thought it was a UTI and told me to drink as much cranberry juice as I could stand. When my OBGYN screened me for IC the first thing he told me was to stop with cranberry!

    • Exactly! When I first saw the article I was thinking, “I’ll read but then I know I’ll have to do some Googling on my own for the research” – but Ariel did it for us!!!

  2. Oh man even WITH the peer reviewed data on this I don’t think I’d ever try it.
    Then again I ended up hospitalized because I didn’t go to the doctor to treat a UTI when it first cropped up, so I’m pretty skittish about UTIs.
    I do wish you’d put a warning about what can happen if this DOESN’T fix the UTI, though.
    Because if untreated, a UTI can turn into a Kidney Infection, and if THAT is left untreated it can turn into a life-threatening blood infection that will land you in the ICU while the doctors are discussing final directives with your family.

    While I was in the hospital the doctors told me that anything more than one UTI every couple of YEARS is considered a “frequent” UTI, and should be addressed with aggressive medication to make sure it doesn’t come back.

    • Thank you for flagging that issue, Vee! I’m going to add a note about that — I want to be really REALLY responsible about the information I’m sharing here, and that’s an important piece of the pie.

  3. YAS! I am prone to UTIs, and even with religiously doing all the things they recommend you do to prevent them (pee after sex, cranberry juice, cotton underwear, ect.), I would end up on antibiotics anyway every couple months. When my sister told me about D-mannose, and the amazing results it’s having in PROPERLY DONE STUDIES, I jumped on that bandwagon so fast! She’s a medical doctor, so I knew I could trust what she was saying, since I’m HIGHLY skeptical about nearly all “amazing cures” people boast about on the internet (since most of them are crap). I take a pill a day for prevention, up it to 4 a day if I felt any symptoms, and I wasn’t on antibiotics for a YEAR. However just got recently pregnant and got a pretty bad UTI that I didn’t hesitate to go to the doctor for.

  4. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/103/6/1434.full

    I thought it was very interesting that this well reputed article on cranberry to prevent UTIs in females (note not the product in this article and not treating UTIs but preventing) was partially funded by Ocean Spray Cranberries Ltd and two of the authors are employees thereof.

    The BJUI article also indicates that previous experience with cranberry products is a conflicting factor and also states that the bulk of evidence assimilated via Cochrane Review wouldn’t support the recommending of cranberry to prevent UTIs. Admittedly from 2012 so this particular product might buck that trend but then it only seems to have been proven in vitro on other animal cells.

    So I’m going with, if it works for you (be it an actual physiological help or just a placebo) and isn’t causing any harm, go for it! But don’t be fooled into the published = totally unbiased mindset

  5. An untreated UTI killed my grandma. Fortunately, doctors were able to bring her back to life. She spent a month in the hospital after though. So ya, if it doesn’t work, take note and go to the dang doctor.

    That being said, you’re not alone in not knowing, I didn’t know. The last time I went to the doctor for one, she was just like “Why didn’t you just drink more water?” I don’t know, because that doesn’t actually work? Or maybe because if I drank anymore water, I’d be afloat?

    I’ll have to try this the next time I feel a UTI coming on. I hate going to the doctor unless I have to.

  6. The precision added to the article is important; an untreated UTI can indeed have terrible repurcussions.
    I’ll keep the product in mind though to ease the symptoms while waiting for the antibiotics to take effects, because that is still a major plus!

  7. My former urologist was AALLLLLLL about D-Mannose for UTIs, to the point she would sell you a bottle of the stuff herself and then tell you to hit the local alterna-pharmacy for refills. I haven’t had a UTI in more than 10 years, but I keep in it mind if I get one again.

  8. How timely. I happen to have the beginnings of a UTI (I’m a frequent flier at urgent care for UTIs) that set in shortly after reading this. After staring at the supplement aisle at my local health food store for about 20 minutes (who organized that aisle?!), I found it! I decided to get it in powder form because WHY NOT.

    I will let y’all know if it does anything to help.

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