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.