Effective + Natural At-Home UTI Remedies


Over half of all women will have at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime. Antibiotics are the most common treatment, despite studies showing they may not always be needed to resolve infections. (1)

As a functional medicine expert, I’ve worked with many women who suffer from recurrent UTIs and want to move away from the cycle of antibiotic use at the first sign of symptoms.

While sometimes that prescription is necessary, home remedies for UTI symptoms can provide relief once you understand the cause of your symptoms. There’s a lot you can do to treat them naturally and prevent UTIs from coming back.

What Is A UTI?

A UTI is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is responsible for the majority of UTIs. (2) Infections can happen anywhere in the urinary system, including the ureters, bladder, urethra, or kidneys. Pyelonephritis is a type of UTI affecting the kidneys.

UTIs typically make themselves known with painful, apparent symptoms:

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Constant urge to urinate
  • Cloudy urine
  • Red, pink, or brightly colored urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic or lower abdomen pain

If your infection has spread to your kidneys, more severe symptoms may include:

  • Side pain
  • High fever
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills

Life-threatening complications like permanent kidney damage or sepsis are rare, but It’s important to treat symptoms as soon as possible to avoid serious side effects.

Antibiotics Versus Natural Remedies

In conventional medicine, your doctor runs a urine sample to detect the presence of bacteria in your urine. Once you’re diagnosed with a UTI, your healthcare provider typically prescribes antibiotics depending on the specific bacteria causing your infection.

While antibiotics can be necessary, overprescribing them is a problem that can result in unintended side effects. The microbiome is usually hit the hardest. Antibiotics can’t tell harmful bacteria from good strains responsible for boosting microbiome diversity and keeping your immune system healthy.

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In functional medicine, we aim to do what we can naturally and use antibiotics only when necessary. Functional medicine weighs the best outcomes with potential side effects. Sometimes antibiotics fit the bill, but natural treatment options can be quite effective in the case of UTIs.

The Best At-Home Remedies For A UTI

I can’t promise that you won’t ever need to take an antibiotic for a UTI again, but these natural remedies can diminish the likelihood that antibiotics remain your first course of UTI treatment.


D-mannose is a naturally occurring sugar found in foods like apples, blueberries, and cranberries. It’s known for binding to E.coli bacteria, the same bacteria that causes the majority of UTIs, and preventing a resulting infection. (3)

You can also find it as an over-the-counter supplement in powder or capsule form, often with extra ingredients like cranberry, probiotics, or dandelion extract. These are all great for women’s health and detoxing purposes, but watch out for any unnecessary additives.


Probiotics are important to digestive health, but a healthy microbiome is essential to a strong immune system and infection prevention, too. Studies show that using Lactobacillus acidophilus, or lactobacilli, is the most promising UTI preventative. (4)

You can add more probiotics to your diet with foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi or take a regular probiotic supplement. Gut-boosting foods have the added benefit of reducing chronic inflammation and combating adrenal fatigue.

The Probiotic is my go-to for microbiome balance. Each capsule includes 4 different strains of beneficial bacteria to support both your gut health and your overall wellness.  

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential to your immune system and enhances your body’s ability to fight off infections. Studies show it may also increase the acidity in your urine, resulting in less bacterial growth. (5)  That makes it a great UTI preventative, but exercise caution with active infections. Too much citrus, for example, can aggravate a bladder infection.

For overall wellness, citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, and strawberries are great natural sources of vitamin C. If you’re low or dealing with a condition that causes malabsorption, supplements can help.

Oregano Oil

Oregano’s antimicrobial properties may affect UTI-causing bacteria like E. coli, but most studies point to its effectiveness alongside antibiotics or as an essential oil. (6, 7) Oregano oil is a known anti-inflammatory, too, which can relieve some of the pain and discomfort associated with UTIs and support a healthy urinary tract. (8)

You can find it in capsule form to take orally. If you’d like to go the essential oil route, you’ll need to dilute oregano oil in a carrier oil before applying it topically. Never apply essential oils directly to or near the genital area.

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Garlic is a known antimicrobial superfood thanks to high levels of allicin, a compound that may suppress infection-causing bacteria like E. coli. (9) Garlic also offers an immune system boost, another key component of helping your body battle against infections.

A few cloves daily is a great addition to your diet. If you don’t love garlic, a garlic supplement is a good alternative. As with any supplement or significant dietary change, get medical advice from your primary care doctor first. Garlic, in particular, has a blood-thinning effect.

A Note On Cranberry Juice

Unsweetened cranberry juice and cranberry supplements may be the most popular UTI strategy out there, but the research has been mixed on whether claims are overblown.

A recent systematic review compiled the available research to generate some positive news for fans of the tart berries. There are components in cranberries, like proanthocyanidins, that seem to have a positive effect on UTI prevention. (10)

They also found that women with recurrent UTIs, children, and those at high risk for infections following medical interventions were most likely to benefit from a glass of cranberry juice. At the very least, cranberries are a good source of vitamin C and D-mannose, and we know those components are good at helping your body fight infection.

While we’re at it, I’ve also seen patients adding apple cider vinegar for UTI symptom management into their regular diet. While it is an antifungal, there just isn’t enough research to support apple cider vinegar as a UTI preventative. It may support kidney health, though. (11)

Tips For Preventing UTIs

The best natural remedy for UTIs is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here’s what you can do now to fight off a UTI before it starts.

Urinate Often

If you’re suffering from recurrent UTIs, this might seem overly simple, but it’s one of the best ways to flush bacteria from the urinary tract to prevent infections.

This is especially important after sexual activity. Urinating after intercourse helps clear any bacteria that might have entered your urethra. (12) There’s no recommended timeline here, but it’s best to do so as soon as possible after sex.

Drink Plenty Of Water

It’s scientifically proven that drinking lots of water reduces your risk of UTIs. (13) It’s the best way to dilute your urine, which simply means you’re urinating more often, and flush harmful bacteria out of your lower urinary tract.

Be sure that you’re drinking water throughout the day, and if you’re dealing with a current UTI, boost your hydration. Drink around 2 liters a day until your symptoms have subsided, which is about 8-9 glasses of water.

Stay Dry

Pathogenic bacteria love a moist environment. Drying off completely after showering or swimming can prevent bacteria from multiplying and causing an infection. If you’re doing something that causes you to sweat more, wear looser clothing and shower as soon as possible after the activity. Showers are better for UTI prevention than baths.

Switch Your Birth Control

Specific birth control methods like spermicides, diaphragms, and condoms coated in spermicides like ​​Nonoxynol-9 (N-9) are linked to a higher rate of UTIs. (14) While they’re effective at preventing pregnancy, they can contribute to bacterial growth. Seek out alternatives if you’re dealing with recurrent infections.

When To Seek Help From A Medical Professional

See a healthcare professional immediately if you’re experiencing any of the severe side effects I mentioned at the beginning. This could mean the infection has spread, and OTC treatments and heating pads won’t be enough to manage those symptoms.

If milder UTI symptoms don’t get any better after a day or so of at-home treatments, talk to your doctor. They may prescribe antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to your kidneys or rule out other bladder conditions.

If you’re struggling with recurring UTIs, a functional medicine doctor can get to the root of your symptoms. We run extensive labs to look at each of our patients holistically. This is the best way to develop a treatment plan that meets your unique needs.

Ready for a new approach to your urinary tract health and more? Schedule a consultation today.


UTI symptoms can linger after antibiotics if you have a strain resistant to antibiotics or the drugs weren’t taken as prescribed. It could also be because you don’t have a UTI at all. Conditions like interstitial cystitis or chronic bladder infections are often misdiagnosed as UTIs because of similar symptoms.

Foods to avoid during an active UTI include: 

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • High-sugar foods

Women are more likely to get UTIs because of their anatomy. Shorter urethras mean bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to the bladder.

Certain types of birth control and hormonal changes, particularly after menopause, are also risk factors. Postmenopausal women with recurrent UTIs may be referred for hormone therapy to boost reduced levels of vaginal estrogen.

Those with a history of kidney stones, incontinence, and a compromised immune system are also at higher risk for bacterial infections.

You may not be able to get rid of a UTI overnight, but antibiotics typically reduce symptoms within 24-48 hours. At-home remedies can take a few days longer. Left untreated, some UTIs may resolve within a week, but you put yourself at risk for dangerous complications.

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  1. Sánchez, X., Latacunga, A., Cárdenas, I., et al. (2023). Antibiotic prescription patterns in patients with suspected urinary tract infections in Ecuador. PLoS One, 18(11), e0295247. 
  2. Whelan, S., Lucey, B., & Finn, K. (2023). Uropathogenic escherichia coli (UPEC)-Associated urinary tract infections: The molecular basis for challenges to effective treatment. Microorganisms, 11(9), 2169. 
  3. Ala-Jaakkola, R., Laitila, A., Ouwehand, A.C., et al. (2022). Role of D-mannose in urinary tract infections - a narrative review. Nutrition Journal, 21(1), 18. 
  4. Grin, P.M., Kowalewska, P.M., Alhazzan, W., et al. (2013). Lactobacillus for preventing recurrent urinary tract infections in women: meta-analysis. The Canadian Journal of Urology, 20(1), 6607-6614. 
  5. Manzoor, M.A.P., Duwal, S.R., Mujeeburahiman, M., et al. (2018). Vitamin C inhibits crystallization of struvite from artificial urine in the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. International Brazilian Journal of Urology, 44(6), 1234-1242. 
  6. Lee, J.H., Kim, Y.G., & Lee, J. (2017). Carvacrol-rich oregano oil and thymol-rich thyme red oil inhibit biofilm formation and the virulence of uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 123(6), 1420-1428. 
  7. Leyva-López, N., Gutiérrez-Grijalva, E.P., Vazquez-Olivo, G., et al. (2017). Essential oils of oregano: Biological activity beyond their antimicrobial properties. Molecules, 22(6):989. 
  8. Sidiropoulou, E., Marugán-Hernández, V., Skoufos, I., et al. (2022). In vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticoccidial, and anti-inflammatory study of essential oils of oregano, thyme, and sage from epirus, greece. Life (Basel), 12(11), 1783. 
  9. Chang, Z., An, L., He, Z., et al. (2022). Allicin suppressed Escherichia coli-induced urinary tract infections by a novel MALT1/NF-κB pathway. Food & Function, 13(6), 3495-3511. 
  10. Williams, G., Hahn, D., Stephens, J.H., et al. (2023). Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Library: Cochrane Reviews, 4(4), CD001321. 
  11. Zhu, W., Liu, Y., Lan, Y., et al. (2019). Dietary vinegar prevents kidney stone recurrence via epigenetic regulations. EBioMedicine, 45, 231-250.
  12. Cai, T. (2021). Recurrent uncomplicated urinary tract infections: definitions and risk factors. GMS Infectious Diseases, 9, Doc03. 
  13. Zemdegs, J., Iroz, A., Vecchio, M., et al. (2023). Water intake and recurrent urinary tract infections prevention: economic impact analysis in seven countries. BMC Health Services Research, 23(1), 1197.
  14. Handley, M.A., Reingold, A.L., Shiboski, S., et al. (2002). Incidence of acute urinary tract infection in young women and use of male condoms with and without nonoxynol-9 spermicides. Epidemiology, 13(4), 431-436.

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Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, Gut Feelings, and The Inflammation Spectrum.

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