The disease with lots of different names
No matter what you call it—cystitis, bladder infection, urinary tract infection or UTI—the symptoms are a real pain in the bladder. You have the sudden urge to pee, but when you make it to the bathroom you feel more of a burning sensation than relief. And if you don’t nip it in the bud, that burning can progress to a full-blown infection that includes fever, chills, lower abdominal pain and/or blood in the urine.
About one out of two women will have a UTI at least once during her lifetime. But men can also get bladder infections, especially if they have an enlarged prostate.
Also, a large percentage of individuals with spinal cord injuries suffer from UTIs, and guess who most of those individuals are? Young men who have had accidents—especially motorcycle—or have sustained injuries as a result of combat.
Preventing UTIs … naturally
The typical treatment for urinary tract infections is a round of antibiotics. The problem is, antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in your gut, which leads to other health problems. The good news is that D-Mannose can prevent UTIs before they take hold.
What is D-Mannose?
It is a simple sugar structurally related to glucose, that is found in many fruits, including peaches, apples, oranges, cranberries, and blueberries. It is also produced in your body. D-mannose is considered a safe and natural nutritional food supplement. Since it isn’t metabolized, it doesn’t interfere with blood sugar regulation, and is therefore safe for diabetics.
Here’s the incredible part. According to researchers at the Washington University (WU) School of Medicine in St. Louis, most UTIs start when Escherichia coli (E. coli)—a microorganism that lives in the digestive tract and is found in the anal area—invade the bladder and penetrate a protective coating of the superficial cells that line the bladder. In most cases, urine flow washes out bacteria from the bladder. But the cell wall of E. coli bacteria has tiny finger-like projections that contain complex molecules called lectins on their surface. These lectins are cellular glue that binds the bacteria to the bladder wall so they cannot be easily rinsed out by urination.1
Well, the chemical structure of D-Mannose causes it to stick to E. coli bacteria, maybe even more tenaciously than E.coli adheres to human cells. Although the mechanism of how it works is complicated, theoretically, if enough D-mannose is present in the urine, it binds to the bacteria and prevents them from attaching to the urinary tract lining.2 3
D-mannose has been shown to reduce bacteria in rats in a dose dependent manner. In fact, D-mannose was found to significantly reduce bacteria in one day.4
Normal urination, therefore, with a sufficient level of D-mannose present, becomes a simple and effective treatment for treating and preventing UTIs.
E. coli cells coated by D-mannose in the urine become unglued and get flushed right out of the body. And the beauty about D-mannose is that you can take it year-round without any side effects. You don’t have to wait until symptoms appear.
Symptoms of a UTI 6
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Painful, burning feeling in the area of the bladder or urethra during urination
- Fatigue, lethargy
- Women feel an uncomfortable pressure above the pubic bone.
- Some men experience a fullness in the rectum.
- Despite the urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is passed
- Milky, cloudy or reddish urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- A fever, which may mean that the infection has reached the kidneys
- Pain in the back or side below the ribs
- Nausea and/or vomiting
How is D-mannose different from cranberry extract?
Although D-mannose is found in cranberries, cranberries don’t contain enough of the sugar to have the same effect. At the same time, cranberry extract contains proanthocyanidins that also prevent E. coli from adhering to the urethra and bladder.5 Cranberry extract also has a potent immune-stimulating effect. The two, when taken together, produce a beneficial synergistic effect on the urinary tract system.
An estimated 34 percent of adults aged 20 or older (62.7 million) self-reported having had at least one occurrence of a urinary tract infection or cystitis.
How does E. coli invade the bladder in the first place?
Almost everyone is familiar with the horror stories that emerged several years ago when several children died from apple juice that was contaminated with E. coli. It’s true that you can get a very bad case of food poisoning from E. coli contamination—which is why you see signs in restaurant and grocery restrooms demanding all food workers to wash their hands—but with the exception of a few, rare dangerous forms, E. coli is a healthy part of our normal bowel bacteria.
The problem is, when E-coli gets out of the bowel where it belongs and into the bladder, you can get a UTI. The bacteria first travel to the urethra (the canal through which urine is discharged from the bladder), and this can happen in a number of ways:
- In young girls it may occur when they wipe from back to front, instead of from front to back.
- A woman’s urethra is short and its opening is near the anus, which allows E. coli quick access to the bladder.
- In some women sexual intercourse seems to set the stage for an E-coli invasion. Women who use a diaphragm are more likely to develop a UTI than women who use other forms of birth control. Recently, researchers found that women whose partners use a condom with spermicidal foam also tend to have growth of E. coli bacteria in the vagina.
- Catheters placed in the urethra and bladder often allow invasion of E. coli.
How to prevent a UTI
- Support your immune system by eating an organic, holistic diet including plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.
- Take D-mannose and cranberry extract.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day to dilute bacteria in the urine.
- Urinate when you feel the need; don’t “hold it in.”
- Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria around the anus from entering the vagina or urethra.
- Cleanse the genital area before and after sexual intercourse, and have your partner do the same.
- Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and scented douches, which may irritate the urethra.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods that can further irritate the bladder.
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Manage stress levels by using a stress-reduction technique such as meditation or yoga, or simply set aside 20 minutes a day for yourself.
The natural flow of things
The urinary system is structured to rid the body of waste matter. From the kidneys, urine—which is sterile and usually free of bacteria and viruses, even though it contains waste products—travels down two thin tubes called ureters to the bladder. The ureters are about eight to 10 inches long. Muscles in the ureter walls constantly tighten and relax to force urine downward away from the kidneys.
The ureters and bladder normally prevent urine from backing up toward the kidneys, and the flow of urine from the bladder helps wash bacteria out of the body. The prostate gland in men produces secretions that slow bacterial growth, and immune defenses in both men and women prevent infection.
But despite these safeguards, urinary tract infections are a serious health problem affecting millions of people each year.
Although D-mannose is still relatively unknown in the mainstream medical community, and it has not been tested in human trials, thousands of people who suffer from urinary tract infections swear by its ability to prevent and heal UTIs. Additionally, health practitioners “in the know” have had great results when prescribing it for their patients who have had to resort to antibiotics in the past.
Future research will most likely establish D-mannose as a practical, safe, and effective therapy superior to antibiotics for treating urinary tract infections, and for maintaining urinary tract health.
- Anderson, G. et al. Intracellular Bacterial Biofilm-Like Pods in Urinary Tract Infections. Science Vol 301 4, July 2003.
- Bouckaert J, et. al. Receptor binding studies disclose a novel class of high-affinity inhibitors of the Escherichia coli FimH adhesin.Mol Microbiol. 2005 Jan;55(2):441-55.
- Ofek I, Goldhar J. Eshdat Y, Sharon N. The importance of mannose specific adhesins (lectins) in infections caused by Escherichia coli. Scand J Infect Dis Suppl 1982;33:61-7.
- Michaels EK, Chmiel JS, Plotkin BJ, Schaeffer AJ.Effect of D-mannose and D-glucose on Escherichia coli bacteriuria in rats. Urol Res 1983;11:97–102.
- Azfriri D, et al. Inhibitory activity of cranberry juice on adherence of type 1 and type P fimbriated Escherichia coli to eucaryotic cells. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1989;33:92-8.
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. “Urinary Tract Infections in Adults.”