Before I go ahead a talk about turmeirc for UTI, let us understand a bot about the disease itself. What we call as ‘urinary / system’ consists of four body parts- kidneys, bladder, ureteres, urethra. In a nutshell it is our body’s liquid waste disposal system. When the urinary tract gets infected with fungi, viruses or bacteria, we develop urinary tract infection (UTI), with bacteria being the most common cause. Depending on the area that is affected, a person can develop urethritis, cystitis or pyelonephritis. Symptoms of UTI include frequent urge to urinate, tiredness, abdominal pain, muscle ache, nausea and vomiting, fever, cloudy or bloody urine, desperate urge to urinate, only small amounts of urine passing out etc. Diabetes, enlarged prostate, certain birth control mechanisms, sexual intercourse with an infected partner, those with spinal cord injuries are some people at risk of contracting UTI.
After diagnosis, UTI is usually treated with antimicrobial or antibiotic medications. Women are more prone to UTI. Treatment can cure most cases unless it becomes chronic and affects the kidneys. A sample of the urine is usually taken to check for the presence of organisms and treatment is given based on this. Drinking plenty of fluids, following a healthy diet, urinating often – especially when the urge arises -, wearing loose fitting clothes and clean cotton underwear can all reduce chances of contracting UTI.
Turmeric & Urinary Tract Infection
It is important to cure UTI completely for otherwise, chances of contracting another one increase with each new episode. Since more people are becoming resistant to various antibiotics, researchers are trying to find alternative treatments for UTI. Curcumin, the yellow key active ingredient of turmeric has also been studied for the same. Turmeric oil extract has been studied for its antibacterial activities that can offer potential benefits in treating UTI. Three fractions of turmeric oil were tested against various bacterial strains and were found to effectively kill these strains.
In another study, curcumin was examined for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It was found to be especially effective in killing strains of E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The former is the cause of most UTI infections. Turmeric is safe to consume and does not cause side effects even if used for long periods. While as with more herbal / natural remedies more studies are required to test its efficacy in treating humans with UTI. The research is promising due to many drug-resistant strains of bacteria appearing.
The main cause of inflammation in the bladder that could lead to infections is NF kappa-B. Several experimental models have found that curcumin is able to inhibit production of NF kappa-B and unlike many anti-inflammatory medications that have toxic side effects, curcumin does not produce any toxicity. When free radicals attack our immune system, we become vulnerable to various infections such as UTI. Since turmeric has antioxidant properties, these can fight free radicals and protect our immune system from contracting infections. Thus, turmeric could help in treating bladder infections like UTI since it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is suggested that supplements that combine turmeric with black pepper or pineapple improve its absorbability.
Turmeric supplements for adults are available as capsules, fluid extracts or tincture. There is no pediatric dosage. The dosage for adults of standardized curcumin powder, often used in capsules, is 400-600mg thrice daily, for cut root it is 1.5-3g daily and fluid extract is 30-90 drops daily. Bromelain is often added to turmeric supplements to improve its anti-inflammatory effects and make it easily absorbable. It is better to include turmeric in regular diet giving body regular dosage to protect against infections and diseases.
Precautions with turmeric
Turmeric spice is safe to consume. High doses taken over long periods could cause side effects like nausea, dizziness and indigestion. Diabetic patients, those with gallbladder problems, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid turmeric. Stop using turmeric supplements 2 weeks before surgery since it can slow blood clotting. Always consult your doctor before taking turmeric for UTI.