Most people have had the unfortunate experience of suffering a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point. UTIs can be painful and may affect any part of your urinary system — from your kidneys to your urethra — and vary in severity accordingly. Coconut, a plant that's well known for its nutritional and medicinal properties, can be processed and used to help treat UTIs.
Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs are typically caused by bacteria that find their way into your urinary system and multiply. They're very common, especially for women. The female anatomy, birth control, hormonal changes and sexual activity all contribute to making women more prone to UTIs than men. These infections can occur whenever bacteria like E. coli find their way from the anus to the urethra.
Urinary Tract Benefits of Coconut
The coconut is well known for its nutritional and medicinal properties. These properties, along with its antibacterial activity, make it useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Coconut oil is also used as a carrier oil when using other home remedies, like tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil.
The beneficial components of the coconut are in its healthy fatty acids, which are best retained in products like coconut oil, but also found in electrolyte-rich coconut water. These fatty acids have been shown to have important antifungal and antibacterial properties.
The healthy fatty acids found in coconut products can destroy bacteria like E. coli and P. aeruginosa and fungi like Candida albicans, making them effective not only for UTIs but for food poisoning, stomach ulcers and other types of infections. When your body digests these fatty acids, the resulting products can also help dissolve urethral stones and kidney stones.
Despite its well-established nutritional properties, there's been little focus on the medicinal application of coconut oil. Most studies look at its antibacterial or antifungal properties, not the usefulness of specific products in treatment of specific diseases.
Other studies show that not all coconut products can be used for antimicrobial purposes. A 2013 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that virgin coconut oil was not useful against bacteria like Clostridium difficile, which cause diarrhea, while lipolyzed coconut oil was.
Using Coconut Oil for UTIs
Given the increasing concern about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it's perfectly reasonable to want to find a nonantibiotic UTI treatment. Coconut oil for urinary tract infections can be applied topically to help alleviate symptoms like burning or can be consumed as part of your food.
As your body metabolizes its fatty acids, they can help heal you from the inside out. Regardless of how you use it, coconut oil is unlikely to further aggravate your UTI. However, based on the limited research, coconut oil may not be able to actually help resolve your UTI.
If you're not used to having UTIs, you should consult your doctor before trying any natural remedies. If your UTI symptoms don't resolve themselves after a few days, you should also speak with your doctor, because UTIs can become a serious issue if left untreated.
Read more: 18 Fat-Rich Foods That Are Good for You
Is This an Emergency?
- Mayo Clinic: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine: Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Antimicrobial Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil and Its Medium-Chain Fatty Acids on Clostridium difficile
- Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies: An Overview on Urinary Tract Infections and Effective Natural Remedies