A urinary tract infection affects as many as 8 million people every year, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. This type of infection is caused when bacteria breach the layers of the urinary tract and immune system, infiltrating the ureters and bladder. Urinary tract infections are generally treated with the use of antibiotics, however, these medications kill both good and bad bacteria indiscriminately. Some dietary supplements, including herbs and spices, may help reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections or help your body fight the bacteria that cause them. Check with your physician before using any herbal supplement.
Urinary Tract Infections
Women are more likely than men to contract a urinary tract infection and, according to the NKUDIC, the risk of getting another urinary tract infection increases with each one you experience. This appears to be caused by mutations in the genes of the bacteria, making each successive generation resistant to increasing numbers of antibiotics. A urinary tract infection may or may not present with symptoms, however, if symptoms are present, they generally include urinary frequency and urge, painful urination, and general discomfort in the area around the bladder.
Turmeric is an herb that is related to ginger and is commonly found in foods like curry. Additionally, turmeric is used in naturopathic treatments for inflammation and digestive problems, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Turmeric has also been found to kill viruses and bacteria, however, these findings have only been confirmed in test tubes and not human subjects. Turmeric is available at your local grocery store in powder form and as a capsule, tea or extract at your local health food store.
Turmeric and Urinary Tract Infection
Turmeric contains a naturally occurring substance called curcumin, which is responsible for the yellow color of the herb. A 1999 study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" found that curcumin was effective in killing a variety of strains of bacteria. Additionally, a 2009 article published in the journal "Food Chemistry" found that the antibacterial action of curcumin was effective in killing both Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli bacteria, which commonly causes UTI. More research is needed to determine whether the antibacterial properties of curcumin and turmeric are applicable to infections in humans. Turmeric, however, is considered safe for human consumption as a natural flavoring and coloring for food.
Points to Consider
As a supplement in capsule, tea or extract forms, turmeric may help reduce inflammation caused by urinary tract infections. This herb may also provide some antibacterial benefits against infections, although research to support this use in humans has not yet been performed. Turmeric, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, is also an antioxidant compound, which reduces the destruction of cells caused by byproducts of metabolism called free radicals. If you are currently taking anticoagulant medications or have a blood clotting disorder, check with your doctor before using turmeric, which has natural blood-thinning properties. Turmeric may also interfere with the effectiveness of diabetes medications and antacids.
Is This an Emergency?
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Urinary Tract Infections in Adults
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Antibacterial Activity of Turmeric Oil: A Byproduct From Curcumin Manufacture
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- Food Chemistry: Antioxidant, Antimutagenic and Antibacterial Activities of Curcumin-β-Diglucoside