Urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra and multiply in the bladder, causing symptoms such as burning urination, blood in the urine and low back pain. Honey in its many forms has been used as a traditional home remedy for urinary tract infections. Despite a lack of conclusive scientific evidence in its favor, many chronic UTI sufferers recommend it for preventing and treating mild infections.
Honey as an Antibiotic
Honey is a natural food product valued for its antibiotic properties. According to News-Medical.net, honey helps wounds heal faster than some antibiotics and is even capable of killing antibiotic-resistant germs like MRSA. Furthermore, honey doesn't lead to resistance when used repeatedly like antibiotics do, making it a safer, more efficient treatment for certain types of infections.
Honey is believed to draw its antibiotic properties from an the enzyme glucose-oxidase, which is added by bees during the honey-making process. The enzyme ensures the constant formation of hydrogen peroxide—a potent antiseptic—from sugars in the honey.
Honey for Urinary Tract Infections
Honey has several advantages over prescription antibiotics when treating certain infections. Unlike antibiotics, it doesn't harm beneficial bacteria in the body or cause unwanted side effects such as yeast infections, diarrhea or nausea. It is cheap, readily available and shows no evidence of reduced efficacy over time. Finally, honey has sound scientific evidence demonstrating its effectiveness against several strains of bacteria, some of which are antibiotic-resistant.
However, the risks involved in using honey to treat a UTI are significant and may outweigh any potential benefits. While honey is an effective treatment for burns and skin infections when applied topically, there is no evidence supporting its efficacy in treating urinary tract infections. It is not safe for children under 1 year of age and may cause allergic reaction in those allergic to bee stings and pollen. A urinary tract infection can progress to kidney infection quickly if not properly treated, which can lead to kidney failure and even death. What's more, UTI and kidney infection symptoms are often similar, making timely and proper medical care all the more important in preventing possible complications.
Prevention and Symptom Management
The only proven cure for a urinary tract infection is treatment with prescription antibiotics. Still, there are ways you can help prevent a UTI or relieve symptoms with home remedies.
Manuka honey is often used to treat H. pylori bacteria in the stomach and is the only kind of honey shown to have internal antibacterial effects. To use this remedy as a preventive measure, mix 4 drops cinnamon essential oil with 1 tbsp. Manuka honey, stir and consume with meals up to three times daily.
Cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar and other highly acidic substances such as vitamin C help flush UTI-causing bacteria from the bladder walls, making them a viable preventive measure or adjunct to antibiotic treatment. Other popular remedies for UTI include the over-the-counter medications methenamine and phenazopyridine, the herb uva ursi and the B-complex vitamins.