Antibiotic Alternatives

Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness. Here’s how to fight five common bacterial infections before resorting to them, plus how to make the best of it if you must.

Antibiotic Alternatives
Pin it Kana Okada

Try nettle leaf tincture “Nettle is an excellent remedy for UTIs,” says Crain. “Its leaves act like a diuretic, so they help to flush bacteria out of the bladder and keep them from rising to the kidneys.” Furthermore, “nettle’s chlorophyll decreases inflammation in the urinary tract.” BEST BUY Wise Woman Herbals Urtica spp. [Aerial] (Stinging Nettle) Liquid Extract ($11 and up;

Drink unsweetened cranberry or blueberry juice “Research shows that drinking 32 ounces of cranberry juice daily can treat UTIs,” says Blumenthal. “Its anthocyanidins help prevent E. coli [the bacteria responsible for most UTIs] from adhering to the urinary tract.” The anthocyanidins in blueberries are similarly antibacterial, he adds. BEST BUY R.W. Knudsen Family Just Cranberry or Just Blueberry ($7;

Take uva ursi “This herb can be used to disinfect UTIs,” says Blumenthal, since active compounds like arbutin keep bacteria—74 strains to be exact—from replicating. In a Swedish study, women who took uva ursi for one month never got another UTI that year, while 1 in 5 placebo-poppers did. BEST BUY Nature’s Way Uva Ursi Standardized Extract ($14; Take two capsules two times daily.

Brew plantain seed tea “This TCM remedy dries, cools and reduces infl ammation specifi cally in the bladder, so it’s harder for bacteria to thrive there,” says Crain. “It also contains acubin, a compound that’s been shown to kill E. coli.” Like nettle, plantain seeds are a diuretic, helping to prevent a UTI from escalating into a kidney or blood infection. BEST BUY Boil one cup of water, remove from heat, then steep 1 to 2 teaspoons plantain seeds ($3; for 15 to 20 minutes; drink frequently.