Healing Options: Urinary-tract Health (Part 1)

Reprinted from PN June 2002
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Urinary-tract infections (UTIs) can be an aggravating, recurring health problem for individuals with spinal-cord injury/dysfunction (SCI/D). (For a related article, click here.)

In the general population, about 90% of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria, which although a normal part of our intestinal microflora, do not belong in the urinary system. In the case of SCI/D, a diversity of bacteria in addition to E. coli can cause UTIs.

For more than a half century, people with SCI/D have relied on antibiotics to control UTIs. In spite of their clear importance, every time you use antibiotics you short-circuit your body's inherent healing potential, cumulatively compromising your long-term health. You may be winning the immediate healthcare battle, but you are setting yourself up to lose the war.

Furthermore, in spite of commonly held assumptions that bacteria are the "bad guys," optimal health requires that we maintain a symbiotic, health-enhancing partnership with them. Every time we use an antibiotic, we undercut this bacterial partnership. By killing off the "good guys," we create a void that may be filled by health-compromising pathogens or antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have no competition for growth.

Unfortunately, we also face a huge exposure to antibiotic residues through meat and poultry consumption. In this country annually, 25-million pounds of antibiotics (8 x human medicine use) are fed to livestock and poultry, not for therapeutic reasons but to promote economic-efficient growth. By fostering development of resistant bacteria, this practice may ultimately render useless the antibiotics that have been a cornerstone of SCD healthcare.

To reduce your vulnerability to the seemingly inevitable erosion of antibiotic power, when feasible and prudent use various alternatives for enhancing urinary-tract health and attempt to hold in reserve the heavy-duty antibiotic artillery for major medical crises.

Nutritional Approaches

Cranberries? UTI-fighting ability is supported by an ever-growing body of scientific evidence. Although more research is needed on SCI/D-associated UTIs, a recent pilot study (Reid, et al., Spinal Cord, January 2001) indicated that drinking cranberry juice greatly reduced bacterial attachment to cells lining the bladder in subjects with SCI. Promisingly, this was a broad-spectrum, antibacterial effect not limited to merely E. coli, the UTI-causing culprit in the general population.

To avoid excess sugar, consume unsweetened—albeit lip-puckering—cranberry juice, cranberry extract capsules, or naturally sweet blueberries, which scientists have shown contain similar UTI-fighting substances.


Progressive Laboratories (800-527-9512 / markets a variety of UTI-fighters, including cranberry products and Mannoplex, the trade name for D-mannose. Studies suggest that D-mannose is ten times more effective than cranberries in dislodging E. coli bacteria from the bladder wall and, as such, can ameliorate more than 90% of UTIs in 24-48 hours.

D-mannose is a naturally occurring sugar similar in structure to but metabolized differently from glucose (a component of table sugar). Because the body metabolizes only small amounts of D-mannose and excretes the rest in the urine, it doesn't interfere with blood-sugar regulation, even in diabetics. D-mannose does not kill any bacteria, whether they are good or bad, but simply helps displace them.

The above information was provided by S. Laurance Johnston, Ph.D. If you are willing to share your unique UTI strategy with others, e-mail it to


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Healing Options: Urinary-tract Health (Part 1)


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