The bladder and kidneys, which are primary organs of the genitourinary system, are mainly involved in the production and storage of urine. Urine is normally sterile, although pathogenic agents such as bacteria can enter through the urethra and cause bladder and kidney infections. Common symptoms of bladder and kidney infections include low back and pelvic pain, increased frequency of urination, increased body temperature and malaise. Certain herbs have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them effective natural options for fighting or preventing infections of the bladder, kidney and other organs. A convenient way of taking such medicinal herbs is by drinking hot infusions, which are commonly called herbal teas.
Cranberry juice is a common remedy for kidney stones and urinary tract infections due to its acidity, high vitamin C content and antibiotic properties, although cranberry tea is a more dilute version that’s often easier on the stomach, according to the “PDR for Herbal Medicines." Cranberry tea, which is usually made from the berries, stems and leaves, may provide more antioxidants than store-bought cranberry juice. In addition to slowly dissolving calcium deposits in the kidneys, cranberry tea can also help reduce calcification in blood vessels.
Parsley tea has a long history among Native Americans as a natural remedy for a variety of genitourinary complaints including urinary tract, prostate, bladder and kidney infections, according to “Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine.“ Parsley has mild antiseptic and diuretic properties, which increases the rate of urination and helps to flush bacteria and other pathogens from the kidneys and bladder. It’s best to use fresh parsley, including the stems and roots, to make the herbal tea. If you are pregnant, excessive amounts of parsley should be avoided because it’s also a uterine stimulant.
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants that reduce tissue damage inflicted by free radicals and retard the proliferation of many pathogenic microorganisms including bacteria, some viruses and many fungi. It may also prevent bladder cancer in both men and women, according to the “Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Reference: Evidence-based Clinical Reviews.” Green tea is also an astringent and diuretic, which is helpful for infections of the kidney, bladder and urinary tract.
Common Tea Blends
There are many herbal tea blends on the market that are formulated to combat or prevent kidney and bladder infections or dysfunction, although none are recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as being effective cures. As such, always consult your doctor if you experience pain or other symptoms while urinating. Commonly added herbs that display antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and/or diuretic properties include juniper berries, peppermint leaves, dandelion leaves, hydrangea root, uva ursi, horsetail herb, marshmallow root and watermelon seed.
- PDR for Herbal Medicines; PDR Medical Staff
- Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine; Simon Mills and Kerry Bone
- Natural Standard Herb & Supplement Reference: Evidence-based Clinical Reviews; Catherine E. Ulbricht and Ethan M. Basch
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.