Ginger for UTI: is it any good? The evidence based look!

Ginger for UTI: is it any good? The evidence based look!
January 20, 2021 at 6:39 AM

Ginger. It’s great on sushi, but who knew it could be such a powerful treatment for all sorts of ailments? After all, we’ve all enjoyed a steaming cup of ginger tea at some point to cure tummy troubles.

Contents

  1. What is UTI?
  2. What is in Ginger?
  3. Ginger vs UTI
  4. Side Effects and Risks
  5. How to Add Ginger to Your Diet
  6. The Bottom Line

Slice it, steep it, sprinkle it, or swallow it, ginger can help you live a healthier life.

And if you suffer from UTIs, this spicy little root could be just what the doctor ordered.

What is UTI?

Urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a common infection that typically affects women and the elderly. However, men do get UTIs as well. It occurs when there is a build up of bacteria in the urinary tract. This means they can affect the urethra as well as the bladder. Infections that reach the kidneys are considered more serious and may require medical attention.

Around 11% of women and about 20% of women age 65 and older in the United States have a UTI. Experts believe that as may as 60% of adult women will experience the condition at least once in their life (1).

The prevalence of UTI in men you are younger than 50 years of age is as much as 8 per 10,000 each year (2). 

As men age beyond 50, that number increases to as many as 14,000 per 100,000 adult males.

In men and women under the age of around 60, symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain (women)
  • Rectal pain (men)
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Increased urination or urge to urinate
  • Inability to urinate even if you feel the urge
  • Strong or foul smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Very dark colored urine
  • Blood in the urine

When the infection involves the kidneys, symptoms may be:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Back pain

In the elderly, UTIs can be more serious. In addition to typical UTI symptoms, including fever and chills, can also cause:

  • Confusion
  • Increase risk of fall
  • Loss of coordination
  • Delirium
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusual behavioral changes

While there are several medications available to treat UTIs they often come with undesirable side effect. This makes natural remedies and preventatives very appealing, especially to individuals who have infections on a regular basis.

Ginger, a robust root with a number of medicinal applications, is a popular treatment for UTIs.

What is in Ginger?

Ginger is the root of a flowering perennial that originated in Maritime Southeast Asia. It is in the same family as cardamom and turmeric and has many of the same anti-inflammation properties. The hardy little plant is now grown all over the world with many people potting it and keeping it in their homes.

Throughout history ginger has been a staple of both spice trades and ancient medicine. It is believed to be one of the first spices that was ever exported from Asia to Europebut was also used by ancient Romans and Greeks.

Today ginger is used for candy, pickles, soda, to season food, and as a medicine, it has a number of applications but many lack substantial scientific backing. Some of the more common ways that people use ginger include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Morning sickness
  • Inflammation in the body
  • High blood pressure

Ginger can be taken as a tea, tincture, powder, capsule supplement, and freshly grated. The oil of the root can be used in aromatherapy and some topical applications.

Ginger vs UTI

Researchers have found that ginger can be effective against UTI as both a preventative and a remedy for an active infection.

In one report, urinary tract infections caused by E. coli bacteria were resistant to the typical antibiotic therapy (3). However, when certain plant oils which included ginger, were introduced they were more effective in treating the infection. Ginger and thyme extracts worked the best to provide relief and eliminate the infection.

Another study showed that alcoholic extract of ginger has a potent antimicrobial impact on E. coli in a urinary tract infection (4).

A study published in 2003 explored the use of ginger in treating various health issues (5).

They tested 13 human pathogens and ginger proved to be a very powerful antifungal agent. It was suggested that it could be used in practical therapy.

A 2009 report in the American Journal of Applied Sciences found ginger extract to be a powerful antifungal and a potentially effective treatment for candidiasis (6).

A report published in 2014 in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology concluded that ginger could be a safe, effective treatment for urinary tract infections as well as increasing immunity (7).

With science to back up the claims and many naturopaths recommending ginger as a treatment for a number of conditions, UTI among them, it is safe to say that for many people it could be a viable treatment. Even medical doctors are recognizing the potent properties of this multipurpose spice and are recommending it to their patients for UTI and other health issues.

Side Effects and Risks

Ginger can have some side effects which are typically associated with overuse or exceeding around 1500 mg per day or people who are sensitive to it. In rare cases a person may have an allergy to ginger which can cause some problems.

For the majority of the population though, ginger is completely safe and can be used in moderation with little or no ill effects. Any minor side effects typically decrease or disappear after several uses and the body adjusts to it.

Some of the more common side effects of using ginger in large quantities include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset or discomfort
  • Heartburn
  • Burping
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Skin irritation (topical application)
  • Mouth irritation
  • Heavier menstrual period

These are some less common side effects of ginger. If you experience any of these symptoms contact your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Bleeding or increased risk of bleeding
  • Slower blood clotting
  • Easy bruising
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Worsening of heart condition
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Decrease in blood sugar

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction to a substance. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. Signs of an allergic reaction to ginger include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the tongue, lips, throat, and face
  • Difficulty swallowing

Ginger can interact with certain medications. If you are taking any of these prescription drugs you should talk to your doctor before adding ginger to your diet in any way.

Medications that may cause a moderate interaction include:

  • Anticoagulant drugs
  • Antiplatelet drugs
  • Phenprocoumon
  • Warfarin or Coumadin
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Heparin
  • Clopidogre
  • Diclofenac
  • Naproxen
  • Dalteparin
  • Enoxaparin

Drugs that may cause a minor interaction include:

  • Diabetes medications
  • Calcium Channel Blockers for hypertension
  • Glimepiride
  • Glyburide
  • Insulin
  • Pioglitazone
  • Rosiglitazone
  • Chlorpropamide
  • Glipizide
  • Tolbutamide
  • Nifedipine
  • Verapamil
  • Diltiazem
  • Isradipine
  • Felodipine
  • Amlodipine

Ginger is deemed “possibly safe” for pregnant women to take orally as a medicine.

There is some controversy about it though.

Some researchers have linked excessive use of ginger to miscarriage in early pregnancy.

However, the majority of studies that involve pregnant women suggest that ginger, when used in moderation, is safe for pregnant women and their unborn children and may easy morning sickness.

Some doctors do advise stopping the use of ginger in the weeks before the woman’s due date because of the risk of bleeding.

If you are pregnant and would like to take ginger you should talk to your doctor to make sure he or she is on board and feels it is a safe option for you.

How to Add Ginger to Your Diet

There are so many ways to add ginger to your diet.

One of the most common is ginger tea.

You can use a prepared tea bag and steep in hot water (not boiling) for about 7 minutes.

Alternatively, you can cut and peel a couple of pieces of fresh ginger and drop them into hot water.

Let it steep for seven to ten minutes.

Add your favorite sweetener like honey, monk fruit, or sucanat.

Grate fresh ginger over your chicken, lamb, fish, or vegetables for a nice spicy kick.

To retain the flavor, add it at the end of cooking so its exposure to the heat is minimal.

If you are creating a dish around ginger then you can cook it into the sauce or food you are preparing, just limit its direct contact to heat.

In other words, you don’t want it to directly touch the hot pan.

Ginger jam is great on toast, oatmeal, and other treats.

Combine equal parts of sliced fresh ginger and water (i.e., 1 cup water and 1 cup ginger) in a blender.

Puree although it will not be smooth due to ginger’s fibrous texture.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and add an equal part of sugar, sucanat, monk fruit, or muscovado (i.e., if you have 1 cup ginger and 1 cup water then add 1 cup sugar).

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pod of cardamom (optional), and ½ teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon (optional).

Heat the mixture over medium high flame and allow to thicken.

Pour into canning jars and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Add some ginger to your butter for a nice little zing.

You can add some honey, monk fruit, or stevia for a little sweetness.

If you are into to butter coffee, this will change the world for you!

Qishr is a coffee drink that is a traditional Yemeni drink.

It is served hot.

It is lighter that typical coffee but has a delicious, spicy flavor.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine 1 cup water, 5 to 6 teaspoons of extra fine grind coffee, 4 teaspoons sweetener (sugar, sucanat, monk fruit, or muscovado), 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger, ½ teaspoon Vietnamese (Saigon) cinnamon, 1 pod cardamom pod.

Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat.

When the coffee stops bubbling, return it to the heat and bring it to a boil again.

Repeat the process two to three more times until it is of desired strength.

If you don’t want to add the cinnamon and/or the cardamom, you can leave it out of your coffee.

You can also add ginger to a smoothie, add it to your baked treats, steep it in water with some lemon for a refreshing drink, and try it in soup. It is a very versatile spice that goes great with so many foods. Try a few and see what works for you.

Many people enjoy pickled ginger on sushi, but you can add it to other dishes as well. It really perks up a sleepy fish dish and can make a lamb roast come to life. And if you’re really daring you can eat it right out of the jar. Spicy!

Of course, there’s always ginger supplements in capsule form, but where’s the fun in that? You’ll miss out on all the deliciousness that this wondrous root has to offer. Before you go that route, give some of these recipes a try or get creative and make your own.

The Bottom Line

Ginger is an incredibly versatile spice that can enhance the flavor of your food while enhancing your health and helping you stay free from urinary tract infections.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

While more trials need to be run to fully vet it as a viable natural remedy, there is still a lot of science behind it to support the many claims that it works.

Add to that the many, many people who tout its effectiveness for not only UTI, but a wide array of conditions and ailments.

When you take ginger, up to about 1500 mg, each day you may boost your immunity and actually prevent UTIs.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional and see if ginger would be a good addition to your diet.

Start slow.

Perhaps have a cup of ginger tea before bedtime or put a dash of ginger in your morning coffee.

Then add some grated ginger to some of your favorite foods.

It’s easy to incorporate ginger into your daily life.

With a little imagination and a love for great taste, you can transform your regular dishes into delectable, spiced creations that are good for your health.

What a great reason to add a little spice to your life!

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Physician
Image resources:

Canva.com

Published: January 20, 2021 at 6:39 AM
Next scheduled update: January 20, 2023 at 6:39 AM
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