Woman holding lower abdomen to represent cystitis

Cystitis support: natural relief

Don’t let cystitis spoil your summer plans. Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke shares some natural remedies that can help to solve the problem.

Whether watching or participating in a hot weather sport, partying at a festival or escaping to some exotic location, summer is packed with fun-filled activities. Sometimes, however, our enjoyment can be marred by a medical blip such as cystitis, which has an annoying habit of rearing its ugly head when we are relaxed and in the mood for fun.

There are many over-the-counter remedies, but if you prefer a more natural approach there are plenty of natural alternatives in the herbal medicine chest.


This type of sugar, which is related to glucose, has been shown to significantly reduce the recurrence of urinary tract infections in clinical trials. It appears to work by preventing bacteria adhering to the wall of the bladder and causing infection[i].


Drinking (ideally unsweetened) cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets may help prevent attacks. It is thought that its benefits are down to particular polyphenols called proanthocyanidins (PACs) found in the ruby red berries. They work in a similar way to D mannose by a process known as anti-adhesion, which stops bad bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract’s walls[ii].


Certain strains of probiotics may help prevent cystitis. Although probiotics are not usually used to treat cystitis there is good evidence to suggest they may help prevent recurring attacks[iii]. Look out for specific probiotic combinations for cystitis available in good health food shops.


Stay hydrated

If temperatures start to soar make sure to drink plenty of water. Your urine should be the colour of champagne – any darker is a sign that you need to up your fluid intake.

Avoid excess alcohol

Cold beer and Prosecco may seem like perfect hot weather thirst quenchers, but always drink water between alcoholic drinks. Remember too that alcohol is often high in sugar, which can increase your risk of cystitis, as bacteria are attracted to sugar.

Avoid citrus juices

These can irritate the bladder.

Wear cotton underwear

Non-breathable materials such as nylon can cause problems. Try to wear cool loose-fitting clothes, too.

Take care on planes

Long plane journeys can be a problem, as we often forget to drink enough fluids while in the air Also in-flight loos may not be the most enticing places but try to visit them at least once an hour.

NOTE: If you are suffering from cystitis and it doesn’t respond to treatment, or if you start to experience other symptoms such as back pain and fever, see a doctor as soon as you can.


[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2363312

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22961092

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827601


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