Urinary System Herbal Protocol


Illness/ Disease Definition

From David Hoffman’s Medical Herbalism book:

Acute or chronic infection of the urinary bladder.

Etymology (terms)

  • Bacteriuria-  bacteria in urine
  • Dysuria- discomfort, pain, or burning when urinating
  • Pyuria- pus in urine

Etiology (causes)

  • Female Gender
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Chemical Factors
  • Retention of Urine
  • Oral Contraceptives
  • Antibiotics
  • Stress
  • Bacteria in urethra


Acute urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect at least 15% of women at some point in their lives.  UTIs are about 20 times more common in women than in men and can occur at any age, though more common in the reproductive years.

Allopathic Treatments

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Variety of drugs to relieve symptoms such as frequent, insistent urges to urinate, painful urination, muscle spasms, pain relief. 
  • In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve a physical obstruction to urine flow or to correct a structural abnormality.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Urinary frequency
  • Dysuria
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Pain and tenderness in lower abdomen
  • Unpleasant smelling urine
  • Pyuria
  • Bacteriuria

Body Systems Affected

  • Urinary
  • Immune
  • Digestive
  • Reproductive
  • Cardiovascular (if infection reaches bloodstream)

Actions Needed

Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Demulcent (if pain or discomfort), Diuretic

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antiseptic, Astringent, Demulcent, Diuretic, Tonic (Urinary)
Agathosma betulina
Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antiseptic (Urinary), Aromatic, Carminative, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Stimulant, Stomachic, Tonic, Uterine Stimulant
Zea mays
Anti-inflammatory, Choleretic, Demulcent, Diuretic, Hypotensive, Purgative, Stimulant (Mild), Tonic
Galium aparine
Alterative, Antibiotic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Aperient, Astringent, Detoxifying, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Hypotensive, Laxative (Mild), Styptic, Tonic (Lymphatic & Urinary), Vulnerary
Achillea millefolium
Anti-hemorrhagic, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antipyretic, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Bitter, Carminative, Choleretic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Hemostatic, Hepatic, Hypotensive, Peripheral Vasodilator, Styptic, Tonic (Urinary & Vascular), Vulnerary
Althaea officinalis
Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Demulcent, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Hypoglycemic, Laxative (Mild), Tonic
Elymus repens
Antibiotic, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Demulcent, Diuretic, Kidney Tonic, Urinary Tonic
Angelica archangelica
Anti-inflammatory, Antirheumatic, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Aromatic, Astringent, Carminative, Cholagogue, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Stimulant, Stomachic, Tonic, Vulnerary, Warming
Arctium lappa
Alterative, Antibacterial, Antibiotic, Antifungal, Antifurunculous, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, Antipyretic, Antiseptic, Antitumor, Aperient, Bitter, Cholagogue, Demulcent, Detoxifying, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Hepatoprotective, Hypoglycemic, Tonic (Digestive)
Vibernum prunifolium
Antispasmodic, Astringent, Hypotensive, Nervine, Sedative, Tonic (Uterine), Uterine Relaxant
Valeriana officinalis
Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Calmative, Carminative, Emmenagogue, Hypnotic (Strong Musculoskeletal), Hypotensive, Nervine, Relaxant, Sedative, Stomachic
Equisetum arvense
Antibiotic, Anti-inflammatory, Astringent, Cooling, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Hemostatic, Styptic, Tonic (Kidney), Vulnerary


  • Infusion:  
    • Fresh yarrow.  Drink often
    • 1 part Burdock, 1 part Cleavers, 1 part Yarrow.
    • 2 part Marshmallow, 2 part Cornsilk, 2 part Couchgrass, 2 part Horsetail, 2 part Bearberry, and 1 part Buchu.  Add 1 teaspoon to 1 cup boiling water.  Infuse for 10-15 minutes.  Drink hot 4-5 times a day.
  • Tincture:
    • 2 part Bearberry, 2 part Cornsilk, and 1 part Buchu.  Take 5mL 3 times a day
    • 2 part Marshmallow, 2 part Couchgrass, 2 part Bearberry, 2 part Cornsilk, 1 part Angelica, and 1 part Buchu.  Take 5mL 3 times a day.
    • Cystitis with Pain: 2 part Cornsilk, 2 part Bearberry, 1 part Black Haw, and 1 part Valerian.  Take 5mL 3 times a day.


  • Angelica- Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. During use, avoid prolonged sunbathing and strong exposure to UV radiation. May interfere with anticoagulant therapy. Do not use if you have diabetes. Do not use if taking blood thinners.
  • Bearberry- Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. Not a suitable remedy if there is a simultaneous infection of the kidneys or kidney disease. Unsuitable for children under 12. Do not use if you are taking diuretics. It is generally advisable to take no longer than 7-10 days at a time to avoid stomach distress and chronic poisoning.
  • Black Haw- Do not use if taking blood thinners or if you are allergic to aspirin.
  • Buchu- Do not use if you have kidney infection, kidney disease, or a liver disorder. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use if taking blood thinners. Using buchu volatile oil can result in liver damage or kidney inflammation and dysfunction.
  • Burdock- May cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to plants in the Asteraceae family. Do not use if taking insulin or other drugs for diabetes. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Cleavers- Do not use if diabetic.
  • Couchgrass- Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. May cause ergot poisoning.
  • Horsetail- Horsetail contains nicotine- excessive doses can lead to symptoms of nicotine poisoning. Do not use while taking diuretics or nervous system stimulants (such as nicotine replacement products. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. Keep this herb out of reach of children and pets.
  • Marshmallow- Do not use if you take insulin. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Valerian- Large doses may cause liver damage- do not use if you have liver disease.  Do not use if taking Antabuse or CNS Depressants or alcohol.  Avoid use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Yarrow- Do not use if pregnant or breast-feeding.   Long term use can lead to photosensitivity and rashes.  Use with caution if you’re drinking alcohol, taking CNS depressants, Antabuse, blood thinners,  or drugs that lower blood pressure.

Recommendations for Diet and Lifestyle

  • Diet:
    • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice
    • Increase intake of water to at least 8 to 12 glasses per day
    • Decrease consumption of alkaline foods, such as dairy products, citrus juices, and sodas
    • Eat a light diet of grains, some vegetables, and specific acidifying juices
    • Eliminate bladder irritants such as coffee, black tea, chocolate, and alcohol
    • Discontinue intake of all high-sugar foods, including sweet vegetables and fruits, sugar, and honey
  • Supplements:
    • Vitamin A: 25,000 IU/day
    • Vitamin C (as calcium ascorbate): 500 mg every 2 hours
    • Zinc: 30 mg/day
    • Avoid vitamins containing aspartate which will irritate the bladder
  • Lifestyle Recommendations:
    • Avoid using tampons.
    • Discontinue use of contraceptive diaphragms, oral contraceptives, and other chemicals used in the vaginal area
    • Discontinue use of deodorant soaps

References & Resources:

A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve.

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH

Foundations of Medicinal Herbalism, Teresa Boardwine RH.

Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman, FNIMH

The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition, Robert Berkow, M.D. & Mark H. Beers, M.D. & Andrew J. Fletcher, M.B., B.Chir. , 1997.

The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines, Charles W. Fetrow, Pharm.D. & Juan R. Avila, Pharm.D.

The Herb Book, John Lust.

The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, Daniel B, Mowrey, Ph.D.