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Naturopathic Management of Urinary Tract Infections: A Retrospective Chart Review.

  • Garofalo, Luciano1
  • Zwickey, Heather2, 3
  • Bradley, Ryan2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Hanes, Douglas2, 3
  • 1 Department of Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
  • 2 Helfgott Research Institute and National University of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR, USA.
  • 3 School of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, National University of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR, USA.
  • 4 Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 5 Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 6 National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia. , (Australia)
Published Article
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1089/acm.2021.0163
PMID: 34424727


Introduction: Antibiotic overuse is a significant driver of bacterial resistance. Urinary tract infections (UTIs, cystitis) are the most common condition for which antibiotics are prescribed in the ambulatory setting. Many complementary and integrative approaches to cystitis have been proposed, including probiotics, D-mannose, and several herbal therapies. Trials comparing such therapies with placebo or antibiotics showed mixed, but promising, results. Naturopathy is a system of medicine that has potential to avoid antibiotic use for UTI because of its affinity for nonpharmacologic therapies and its theory that infection is a result of both the immune system's vulnerability and the pathogen's virulence. Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective chart review of cases treated at four naturopathic clinics in the Portland, OR, metro area, where naturopathic doctors (NDs) have a scope of practice consistent with their license as primary care providers. The primary aim was to characterize how NDs treat UTIs in a real-world setting. Secondary aims were to gather preliminary evidence on the types of patient cases receiving such treatments, outcomes of treatments, and associations between presentation and treatment prescriptions. Results: The authors found 82 distinct treatment regimens among 103 individual patients diagnosed with UTI. Most patients received a combination of herbal medicine and behavioral modification (e.g., increase fluid intake), whereas the most common monotherapeutic regimen was antibiotics. Of the 43 patients who were followed up, 15 had no success with nonpharmacologic therapies and required antibiotics. The sample was comparable with national data regarding composition of public versus private insurance, acute versus recurrent/chronic UTI, and percent of cases related to uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Conclusions: NDs practicing in a primary care context frequently prescribe antibiotic and nonantibiotic multimodal therapy for uncomplicated UTI. These results may guide future studies testing complementary and integrative therapies for uncomplicated UTI.

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