glass jar of coconut oil
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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause uncomfortable symptoms, like frequent urination, burning with urination, and pelvic pain. Traditional treatment involves antibiotics.

Some lifestyle measures may help, including drinking more water to flush out bacteria and drinking cranberry juice to ward off infection.

Coconut oil is another possible alternative remedy. It’s said to contain antimicrobial fatty acids that could help fight infection. Read on to learn more about how it may work, how to use it, and potential side effects.

There isn’t any research specifically on the use of coconut oil to treat UTIs. There is, however, a growing body of information about coconut oil, specifically virgin coconut oil (VCO), and its antimicrobial properties.

Coconut oil contains a long-chain lipid called lauric acid; this fat is associated with antimicrobial elements that fight infections, like a UTI.

In a 2013 study, coconut oil was shown to help fight antibiotic-resistant Clostridium difficile diarrhea. While plain coconut oil didn’t do much to inhibit the growth of the bacteria, the growth did slow when the cells were exposed to 0.15 to 1.2 percent lipolyzed coconut oil.

This isn’t your usual coconut oil, though. The coconut oil used in the study was broken down to make the fatty acids more available to the body. This form of coconut oil isn’t available in stores.

There’s also evidence to suggest that coconut oil may be effective against yeast infections and other fungal infections.

In an older 2009 study on Nigerian women, coconut oil was shown to be active against Candida — particularly drug-resistant Candida. This paper has since been cited in studies focused on coconut oil’s potential use on preterm infants and fighting certain kinds of strep, among other medicinal applications.

Still, most of what you’ll find online about using coconut oil to cure UTIs is anecdotal. More research is needed before this method can be hailed as a tried and true treatment.

There isn’t any research on using coconut oil for UTIs, so there isn’t a standard or preferred method of treatment.

Anecdotal reports suggest it can be used in several ways. For example, you can apply oil topically to the affected area or ingest pure coconut oil. You can also drink coconut water, though it may not have as high a concentration of fatty acids.

If you suspect you have a UTI, it’s best to get checked out by your doctor before trying any alternative remedies. Without medical attention, the infection may lead to recurrent infections or kidney damage.

If you’ve experienced UTIs before and your infection seems mild — or if you’re trying to prevent infection — you may find coconut oil beneficial.

Topical coconut oil

Coconut oil may be placed directly onto the skin for therapeutic purposes. It’s used for anything from dry skin to psoriasis to dermal infections. When using coconut oil for UTIs, you may apply it liberally to the external genital area.

Since a UTI is located in the bladder, using this oil topically won’t necessarily stop the infection. Instead, it helps with external symptoms, like burning.

People who are allergic to coconut shouldn’t try this method. If you don’t know if you’re allergic, try a patch test on your skin.

Patch test

  • Apply a small amount of coconut oil to your forearm
  • Place a bandage over the area and let sit for 24 hours.
  • If you don’t experience any redness or irritation within 24 hours, it should be safe to apply elsewhere.
  • If you do experience irritation within 24 hours, discontinue use and see your doctor if your symptoms persist.
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Oral coconut oil

There isn’t any research specifically on coconut oil and UTIs, so you won’t find doctor-recommended dosages for this treatment. That said, ingesting coconut oil is relatively safe.

Virgin coconut oil that has not been overprocessed is a better choice than nonvirgin coconut oil. Research shows it’s higher in vitamin E and other bioactive ingredients.

Some people suggest taking 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil each day when you’re experiencing symptoms. It may be best to spread the dosage out, so you could try taking 1 tablespoon in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, and 1 in the evening.

You can also eat the oil on a spoon or melt it into a beverage. Coconut oil is an oil often used in cooking.

The oil is made of up to 92 percent saturated fat, and each tablespoon contains around 11 grams of saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat each day to just 13 grams, so you may want to consume it sparingly.

If you’re allergic to coconut, don’t ingest coconut oil.

Drinking coconut water

Coconut water isn’t the same thing as coconut oil, but it comes from the same source and has antimicrobial properties. It’s just, well, watered down.

Coconut water is the liquid inside an immature coconut. People in different parts of the world, like Asia, use coconut water to fight UTIs. The idea here is that coconut water is a natural diuretic, so it helps your body flush out bacteria by urinating more frequently.

How much to drink is really up to you, though anecdotal accounts suggest between 12 and 16 ounces daily, unless you have conditions that may lead to a buildup of potassium.

While there’s little risk associated with drinking coconut water, it might not be the best drink to consume if you’re looking to watch your weight. A cup of coconut water contains around 46 calories.

Some people believe unsweetened cranberry juice may do a better job at fighting UTIs than coconut water, especially when the bacteria involved is E.coli.

Tips and tricks

  • Drink lots of water each day — at least 8 cups. Keeping your body hydrated will help flush bacteria out from your bladder.
  • Stay away from beverages that irritate the bladder. These include coffee, alcohol, soda, citrus juice, and teas containing caffeine.
  • Apply heat to help with bladder pressure and pain.
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There are no risks associated with using coconut oil topically or ingesting the oil.

But if you’re allergic to coconut, you shouldn’t use coconut oil or drink coconut water. Your doctor can suggest a variety of other treatments, including antibiotics, to help relieve your symptoms.

Coconut water is high in potassium. A cup contains around 600 mg. Drinking too much may lead to a buildup of potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia).

As a result, older adults and people with certain health conditions, like heart or kidney disease, may want to speak with their doctor before drinking coconut water.

UTIs are responsible for around 10 million doctor visits each year in the United States. You should make an appointment if your symptoms persist or get worse after a few days.

Other warning signs that the infection may be spreading include:

  • fever
  • back pain
  • vomiting

At your appointment, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and test your urine for bacteria and blood cells. This test will also help determine which type of antibiotics may be most effective against your infection. You should finish all antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

Where do you apply coconut oil for a UTI?

It can be applied directly onto the skin. However, it should only be used on the external genital area.

How do you prevent UTIs?

Frequent sexual activity, menopause, and some types of birth control can lead to an increased risk of UTIs. However, there are some best practices you can abide by to prevent UTIs.

These include:

  • wiping front to back
  • urinating before and after sex
  • not holding your urine and instead going when you have the urge
  • taking probiotics
  • not using scented products down there

What are other natural ways to cure a UTI?

While research is conflicting and more is needed to confirm if and how these methods help treat UTIs, home remedies include upping your vitamin C intake and drinking cranberry juice.

Some more proven home remedies for UTIs include:

  • taking a probiotic
  • drinking plenty of water
  • not holding in your urine

Coconut oil is a natural and harmless treatment for a UTI. It’s still a good idea to check with your doctor about the need for antibiotics or other approaches, as use of coconut oil should not replace medical advice.