As a child, I went through some difficulties with UTI’s. My mom tried cranberry juice, and I have no idea what else, beyond the expected trip to the doctor and rounds of antibiotics.
When I was about ten, we moved to a new area. Over the next few years, we would see lots of new members at the churches my dad pastored. One of these was a man by the name of Vernon Kocher (pronounced like an apple “core”). Vernon was an herbalist, though I don’t think I knew the term at the time. He passed on many a remedy to our family, and I wish like crazy that I had his recipe for cough syrup, just for the memories. That stuff was nasty, but it worked!
The other remedy that stands out for me is parsley tea. I remember mom trying to get me to drink it, and me being none too thrilled about the “swill”. I was a kid. I’d have preferred the bubble-gum flavored antibiotics, thank you very much! But you know what else? It was about that time when my struggles with frequent infections ended. Can I prove one the two things are related? Absolutely not, especially since (redacted) years have gone by since then. But now I know how wise Mr. Kocher would have been to suggest this to my mom for my UTI problems. And I know his concerns about overuse of antibiotics were probably more accurate than he’d have known at the time.
Why Parsley Tea?
It didn’t have to be tea, it could have been parsley in almost any form. Tea was probably the method used most often, because it’s easy. But mom could have been in the kitchen whipping up tabbouleh, green smoothies, or fabulous raw sauces, too! You know, if she’d had unlimited funds, access to ingredients considered exotic at the time, and any idea that a “green smoothie” could exist. “Smoothie” still meant bananas and yogurt back then, folks.
Thankfully, most of us can now get fresh herbs and those “exotic” ingredients at our regular grocer for a reasonable price. Here are some recipes to get you started, though it should be noted that for a UTI, sticking with raw parsley recipes is best. Skip the falafel for now, and try a pesto or salad. Of course, the tea recipe is at the bottom of this page, because I’m cool like that.
How it Works
Basic Good Stuff
First, parsley contains a host of nutrients and micro-nutrients that your body needs in order to stay healthy. It’s got vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, potassium, folic acid, sulfur, vitamin K, and B vitamins 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. It contains a greater concentration of vitamin C than nearly any other vegetable, and most citrus, too. It has double the iron of spinach.
Parsley contains high concentrations of chlorophyll, which acts to cleanse the body. It is also a pre-biotic, helping to support proper bacterial balance in your gut, essential to a healthy immune system. Is is also anti-inflammatory, which can help manage the painful symptoms of a UTI.
Specific Good Stuff for This Problem
Parsley is a diuretic when taken in large quantities. This means that you’ll have to be extra careful to get enough water, because dehydration is almost always bad. But as you drink more and you urinate more frequently, the parsley can be washing out the bad bacteria more effectively. I KNOW it hurts to pee. I promise I do. But you have to. This is how you get better – not through some sort of cleansing pain, but because that’s literally, physically how your body works.
Parsley contains a high percentage of apiol. It can be extracted as an oleoresin, which may sometimes be referred to as an essential oil, though not entirely accurately. Apiol is thought to act as a urinary tract antiseptic. While it is possible to buy apiol as a supplement, using the whole herb promotes better urinary tract health overall. This one component works as part of the whole. (Warning: Apiol is a natural abortificient. See below.)
Are There People Who Shouldn’t Use Parsley?
- Pregnant Women – Parsley is a uterine stimulant and in large quantity can cause harm. It is one of a combination of herbs used since ancient times to cause termination of pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have a UTI, see your doctor or midwife.
- Kidney Disease Sufferers – Parsley can cause a lot of work for the kidneys, and is contraindicated in medicinal doses.
- Diabetics – may use with caution. This herb can cause a dip in blood sugar levels. If you choose to use parsley, check your sugar more frequently and be prepared to make adjustments as necessary. Talk to a knowledgeable herbalist about your specific needs.
Fresh Vs Dried
Fresh parsley generally contains more of the compounds you need for your UTI. It is also far tastier when used in food! But you can use dried parsley to make the tea. If you must. Seriously, parsley is one of the least expensive and most readily available fresh herbs these days, and will make for a better experience, but we know without question that someone, somewhere can’t get it. At least not right now, at 2am in rural Podunk.
If that someone is you, make tea following the directions below, but using one cup of water and one and a half tablespoons of parsley. Steep as directed, and use immediately. This recipe can be scaled up to make in advance, but it takes a lot of dried parsley!
How Do I Use It for a UTI?
Well, I can’t tell you how to use it, but I can tell you what I would do! Make one batch of parsley tea each day. Drink one cup (8 oz) four times a day for seven days. Once the tea has been made, you can keep it in the fridge. My recipe makes enough for one day. You should also avoid boiling the water or tea once the parsley has been added. Some of the beneficial components may be broken down at high heat. If you prefer parsley tea warm, please don’t heat it in the microwave. You might not buy in to the idea that the microwave makes food worthless (me, either), but in this case the uneven heating can risk the breakdown of the stuff you need. Warmed or cold, a squeeze of lemon helps the flavor, and provides a little boost of vitamins!
If you’re adding large amounts of parsley to to your diet, I consider it “enough” if I’m certain I’ve gotten three tablespoons of fresh parsley. Needing four doses per day, it does help if you can change it up a little, but do make sure you’ve getting what you need. Keep using it for the full seven days, unless you have adverse reactions, even if your UTI symptoms subside.
After the seven-day regimen, high-dose parsley should be stopped. Its diuretic properties can be damaging to your mineral levels at a minimum, and hard on your kidneys to boot. Obviously, if your infection worsens or is not alleviated, other treatments may be needed. Work with your doctor, naturalist, or herbalist to ensure infection does not spread or cause permanent damage. Parsley tea should not be used long-term in amounts over one cup per day. Use this type of regimen for acute issues only.
1 quart (4 cups) filtered water
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped*
- Bring water to a boil.
- Remove from heat, and wait for it to cool until the bubbling has stopped.
- Add chopped parsley to hot water.
- Allow to steep 7-10 minutes.
- Strain parsley from tea, being sure to press or squeeze as much of the moisture as you can from the parsley. (If it is fresh and very finely chopped, you may choose to go ahead and drink it all. That’s fantastic! I don’t prefer floaties in my tea.)
- Drink one cup of tea four times daily, warmed or cold. Follow procedure for seven days.
*This is about half of a standard bunch from the grocery store, provided you chop the stems with the leaves. Which you can and should totally do. There is healthy stuff in the stems, and there’s no reason to waste it! Also, you’ll probably have about 3/4 cup chopped parsley once it’s in pieces. Just pack it into the one-cup measure whole, then whatever size you chop, you’ll have the same amount.
I am not a doctor, nor can I diagnose or treat illness by government statute. I use and study home remedies, and support medical freedom. Should you choose to use a home remedy, please do so only after ensuring it is safe for you. Like all medicines, home remedies do not always work for all people. If something doesn’t work for you, seek additional assistance from a doctor or herbalist who is familiar with your needs.