Although it often features as a subject of humor urine and the urinary tract plays a vital role in flushing waste products out of the bloodstream and maintaining good health. Unsurprisingly, what you drink and eat can play an important role in maintaining good urinary tract health and prevent future urinary problems.

In the following excerpt from Secret Food Cures by Joan and Lydia Wilen the authors share some of their favorite natural remedies for urinary problems and maintaining good urinary tract health.


The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Many of the remedies in this section are helpful for more than one condition. Therefore, most of the bladder and kidney ailments (infections, stones, inflammation, etc.) are bunched together. We suggest you read them all in order to determine the most appropriate one(s) for your specific problem.

CAUTION: Urinary infections, kidney stones and inflammation of the bladder and kidneys are serious conditions that should be evaluated by a health professional.

Natural Remedies

With your doctor’s approval, here are some worth-a-try remedies that may help to ease your condition.

• Drink plenty of fluids, including parsley tea—three to four cups a day. If you have a juicer, one or two glasses of parsley juice drunk each day, should prove quite beneficial. Also, sprinkle fresh parsley on the foods you eat. You may start to see improvements in a mere three days or up to three weeks.

• Onions are a diuretic and will help to cleanse your system. So eat fresh onions often. Also, for kidney stimulation, apply a poultice of grated or finely chopped onions externally to the kidney area—on your back, just under the rib cage.

• Pure cranberry juice (no sugar or preservatives added) has been known to help relieve kidney and bladder infections.

Dose: Drink six ounces of room-temperature cranberry juice three times a day.

It’s the Tops!

• Carrot tops and celery tops are tops in strengthening the kidneys and bladder. In the morning, cover a bunch of scrubbed carrot tops with 12 ounces of boiled water and let them steep. Drink four ounces of the carrot-top water before each meal. After each meal, eat a handful of scrubbed celery tops.

Within five weeks, there should be a noticeable and positive difference in the kidneys and bladder.

• Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and good for strengthening the bladder muscle. Dose: Eat one palmful (about one ounce) of unprocessed (unsalted) shelled pumpkin seeds three times a day.

• According to some Native Americans, corn silk (the silky strands beneath the husk of corn) is a cure-all for urinary problems. The most desirable corn silk is from young corns, gathered before the silk turns brown.

Take a handful of corn silk and steep it in three cups of boiled water for five minutes. Strain and drink the three cups throughout the day. Corn silk can be stored in a glass jar, not refrigerated.

If you can’t get corn silk, use corn silk extract, available at most health food stores. Add 10 to 15 drops of the extract to a cup of water.

Bed-Wetting and Nighttime Urination

Frequent nighttime urination, known as nocturia, is a common but often-overlooked medical problem. To most people, a mild case— waking a few times a night—is bothersome, but not a reason to see a doctor.

But ignoring even mild nocturia is a mistake. Our kidneys and bladder are designed to retain urine during an eight-hour sleep. If you wake to urinate more than twice a night, consider these suggestions…

WARNING: Hypertension, diabetes, prostate problems, stroke, kidney disease and, in some cases, a tumor in the bladder can cause nocturia. Get a thorough physical, including a urinalysis to check for a bladder infection.

• Cut back on beverages. Certain beverages have a diuretic effect that can lead to nighttime urination—coffee, black or green tea, alcohol, caffeinated soda and herbal teas containing dandelion, burdock, linden, nettle or parsley. Abstain from these beverages after 6:00 p.m., and limit your total fluid intake after dinner to 12 ounces of water or a nondiuretic, non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile or peppermint.

• In people with allergies or certain medical conditions, including benign prostatic hyperplasia and interstitial cystitis, inflammation is the cause of nocturia. Quercetin, a strong antioxidant, decreases inflammation and inhibits cell damage in the kidneys. Cranberries and other dark red or purple berries, such as blueberries and raspberries, contain a good amount of quercetin. Eat one cup of fresh berries every day, or take a 500-mg quercetin supplement twice daily with meals.

• Get tested for food allergies. Food allergens act as irritants, so your body tries to eliminate them quickly through a variety of mechanisms, including urination.

• Just when you may have thought that nothing could help, heeeeeere’s uva ursi! This herb is said to help strengthen the urinary tract and, taken in small doses, has been known to end bed-wetting. Add one tablespoon of dried uva ursi leaves or one tea bag to one cup of just-boiled water and steep for five minutes. Strain into a jar.

Dose: Take one tablespoon before each meal every day for six weeks. (Uva ursi is available at health food stores.)

NOTE: Arbutin, the main component of the herb uva ursi, may cause the urine to turn brownish in color. It’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

WARNING: We do not list this as a children’s bed-wetting remedy because none of our sources mentioned it for use by children. Uva ursi may be too strong for their delicate systems.


To stimulate urination, try any of the following foods in moderation, using good common sense and listening to your body…

◆ Celery: Cooked in chicken soup or raw in salads.

◆ Watercress: Soup or salads.

◆ Leek: A mild diuretic in soup, it’s much stronger when eaten raw, and a perfect opening for a cheap joke about urination.

◆ Parsley: Used in soups, salads, juices or as a tea.

◆ Asparagus: Raw or cooked, or as a tea.

◆ Cucumber: Raw.

◆ Corn silk: Tea.

◆ Onions: Raw in salads and/or sliced to rub on your loins (hips, groin and lower abdomen). (Yes, you read that correctly.)

◆ Horseradish: Grate 1 ⁄2 cup of horseradish and boil it with 1 ⁄2 cup of beer. Drink this concoction three times a day.

◆ Watermelon: Eat a piece first thing in the morning and do not eat any other foods for at least two hours.


Any problems with incontinence should be evaluated by a health professional. But, until you get treated, these remedies may help.

• Direct the stream of water from an ordinary garden hose onto the soles of the feet for up to two minutes. It has been known to reduce urinary incontinence, particularly in older people. It also helps circulation in the feet.

Bully for Buchu

This remedy comes from the Hottentot tribe of South Africa, where buchu shrubs grow. Steep one tablespoon of buchu leaves (available at health food stores) in one cup of just-boiled water for a half-hour.

Dose: Take three to four tablespoons, three to four times a day. Buchu leaves are known to be helpful for many urinary problems, including inflammation of the bladder and painful urination, as well as incontinence.

Frequent Urination

• Cherry juice or cranberry juice (no sugar or preservatives added) has been said to help regulate the problem of constantly having to urinate.

Dose: Drink three to four glasses of cherry or cranberry juice throughout the day. Be sure it’s room temperature, not chilled.

NOTE: Persistent frequent urination may be a sign of a urinary tract infection or diabetes and should be checked by a health professional.

Kidney Problems

•Lots of folk remedies include the use of apple cider vinegar to help flush the kidneys and to provide a natural acid. Dosage varies from source to source.

We think it makes the most sense to take one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for every 50 pounds you weigh, and add it to six ounces of drinking water.

In other words, if you weigh 150 pounds, the dosage would be three teaspoons of vinegar in six ounces of water. Drink this twice a day, before breakfast and before dinner. Keep it up for two days, then stop for four days. Continue this two-days-on/four-days-off cycle as long as you feel you need it.

Aduki Dukes It Out

Aduki (or azuki) beans, which can be found in health food stores, are used in the Orient as food and medicine. They’re excellent for treating kidney problems.

Rinse a cupful of aduki beans. Combine the cup of beans with five cups of water and boil them together for one hour. Strain the aduki-bean water into a jar. Drink 1 ⁄2 cup of aduki water at least a half-hour before meals. Do this for two days—six meals.

To prevent the aduki water from spoiling, keep the jar in the refrigerator, then warm the water before drinking.

• Our gem therapist friend recommends wearing jade against the skin to help heal kidney problems. If your mate reads this and surprises you with a piece of jade jewelry, chances are you’ll start to feel better immediately.

Kidney Stones

• According to a good old medical book called The Elements of Materia Medica (edited in 1854), asparagus was a popular remedy for kidney stones. It is said that asparagus acts to increase cellular activity in the kidneys and helps break up oxalic acid crystals.

Dose: Eat 1 ⁄2 cup of cooked and blended or puréed asparagus before breakfast and before dinner, or boil one cup of asparagus in two quarts of water and drink a cup of the asparagus water four times a day.

NOTE: After eating asparagus, you may notice that your urine has an unusual smell. There are a few scientific theories as to what causes that specific smell. In 1891, the experiments of Polish doctor and chemist Marceli Nencki led him to conclude that the scent is due to a metabolite called methanethiol. This odoriferous chemical is said to be produced as the body metabolizes asparagus. Some say that the smell is a sign of kidney-bladder cleansing—others believe it indicates faulty secretion of gastric hydrochloric acid (HCL)

• A respected French herbalist recommends eating almost nothing but strawberries for three to five days. This is believed to relieve the pain of kidney stones.

• A high level of oxalate in the urine contributes to the formation of most (calcium) kidney stones. If this problem runs in your family, or if you’ve already gone through the agony of a kidney stone, chances are you’ll need to take every precaution to help prevent it from happening to you once…or again.

Completely eliminate, or at least limit, your intake of the foods and beverages that are high in oxalates or that can produce oxalic acid. These include caffeine—coffee, black tea (including orange pekoe), cocoa, chocolate— spinach, sorrel, beets, Swiss chard, parsley, dried figs, poppy seeds, rhubarb, lamb’s-quarters, purslane, nuts and pepper.

• Eat foods that are rich in vitamin A, the vitamin that can help discourage the formation of stones. These include apricots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and cantaloupe.

CAUTION: Any sudden or dramatic change of diet should be supervised by a health professional. And always thoroughly wash produce to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

• Start your day by drinking a glass of (distilled, if possible) water in which you squeezed the juice of a lemon. The citric acid and magnesium in the lemon may also help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Most important is that you drink a lot of water daily. Filtered water is ideal.

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