April 18/London/The Independent -- New research published April 14 suggests that replenishing the body with probiotics can be a natural way to fight off chronic urinary tract infection (UTI) in women.

Women have long been relying on priobiotics, or "good bacteria" -- either in yogurt or as dietary supplements -- to treat such problems as yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, and UTI, but medical science offers limited support, states Harvard Medical School. Yet a new study shows promise.

U.S. researchers from the University of Washington had 50 women suffering from chronic UTI use a probiotic-filled suppository, shaped like a tampon and inserted into the vagina. While all the women in the study had recurrent UTIs, only seven of the 50 women who received the suppository experienced a recurrence over a 10-week period of time, compared with 13 of the 50 women who received a placebo.

Women who have recurring urinary tract infection have alterations in their vaginal bacteria. Researchers noted a reduction in probiotic strain Lactobacillus crispatus being linked to a risk factor of chronic UTI, because a lack of this healthy bacteria can contribute to the growth of bad bacteria that migrates to the urethra.

More research needs to be done on this treatment, both on a larger group of women and on women concurrently taking antibiotics -- commonly prescribed for UTI -- before a treatment plan can be approved, researchers said. However, results may suggest that common folk remedies involving inserting natural, unsweetened yogurt into the vagina may not be off the mark.

Previous studies indicate that probiotics may have a role in treating gastrointestinal illnesses, boosting immunity, and even in preventing or slowing the development of certain types of cancer.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

From the April 19, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.