One of the newer products Uqora has added they first debuted in the market is Uqora Control, which is marketed to prevent urinary tract infections. Now, it is my long-standing belief that to stop being prone to infections, you must cure an underlying imbalance. However, many UTI patients are looking for a magic bullet, and Uqora is often advertised as one.
I reviewed Uqora Target in an earlier post, but today I’ll walk you through the claims of Uqora Control and the “science” behind it.
Uqora Control Claims
Here are Uqora’s claims about Control, from the manufacturer’s website:
- “Control breaks up’ biofilm,’ the tool bacteria use to stay hidden so that you can beat repeat infections.”
- “The ingredients in Control also protect the kidneys from the damage of recurring UTIs.”
- “Slows biofilm formation by making it more difficult for bacteria to create biofilms.”
- “New research has shown that Control’s ingredients not only have the power to inhibit the biofilm that bacteria use to hide themselves, but also to prevent the growth of and even kill the bacteria.”
- “Antioxidant properties of Uqora Control’s ingredients have been shown to specifically protect the kidneys from damage.”
Notice the wording here: “Uqora Control’s ingredients” instead of “Uqora Control.” That is because there were no actual studies of this product. Instead, the manufacturer cites 15 publicly available research papers to give the impression that their claims are supported by scientific and clinical research.
Conducting studies is expensive. But it’s not a reason to mislead your customers.
Several members of our closed FB group were under the impression that Uqora’s claims were specifically about their unique formula. It seems like a sneaky business practice.
Furthermore, there’s a reason why studies have to be performed on humans (not mice or rats) to confirm a drug’s effectiveness. First of all, people aren’t rats. Many studies performed on animals fail later in the clinical research phase when the drug is tried on humans. We can’t assume that what worked in an animal model work in humans.
And, of course, any difference in ingredients or their dosages could alter how the body reacts to them. This is especially true with the ingredient curcumin. Further down, I will explain why, for example, adding black pepper (one of the ingredients in Uqora Control) gets very different results than using pure curcumin.
This is probably the silliest part of the product’s claims. Sure, the cute graphic depicting Uqora Control breaking down a lump of biofilm in the bladder looks convincing, but it misses a critical point. There are no widely-available clinical tests that would confirm the existence of biofilm in the bladder. You can’t go to a doctor and ask for a test to find out if you have biofilms or not.
Chronic UTI treatments are not “one size fits all.” If they are, you’re doing it wrong.
Here are examples of why someone could be prone to UTIs:
-low estrogen due to menopause
-constipated & poor gut health, especially in teens
-BV or a yeast infection.
So if biofilm in a bladder could not be reliably established, how can anybody claim that their product destroys this invisible and undetectable enemy?
Most of the studies that are linked to this claim on Uqora’s website were performed in vitro. “In vitro” means in a test tube or a Petri dish; “in vivo, on the other hand, means in a living body.
The inside of a Petri dish is nothing like the inside of a human. It’s a glass container designed to cultivate bacteria, not simulate a body. There are lab models that mimic the human body better, but most are still quite primitive.
Moreover, you metabolize different substances differently. Anything you put in your mouth will be broken down before it gets distributed through your body.
Some supplements (like D-Mannose) get fast-tracked out of the body and enter the bladder almost unchanged.
Others (like garlic and allicin pills) are changed into other substances that your body can use.
That’s why to claim the effectiveness of a supplement, it’s imperative to test the exact formula and dosage in humans.
Instead, Uqora links to lab studies, mice studies, a couple of human trials (none of them using Uqora products, and most of them using a combination of different ingredients that are not in Uqora).
While combating biofilms is an important task, Uqora hasn’t shown that Control does that. A study that they link to reinforces: “While designing any compound for combating biofilm, it is very important to observe its proper delivery in any in-vivo system at a particular site and the dosage of the anti-biofilm compound is another crucial factor, which needs thorough investigation.”
Uqora Control claims are misleading and are not based on the actual clinical studies of the Uqora Control formula. We don’t know how Uqora works in humans, or if taking Control would be better or worse than taking each ingredient on its own.
Uqora Control Ingredients
Uqora Control contains four ingredients, not including the vegan capsule:
- D-mannose – 650 mg
- Turmeric extract (Curcumin 95%) – 200 mg
- Green tea extract – 150 mg
- Black pepper – 10 mg
What’s doing the heavy lifting in this formula? My bet is it’s the D-mannose. Let’s look at each ingredient and see if there is any relevant information about its UTI-preventive properties.
Most D-mannose is shipped in bulk from China, where it’s made from corn, and then repackaged in the USA.
If there was anything special about Uqora’s D-mannose, I’m sure they would have mentioned it on their website. Since they didn’t, I assume their D-mannose is imported from China like 99% of the rest on the market.
If you decide to try D-mannose for UTI prevention, it is cheaper to buy it in bulk and add 1/2 teaspoon to your water bottle once per day. It tastes sweet, and a slight difference in the dosage won’t make any difference.
If you’d rather support local manufacturers, you can find the names of companies that make D-mannose in the USA in this post.
D-mannose is also the main ingredient of the first product by Uqora, called “Target.”
Turmeric (Curcumin) & Black Pepper
Curcumin is a derivative of turmeric, and it’s the part of turmeric that has had the most researched into its health benefits. However, as Examine explains, “While curcumin is a highly potent chemical in turmeric, it’s hardly the only one. Most supplement companies focus on extracting curcumin, however, some studies suggest that turmeric as a whole has benefits, and it’s possible that it has benefits that curcumin alone doesn’t.”
Uqora Control contains 200 mg of turmeric extract, which is 95% curcumin. It’s a very small amount compared to studies that showed the effectiveness of curcumin for health.
Most curcumin supplements contain at least 600 mg.
Black pepper is added to increase the bioavailability of curcumin, so your body metabolizes more of it. But in the case of UTI prevention, this might be the wrong approach.
You want curcumin to act as an insoluble prebiotic, passing through your body unchanged until your beneficial bacteria find it. Read more on this here: Gut Check: Curcumin (Turmeric) & UTI.
I have not seen any studies on using curcumin to prevent UTIs. It is probably included in Control due to its general anti-inflammatory effects. After all, chronic UTIs sometimes cause persistent bladder inflammation.
Here are some clinical studies that showed the effect of curcumin on a variety of inflammation-related symptoms:
- Efficacy And Safety Of Meriva®, A Curcumin-phosphatidylcholine Complex, During Extended Administration In Osteoarthritis Patients. Participants took a drug called Meriva, that consists of curcumin bound to phosphatidylcholine, 1,000 mg per day (five times more than in Uqora).
- High-dose Curcuminoids Are Efficacious In The Reduction In Symptoms And Signs Of Oral Lichen Planus. Participants took 6,000 mg of curcumin daily (30 times more than in Uqora).
- Oral Supplementation Of Turmeric Attenuates Proteinuria, Transforming Growth Factor-β And Interleukin-8 Levels In Patients With Overt Type 2 Diabetic Nephropathy: A Randomized, Double-blind And Placebo-controlled Study. Participants took 1,500 mg turmeric, of which 66.6 mg was the active ingredient curcumin, divided into three portions per day (about a third of the amount in Uqora).
- Curcumin Maintenance Therapy For Ulcerative Colitis: Randomized, Multicenter, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Participants took curcumin at a dose of 2,000 mg daily (10 times more than in Uqora) in conjunction with standard treatment (sulfasalazine or mesalamine).
- A Novel Highly Bioavailable Curcumin Formulation Improves Symptoms And Diagnostic Indicators In Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Two-Dose, Three-Arm, And Parallel-Group Study. Participants took 1,000 mg of a bioavailable curcuminoid extract (95% curcuminoids) which is five times more than in Uqora.
Why such big doses? Because it is not easy to get curcumin to show up in urine or blood plasma and study its health benefits.
- Sharma et al. gave 440 to 2,200 mg/day of curcuma extract (36 to 180 mg of curcumin) for up to 29 days to patients with advanced colorectal cancer. They weren’t able to detect curcumin or its metabolites in the patients’ blood or urine.
- Cheng et al. determined the concentration of curcumin in 25 subjects with high-risk cancer lesions. They found doses below 4,000 mg were barely detectable.
Black pepper could improve the bioavailability of curcumin, so does the use of curcumin nanoparticles and curcumin phospholipid complex, or just eating essential fatty acids like olive oil or avocado oil along with the curcumin.
Even with improved bioavailability, the effect and presence of curcumin in blood or urine are dose-dependent.
All that said, as I mentioned earlier, your best bet when taking turmeric for UTI prevention could just be just let it slide through your GI tract without much intervention 🙂
Green Tea Extract
Per a literature review study: “The important components in green tea that show antimicrobial properties are the catechins… Of these catechins, EGCG and EGC are found in the highest amounts in green tea and have been the subject of most of the studies.
EGCG has been shown to demonstrate a variety of antimicrobial properties. “Consumption of green tea has been shown to distribute these compounds and/or their metabolites throughout the body, which allows for not only the possibility of treatment of infections but also the prevention of infections.”
Sounds promising, but:
Per Examine: “‘Green tea extract’ in pills, unless the processing is specified, can be as simple as a capsule of tea leaves. There is little to no difference between tea in liquid form and capsules, aside from possibly dosage and taste.”
That’s why, when choosing a green tea supplement, it is useful to pay attention to how much EGCG the supplement includes.
Most doses used in research are standardized against the quantity of EGCG.
What kind of green tea extract is in Uqora Control? I don’t know. It could be something with a high concentration of EGCG, or it could just be a pinch of dry tea leaves.
One cup of green tea, for example, contains approximately 50mg of EGCG equivalent. Uqora doesn’t specify the % of EGCG in their extract, but since most green tea extract supplements are about 50% EGCG, we can speculate that one capsule probably delivers around 75 mg of EGCG.
That is the amount you would get from a cup and a half of regular green tea.
Examine’s article clarifies that the benefits of green tea catechins are dose-dependent, like with curcumin.
For example, green tea only showed significant weight-loss effects in humans at doses of 400-500mg EGCG equivalent per day. That would be 800-1000mg of green tea extract, more than five times what’s in Uqora Control.
A cancer-prevention trial had similar results, where it took doses of 600 mg per day of green tea extract to show a difference.
Similar to curcumin, when it comes to human clinical trials the results have been mixed and not conclusive: “One of the problems is getting the right concentration of the beneficial polyphenols in human tissues and organs.”
In other words, bioavailability is a bitch.
So what would 150 mg of “green tea extract” do for you? Probably not much, if anything at all.
D-Mannose could be an effective way to prevent and even treat UTIs. Many clinical studies are available to confirm this.
Several studies confirm that large amounts of curcumin ingested daily for two to three months are great for arthritis. No one has established its relevance for UTI prevention.
You would need larger doses of green tea extract to have a noticeable effect. Even then, there is no clinical evidence that it helps with bladder health or chronic UTIs.
Review of linked studies
In total, there are 15 studies cited in the Uqora Control page as “Uqora Control Science.”
First of all, I have a BIG issue with them calling this eclectic collection of links “clinical research.” Clinical research means studying a treatment’s effects on people, or data or samples of tissue from people. NOT MICE. NOT RATS. NOT isolated bacterial strains. Most of the research Uqora lists is not clinical. Phew…
Now if you’re not the type who likes going further into the details, you can stop here. Just be aware that most of the research Uqora cites isn’t clinical and none of it studies the combination of ingredients they use in Uqora Control.
Why is that important? Well, do you remember reading stories of people who took their Have you heard of celebrities who drank their meds with grapefruit juice and ended up in the ER?
Remember how curcumin on its own passes straight through your body, but when taken with oil or pepper, it can show up in your blood?
Adding or removing ingredients can change how your body absorbs things. That’s why testing a complete formula is essential.
You should also question if someone quotes a study that used a dose five times larger than the one contained in their supplement.
So here is what the studies are about and what they say:
-Five of them are about D-Mannose. I’m going to skip reviewing these. D-Mannose works. Buy D-mannose. But also, check your whole body and find the reason why you need D-Mannose in the first place.
-Three are about green tea.
-Six are about turmeric or curcumin in some form.
-One is about inflammation.
Let’s look at them one by one.
Linked Curcumin/Turmeric studies:
This study was performed on mice, but there is a bigger problem with claiming it supports the effects of Uqora Control.
What mice were given in this study was a product called Turmacin™, trademarked by Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd. in Bangalore, India.
The manufacturer of Turmacin claims this on their website: “Turmacin® is the first clinically tested water-soluble composition derived from turmeric completely untouched by solvents. Turmacin® is standardized to contain bioactive polysaccharides’ Turmerosaccharides™’ and does not contain curcuminoids” (emphasis added). While Uqora’s turmeric extract is 95% curcumin.
This study is about entirely different chemicals that happen to come from the same plant.
Summary: Not relevant unless you are treating your pet mice with Turmacin. Come on, Uqora, you’re using a study that has absolutely nothing to do with your ingredients. I’m sure they’ll remove this link soon but here is a picture:
There is no mention in this study of any ingredients or products by Uqora. It is merely a biochemical analysis of samples of patients’ urine. Here are some relevant quotes:
“One hundred sixty-four urine samples obtained from patients with the prediagnosis of acute UTI admitted to the Faculty of Medicine, Kahramanmaras Sutcu Imam University, were included in this study.”
“Urine cultures were performed according to standard techniques.”
“We conclude that urinary tract infection causes oxidative stress, increases lipid peroxidation level, and leads to insufficiency of antioxidant enzymes.”
Sure, oxidative stress is widely recognized as an important feature of many diseases. The study suggests that to counteract free radicals, patients should take vitamin C in addition to antibiotics.
Summary: Eat your berries, retake vitamin C. The study doesn’t mention of any Uqora ingredients.
This is not a study but a literature review. That is, it’s an article summarizing the results of other studies.
It makes a solid case that curcumin is a great antioxidant and helps protect kidneys… at least in rodents.
Also, these studies found that the effects of curcumin were dose-dependent. The doses that protected mice and rats’ kidneys (relative to their body weight) were close to three times higher than the amount of curcumin in a Uqora Control pill.
Summary: Another rodent study. To replicate the effects in humans would probably need much higher doses of curcumin.
4) “Inhibition of biofilm development of uropathogens by curcumin – an anti-quorum sensing agent from Curcuma longa.” Food Chemistry. Volume 148. Pages 453-460. 2014.
Here, the researchers investigated the effects of curcumin on a biofilm under a microscope. This is one of those in vitro studies we discussed, where there aren’t any metabolic processes taken into account.
It was followed up with a clinical study giving curcumin to patients during antibiotic therapy. It doesn’t tell us anything about the benefits of curcumin without antibiotics, and there are many other supplements that increase the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Summary: This is a lab study, followed by a study that looks at curcumin in combination with antibiotics.
This is another in vitro, lab-based study. The results are unlikely to be transferable to real life. The researchers looked at bacteria treated with 32 mg/L curcumin concentration. To achieve such a concentration in human urine would not be easy.
Remember that patients had to take doses of thousands of milligrams of curcumin even to get a detectable amount in their urine.
Summary: Another lab study. I imagine you’d need to eat pounds of curcumin to achieve the concentration that was used in the lab.
The study used 2,000 mg of curcumin along with 20 mg of piperin. It concludes that the piperin dramatically increased the bioavailability of the curcumin. Since Uqora Control doesn’t have piperin in it, that’s not really relevant.
Summary: If you are taking curcumin for inflammation, make sure it has an additional ingredient added for better bioavailability.
This study is interesting and relevant to UTI-sufferers. The researchers took bacteria isolated from the urine of UTI patients and exposed the bacteria to a variety of green tea concentrations.
The study concludes that “even one cup of green tea could have an effect on a urinary tract pathogen, and drinking multiple cups over the course of a day could possibly provide a prolonged effect.”
The study recommends using Japanese tea, which contains the highest amount of EGC per gram of dry tea out of 16 green teas the study compared. This is another reason why using the exact formula for a clinical test is important, especially with plants. Does Uqora use Japanese tea to create their tea extract?
Another important factor is that the inoculated plates were incubated for 48 hours. This means that the bacteria strains were exposed to the unchanged concentration of green tea for two straight days & nights. This is a lot of tea for two straight days, without diluting it with anything else.
Summary: To get close to the results of the study, you’d have to consume lots of green tea over 48 hours. And nothing else. Basically, a green tea fast.
This is another literature review, not a new study. In terms of relevance, it links to the studies that we already discussed.
Summary: See actual studies related to UTIs.
This study is about whether green tea metabolites are detectable in urine. It’s not about UTIs.
The study says that “considerable interindividual differences and variations between repeated experiments in the pharmacokinetic parameters were noted.” In layman language, different people had significantly different amounts of green tea metabolites after consumption.
This once again highlights factors that a lab study misses: the individuality of everyone’s metabolic process. This is also why a clinical study normally recruits up to 3,000 participants to establish that a drug is effective. If we all worked the same, they would only need one human.
On a side note, participants received 20mg of green tea extract per kg of their weight. That would make a dose of 1800 mg in my case or 12 times more than in a Uqora Control pill.
Summary: The only important takeaway is that green tea polyphenols are excreted with urine, but we don’t have a way to predict how much and when.
10) Torella, et al. “Efficacy of an orally administered combination of hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, curcumin and quercetin for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women.” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Volume 207. Pages 125-128. 2016.
First of all, this study uses a completely different formula than Uqora Control: hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, curcumin, and quercetin. It also points out that, while the formula reduced UTIs over one year, “the main aim rate was almost double in women receiving both local estrogens and oral therapy.”
Summary: Topical estrogen is much better at preventing UTIs than supplements 🙂
Alright, in all seriousness, it’d be great to have a magical supplement that helps all folks who prone to UTI. Unfortunately, some D-Mannose with curcumin and green tea (and consequently Uqora) is “it”.