I recently had a friend ask, “What helps with UTI’s?”, and a week later another friend inquired, “What can I do for a UTI”? When I researched statistics and found that UTI/Bladder infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, affecting 40% of women and 12% of men, and that 8.1 million visits to a healthcare practitioner each year are for treatment of this aggravating condition…… I decided it was time to “post”!
If you’ve ever suffered with a urinary tract infection (urethritis) or bladder infection(cystitis) you understand how miserable (or downright unbearable) life can be until you find relief. This unpleasant condition occurs when microbes, typically bacteria, enter the urethra and adhere to the lining of the urinary tract. In more severe cases, the bacteria will travel up to the kidneys (pyelonephritis). Identifying the early signs of an infection is key to preventing or at least shortening the duration of irritating and sometimes painful symptoms. Learn to read your body’s signals…….
Symptoms: (you may experience one or more of the following)
- Urine is cloudy or dark in appearance
- Blood is visible in the urine (typically associated with kidney infections)
- Urine has a strong smell or unusual odor
- Persistent urge to urinate, yet sometimes very little is excreted
- Burning sensation when you urinate
- Pelvic pain or discomfort (above the pubic bone)
- Low back ache or pain
- Feeling tired or shaky
- Fever or chills (both – are usually associated with kidney infection)
How Do You Find Relief?????
- Yes – Cranberry Juice really does help! Use this as your first line of defense – If your prone to UTI’s/Bladder infections your kitchen should NEVER be without a stock of cranberry juice. If you experience one of the symptoms listed above – begin drinking cranberry juice to help prevent bacteria from continuing to adhere to the lining of your urinary tract or bladder. Unsweetened! – NOT cocktail juice – if the ingredients have sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavors, or coloring choose another option. Your looking for 100% cranberry juice. Mix it with water to curtail the tartness – it’ll still work!
- Don’t like cranberry juice? You’re in luck – Blueberry Juice is a great alternative!
- Drink LOTS OF WATER! – At least 1/2 of your weight in ounces (150 lbs =75 ounces per day) I know this may sound simple and even worse – annoying – given you might be suffering with painful and/or frequent urination; however, water will help flush the bacteria out of your system quicker than if you’re dehydrated!
- Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis)- Keep this wonderful herb on hand to provide relief and help heal irritated tissue that may be susceptible to future infections. Marshmallow is soothing, reduces inflammation, and has anti-bacterial properties. Take in capsule form or for immediate relief you can add the powdered herb to a bath. (Normally, I would advise against baths, yet if you’re suffering with inflamed, sensitive genital tissue a bath with Marshmallow may provide some relief)
- Avoid sugary foods – Bacteria LOVE sweets! Avoid all sugar – this includes the spoonful of sugar in your coffee, sweet beverages, alcohol, pasta, white bread, and rice.
- If you’re not currently taking a quality probiotic containing active lactobacillus acidophilus add this to your arsenal. The alternative is eating significant amounts of fermented foods (daily) like: kombucha, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough breads, soy miso, tempeh and apple cider vinegar. When I refer to a “quality” probiotic – let’s just say your probiotic supplement “should” require refrigeration. Considering good-bacteria is supposed to be “alive” to ensure that it’s active and effective – I’m skeptical of a pill that is popped out of a tinfoil/plastic, individually wrapped package or that room-temperature has been maintained from production to store shelf. Why waste your money on a product that could be “dead” or ineffective.
- Avoid acid forming foods: processed foods, spicy foods, fats, dairy products, red meats and shellfish. These foods contribute to creating an acidic environment that bacteria thrive in. They can increase the likelihood of an infection and/or prolong an existing infection.
- Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi: bearberry) may become your new best friend if you’re prone to UTI’s or bladder infections. This wonderful herb is more effective than cranberry juice with regards to preventing and treating infections. Use Uva Ursi extracts or capsules at a dosage of 250 to 500 mg up to three times daily. Be sure to take the extract or capsule with a glass of water and for a truly comprehensive approach take it with Marshmallow Root. Uva Ursi works as an antiseptic and diuretic while Marshmallow Root is a demulcent and helps to soothe inflamed tissue. If you have a special event/occasion coming up, take Uva Ursi as a precautionary measure, or if you’re looking to shorten the duration of a current UTI/bladder infection – this is a great herb to keep in your medicine cabinet. I know herbs can seem intimidating! Considering safety issues is important for both over-the-counter drugs and medicinal herbs; however, Uva Ursi has been used by cultures around the world for more than a thousand years. It is important to check with a professional herbalist or health practitioner before using any herb or supplement.
***Do not take Uva Ursi within 2 hours of taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)(i.e. aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol), corticosteroids, and iron supplements. Avoid Uva Ursi if you take Lithium, during pregnancy, or if you have a kidney infection. Do not exceed the dosage mentioned above and do not take for longer than 2 weeks at a time.
- Drink plenty of water everyday
- Avoid sugary and processed foods
- Urinate when you feel the need; resist the urge to hold it.
- Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from entering your urethra
- Take showers instead of baths
- Urinate following intercourse to remove any bacteria that could lead to a UTI
- Use a shower hose to thoroughly clean your genital area when you bath
- Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays
- Use only white unscented toilet paper to avoid potential dye reactions and remnant particles left behind from wiping with soft TP
- Avoid hot tubs and bubble baths
- Avoid tight-fitting pants
WARNING: Although most bladder infections are not serious, it is important that you be properly diagnosed, treated and monitored. If you have symptoms suggestive of a bladder infection, consult a physician.
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