Bladder Infection (Cystitis)
The uncomfortable and irritating symptoms of a bladder infection send
American women to their doctors 6 to 9 million times every year. Most of
these women will be treated with a course of antibiotics, a strategy that
kills the current infection but that leaves the bladder vulnerable to a
future bacterial invasion. As a result, most of the women who see a doctor
about a bladder infection will return; 10 to 20 percent of all women
experience a bladder infection at least once over a twelve-month period.
When the bladder is infected, usually by bacteria, its interior walls
become inflamed. This inflammation, medically known as cystitis, leads to a
frequent and urgent need to urinate, although the urine produced may be
scanty, and the bladder may not feel completely empty. There is usually
pain or burning upon urination, and there may be cramping in the abdomen or
the lower back, and fever.
Women suffer from bladder infections far more frequently than men do,
mainly because of the female anatomy. In women, the urethra-the tube that
conducts urine away from the bladder and out of the body is very short, and
its opening is in close proximity to both the anus and the vagina. It's
relatively easy for vaginal or intestinal bacteria to travel to the opening
of the urethra, make their way up the tube, and infect the bladder.
Although bacteria are the cause of most infections, several other
conditions put women at risk for this disorder. Frequent use of antibiotics
is one of the most prevalent since these medications destroy the "good"
bacteria needed to fight infections. Anything else that weakens the immune
system, such as stress or a poor diet, increases the likelihood of an
infection. Pregnancy, sexual intercourse, and injury to the area are
associated with a higher risk. Hormone imbalances can also contribute to
increased susceptibility. Menopause is a time when many women first start
to experience bladder infections.
Most bladder infections respond well to home care that treats the symptoms
while strengthening the immune system. You should still consult a doctor,
however, as there is a possibility that the infection can spread to the
kidneys. Your physician should monitor your progress and make sure the
infection isn't traveling upward. And if you have recurring infections,
your doctor should examine you for a structural abnormality in the urethra
or the bladder that prevents urine from flowing properly. Should your
doctor want to prescribe antibiotics, explain to him or her your desire
from more conservative treatment and ask whether antibiotics are really
necessary? (In some cases, they're needed to prevent a kidney infection.)
If you are a man with a bladder infection, you may have a more serious
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; the level
of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when
taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements have shown to help
Bladder Infection, Cystitis:
Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and
Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Super Prescription # 1 Uva ursi
Take a standardized capsule containing 250 mg of arbutin or
5 ml of the tincture form four times daily. Arbutin is a
constituent in uva ursi that is converted in the body to a
chemical called hydroquinone, which destroys bacteria.
Super Prescription # 2 D-Mannose
Take 500 mg four times daily. This substance prevents
bacteria from being able to attach to the urinary tract and
the bladder wall.
Super Prescription # 3
Echinacea and Goldenseal
- LifeSource Products - See All of our
Take 500 mg of the capsule form or 4 ml of the tincture
four times daily. These herbs enhance immune function to
Super Prescription # 4
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) extract
- LifeSource Product Take 400 to 500 mg
twice daily of cranberry extract capsules. Cranberry
prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. This
herb is best used for the prevention of urinary tract
infections but can also be used as part of a comprehensive
protocol for acute infection.
Super Prescription # 5 Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
Take 500 mg of the capsule or 2 ml of the tincture four
times daily. This herb has a long history of use for
urinary tract infections.
Super Prescription # 6
- LifeSource Products - See All of our Vitamin C
Take 1,000 mg four to five times daily. Vitamin C enhances
immune function, inhibits the growth of E. coli, and makes
the urine more acidic so that bacteria cannot grow as
Pain or burning upon urination
Frequent need to urinate
Scanty flow or dribbling
Cramps in the abdomen or lower back
Nausea or vomiting
Vaginal or intestinal bacteria, usually E. coli
Frequent use of antibiotics
Poor diet and food allergies
Use of a diaphragm for contraception
Make sure that you're getting all the nutrients you need. Plan
well-rounded, wholesome meals, made with basic foods that you prepare
One of the best strategies for fighting a bladder infection is to increase
your urine output. Drink as much clean water as you can stand. Try for one
6- to 8-ounce glass every waking hour.
Cranberry juice has long been a folk remedy for bladder infections, and now
science helps us understand why: it appears that cranberry juice keeps
bacteria from clinging to the linings of the bladder and the urethra. You
can find unsweetened cranberry juice at most health food stores and many
supermarkets. Drink several glasses of it a day.
Natural diuretics will help flush out the infection. Eat plenty of
watermelon, celery, or parsley, or use them to make fresh juices.
Add some garlic to clear soups or other meals. It's a potent
If you must take antibiotics, eat a cup of unsweetened live yogurt or
another cultured product every day. These foods help return "good" bacteria
to your body.
Foods to Avoid
Sugar depresses the immune system and encourages the growth of bacteria.
Avoid all refined sugars (including those in alcohol) while you're battling
the infection, and restrict them once you've recovered.
During the course of the infection, stay away from salty, spicy, processed,
or refined foods, as well as caffeine. All of these substances will further
aggravate the problem.
Food allergies can cause recurring bladder infections. Determine whether a
food is at the heart of your problem.
Many women who are frequent consumers of sodas (both sugary and diet)
experience recurring bladder infections. Sodas, whether made from natural
or artificial sweeteners, are never a good idea; if you are troubled by
bladder infections, you now have another compelling reason to avoid sodas.
A three-day juice fast is a strong weapon against recurring infections.
Concentrate on vegetable juices, rather than on fruit juices, at this time,
since you want to avoid too much sugar. When you drink fruit juice, dilute
it with clean water.
Always empty your bladder when you feel the need. Delaying urination
sets the stage for an infection.
Empty your bladder prior to and, if possible, after sexual intercourse
to reduce the likelihood of infection. It's a good idea for women to
drink a big glass of water before and after intercourse.
After swimming, immediately change out of your wet bathing suit and
into dry clothes. Damp conditions are a breeding ground for bacteria.
If you're prone to bladder infections, wear cotton underwear that lets
the genital area breathe.
After going to the toilet, always wipe from front to back. This reduces
the chances that intestinal bacteria will travel to the urethra.
Avoid products that may irritate the urethra or the vagina. Do not use
powders, sanitary napkins, or tampons that are scented.
A hot compress is very soothing to an irritated urinary tract. Lie down
somewhere comfortable, and place the compress on your lower abdomen.
For bladder infections that occur around menses or that began with
menopausal changes, hormone balancing is likely the issue.
Bruce Brightman – founder
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