Bladder Health And Infections In Women

Photo of Sharol Tilgner
Drawing of female bladder

Bladder Health and Prevention of Bladder Infections in Women

Bladder health begins with a little knowledge. There are many predisposing factors that can be changed or avoided to prevent infections.

Predisposing Factors to Urinary Tract Infections

  • Obstructions
    • stones
    • tumors
    • strictures
  • New or multiple sexual partners
  • Stress
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Food allergies
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Bowel toxemia
  • High sugar intake
  • Repetative vigorous sexual intercourse
  • Decreased immunity
  • Diaphragm use or misuse
  • Vesicovaginal fistula
    Lack of local defense system - this is considered the cause of recurrent UTIs in many women.  A lack of local defense may allow colonization of bacteria on the vaginal vestibule. These women usually have decreased cervicovaginal antibodies to enterobacteria. These factors lead to an increased number of abnormal organisms in the vagina that are capable of ascending the urinary tract through the urethra.

 

Avoid the following to help prevent bladder infections

  • Nylon underwear
  • Sitting on cold floors & hot radiators
  • Baths, use showers l
  • Pantyhose
  • Tight pants
  • Swimming in chlorinated pools
  • Fried Foods
  • Sexual partner with dirty fingers
  • Sugar and processed sugary foods
  • Sitting around in wet bathing suits
  • Caffeine and dairy can be a problem for some as well as food sensitivities in general
  • Soaps that contain perfumes, colorations
  • Vaginal intercourse after anal intercourse
  • Refined Foods
  • Vaginal douches and sprays are generally unnecessary and many can be harmful especially those with    l    alcohol, perfumes, colorations or other chemicals
  • Clothing that increases heat and perspiration in the perineal area

 

Reduce Risk Factors

  • Wipe from front to back when voiding.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Drink nettle tea.
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse.
  • Keep the genital area clean.
  • Urinate whenever you feel the urge.
  • Wash clothing with non-scented detergents.
  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice. Combine a cup of water and a handful of berries in the blender.

 

If a bladder infection is Suspected

  • Drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria and prevent spread of the infection to the kidneys.
  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice.

Studies have shown that it's the mannose in cranberry juice that does the job. If the UTI is caused by E. coli  (Bladder infections are often due to coliform bacteria and mostly E coli) the E. coli germs will discover that they can no longer adhere to the walls of the urinary tract. If your UTI is caused by another organism, the cranberry juice, and mannose may not help at all.

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, sugar and alcohol.
  • Use hot and cold alternating sitz baths: 3 minutes warm and 1 minute cold to improve pelvic circulation.
  • Drink rose hip tea for vitamin C content or take Vitamin C to bowel tolerance.
  • Drink carrot juice for carotenoids including betacarotene.
  • Eat berries or flowers high in flavonoids.
  • Eat pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and other foods high in zinc or take zinc 30 mg/day.
  • Vitamin A 25,000 IU/day.
  • Use flax oil or seeds if there is chronic inflammation and especially if allergies are suspected.

 

Herbal Formulas Used for Simple Bladder Infections

Urinary Tract Infection Formula Tincture

Echinacea spp. - Echinacea    20-35%
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Uva-ursi    20-35%
Barosma betulina - Buchu     20-35%
Usnea spp. - Old man’s beard     10-20%
Zea mays - Cornsilk     10-20%

Actions: This formula is antimicrobial and disinfects the entire urinary tract. It also soothes the urinary tract's mucus membranes, decreases irritation and helps to maintain tissue integrity. It has diuretic qualities and enhances the immune system’s natural resistance to bacterial and fungal organisms.

Indications: A diuretic and antiseptic used for the inflamed and infected bladder and kidneys.

Herb Profiles:

Echinacea spp. - Echinacea is immunomodulating, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.

Arctostaphylos uva ursi - uva ursi is a urinary tract antiseptic and diuretic that is specific for urinary tract infections. Research claims it works best in an alkaline pH. The leaves contain arbutin, an antiseptic constituent, which is metabolized into an even more antiseptic constituent called hydroquinone. In alkaline urine, hydroquinone is an effective antimicrobial agent. Uva ursi itself tends to alkalinize the urine and may give it a green tinge.

Barosma betulina - Buchu is also antimicrobial and astringent.

Usnea spp. - Old man’s beard is thought of as nature’s "herbal antibiotic" by some herbalists. It does kill many bacterial organisms.

Zea mays - Cornsilk is a soothing diuretic, mild antimicrobial, vulnerary and demulcent. Glycoproteins in cornsilk increase production of interferon, inhibit IgE formation and enhance IgG and IgM formation. Corn silk has antiviral and antitumor activities.
Liquid extract dosage: 40-60 drops (up to one teaspoon in hard to treat cases), 3-4 times per day. Can be taken every 2 hours if necessary. Do not use at this dosage for more than  72 hours. Reduce dosage to 4 times per day, and finally 3 times per day over a 10 day period.

Adjunct: Mucilaginous teas

Contraindications, Cautions and Words of Wisdom: Urinary tract infections, especially kidney infections, can have serious consequences. If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, and if there is a fever or pain indicating a kidney infection more aggressive treatment may be necessary. A health care practitioner should always be consulted.

 

Urinary Tract Infection Formula Tea

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Uva-ursi   10-20%

Althea officinalis - Marshmallow    10-30%

Elytrigia repens - Couch grass     10-20%
Urtica dioica - Nettles     10-20%

Plantago spp. - Plantain     10-20%

Taraxacum officinalis leaf - Dandelion    10-20%

Actions: This formula is antimicrobial and disinfects the entire urinary tract. It also soothes the urinary tract's mucus membranes, decreases irritation and helps to maintain tissue integrity. It has diuretic qualities and enhances the immune system’s natural resistance to bacterial and fungal organisms.

Indications: A diuretic and antiseptic used for the inflamed and infected bladder and kidneys.

Herb Profiles:
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Uva-ursi (See Arctostaphylos uva-ursi profile above).

Althea officinalis - Marshmallow is anti-inflammatory, mucilaginous and soothing.

Agropyren repens - Couch grass is antimicrobial and a diuretic.
Urtica dioica (Nettles) is a nutritious herb with a beneficial effect on the whole urinary tract as well as the nervous system.

Plantago spp. - Plantain is soothing and healing to the urinary tract. It assists in restoration and maintenance of normal epithelial tissue lining of the bladder.

Taraxacum officinalis leaf - Dandelion is used for its diuretic qualities, although its liver support and general stimulation of digestion is useful to almost everyone.

Tea dosage:
Dosage - acute: 2 heaping teaspoons per cup water, 3-4 times per day. Can be taken every 2 hours if necessary, up to a 72 hour period. Reduce dosage to 4 times per day, and finally 3 times per day over a 10 day period.

Adjunct: Mucilaginous teas: Drink as much as possible.

Contraindications, Cautions and Words of Wisdom: Urinary tract infections, especially kidney infections, can have serious consequences. If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, and if there is a fever or pain indicating a kidney infection more aggressive treatment may be necessary. A health care practitioner should always be consulted.

 

You can get information on the above herbs from the Herbal Monograph section of this website.

 

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