Inflammation of the bladder usually occurring secondary to ascending urinary tract infections. Associated organs (kidney, prostate, urethra) may be involved. May be acute or chronic.
Bladder infections are usually caused by some type of bacteria. Kidney infections are more serious and often result in cystitis. More frequent in women than in men due to the closeness of the bladder and urethra to the vagina. About 85% of urinary tract infections are caused by Escherichia coli, a bacterium found in the intestines. Chlamydia may also cause bladder problems in sexually active women.
Acute: frequent and painful urination.
Chronic: Secondary to some other lesion with possibly pyuria (pus in the urine) as the only symptom.
Cystitis is characterized by an urgent desire to empty the bladder. Even after the bladder has been emptied, there may be a desire to urinate again. The urine often has a strong, unpleasant odor and may appear cloudy. Children suffering from bladder infections may have lower abdominal pain and experience a painful burning sensation while urinating. Blood in the urine could indicate a more serious problem and warrants medical attention.
Antibiotics are useful in treating the infection but more definitive therapy will be required if the basic cause is a renal calculus (kidney stone) or a structural defect in the urinary tract such as obstruction. If your physician prescribes antibiotics and analgesics, make sure to take some form of acidophilus to replace the "friendly" bacteria. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, not just the disease causing, but the "friendly" as well.
URINARY TRACT INFECTION SELF-TEST:
Purchase the product called Dipstick at the local drugstore. It contains a thin strip of plastic that has been chemically treated. If the tip of the strip changes color when dipped in urine, it indicates the presence of bacterial infection. Make sure the urine sample is collected cleanly (collected mid-stream).
Herbal Medicine Formulas and Recipes
Folk Medicine Formulas
Acidophilus, 2 capsules 3 times per day, (also use 1 tbsp. in 1 quart warm water as a douche, if associated with vaginitis, alternate with apple cider vinegar). Acidophilus supplies the necessary "friendly" bacteria.
Vitamin C, 4,000-5,000 mg. daily in divided doses, produces antibacterial effect through acidification of urine and also is important in immune function.
Garlic capsules, 2 capsules 3 times per day, is a natural antibiotic.
L-Cysteine, 500 mg. twice a day on an empty stomach, is a potent detoxifier.
Vitamin B complex, 50-100 mg. twice a day with meals (high doses are necessary when antibiotics are used).
Calcium, 1,500 mg. per day, reduces bladder irritability.
Magnesium, 750-1,000 mg. per day, aids in stress response and works best when balanced with calcium. (Chelate formula is the most effective)
Vitamin and mineral complex (high potency), taken as directed on the label, is needed for essential balanced vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A, 10,000 IU daily, promotes the healing process and immune function.
Beta-carotene, 15,000 IU daily, promotes the healing process and immune function.
Vitamin E, 600 IU daily, combats infecting bacteria.
Zinc, 50 mg. daily, is important in tissue repair and immunity.
- Balsam fir
- Bearberry (uva-ursi)
- Birch leaves, sweet or black
- Burdock root
- Cohosh, blue
- Corn (Yu-shu-shu)
- Flaxseed (Chih-ma)
- Fenugreek (Hu-lu-pa)
- Gravel root
- Hibiscus flowers
- Horsetail, greater
- Juniper berries (Kuei)
- Knotgrass (Pien-hsu)
- Licorice, wild
- Lovage root
- Marshmallow root
- Parsley (Inn sai)
- Plantain, water
- Pumpkin seed
- Rose hips
- Sage (Shu-wei-ts'ao)
- St. John's wort
- Shepherd's purse (Chi-ts'ai)
- Star root
- Walnut, black
- Watermelon (Hsi-kua)
- Wood Sorrel
Marshmallow root increases the acid content in the urine, inhibiting bacterial growth. Juniper berries will help to restore kidney function. Goldenseal is good for bladder infections when there is bleeding (pregnant women should not use large amounts of goldenseal).
Diuretics help cleanse the system. Dandelion tea or dandelion extract acts as a diuretic and liver cleanser; it aids in relieving bladder discomfort. Uva-ursi should be used only in small amounts and diluted with other herbs. Bearberry acts as a mild diuretic and antiseptic. Birch leaves are a natural diuretic and reduce some of the pain associated with bladder infections.
Do not delay emptying the bladder! Retaining urine in the bladder increases the risk of urinary tract infection. Empty the bladder before and after exercising.
Keep genital area clean and dry. Wipe from front to back only. Women should empty the bladder before and after intercourse. Avoid hygiene sprays, douches, and bubble baths; these may cause further irritation. Women should wear white cotton underwear; nylon underwear holds moisture. They should not use tampons if they frequently have urinary tract infections.
Hot Sitz baths will help relieve pain of cystitis.
Drink plenty of liquids. Avoid citrus fruits; these produce alkaline urine that encourages bacterial growth. Avoid caffeine, carbonated beverages, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol.
Include celery, parsley and watermelon in the diet.
Consult your doctor before using diuretics.
Look for allergies; they often mimic the symptoms of bladder infections.
Bladder infections in men may signal a more serious problem, such as prostatitis.