Urinary Tract Infections

The urinary system performs the vital task of producing and excreting urine, thereby cleansing the body of waste products and helping to maintain a constant internal environment by governing the water and chemical composition and the acid-alkali balance of the body.

It is very important to drink plenty of water: at least 8 glasses of water are needed daily to assist the kidneys in their cleansing work, to flush through toxins and waste products of the metabolism and to protect them from causing irritation of the urinary tract along the way.

Infections of the urinary tract: Bladder infection or cystitis is a very common infection, especially in women due, it is believed, to the short distance between the bladder and the urinary outlet; a man’s urethra is longer and therefore bacteria find it more difficult to travel up to their bladders.

Symptoms of a bladder infection include frequent urges to urinate, with burning and stinging pain during and especially at the end of urination. The onset of an infection can be sudden or slow. Since kidney infections can result from untreated bladder infections, seek professional care if the pain is severe or the infection does not respond to treatment.

Recurring bladder inflammations without the presence of an infection are called interstitial inflammations because the pain and swelling occur between the tissues and not on the bladder walls (as most infections do). This type of inflammation gives lab tests which are negative as there are no bacteria present and antibiotics don’t help. The symptoms of this type of inflammation are the same as for other bladder infections, but the process tends to be ongoing and recurring.

Herbal treaSalus Plantain Juicetment of cystisis is very effective and can also treat chronic recurrent types of infection equally well. It is also useful at preventing infections in individuals with a tendency to get many bladder infections during the year.

Horsetail Juice, Plantain Juice and Yarrow Juice are all equally good at acting as urinary tract antiseptic remedies.

Irish Botanica Echinacea Oral Liquid 200ml

Combined with Echinacea Root Tincture – which has the ability to kill bacteria and viruses and stimulates the immune system to eliminate the infection.

Echinacea also stops the bacteria digging into the walls of the urinary tract, which they must do in order not to be washed away by the flushing effect of the urine passing down the urinary tract.

A very soothing remedy with the ability to ease infections is Barley Grain. Here is a simple recipe for Barley Water:
Simmer 4oz (100 g) of washed organic barley in 1 pint (600ml) of water until the barley is soft. Add a little lemon and honey and drink lukewarm; drink 1 pint each day divided throughout the day.

To prevent urinary tract infection, genital hygiene is crucial, particularly in women and girls. It is very important to clean the genital area away from the urinary outlet – not towards it – after defecation, thus preventing bacteria from the anus getting into the urinary tract. Also and especially in children, high sugar levels in their diets can lead to very weakened immune systems and more chance of getting a bladder infection.

Solgar Cran FloraCranberry Juice taken every day is also good at preventing urinary tract infection; also Uva-Ursi or Cranberry Tablets taken on a regular basis can prevent urinary tract infections in individuals that are prone to them.

Avoid acid-forming foods such as tomatoes, spinach, vinegar and pickles, rhubarb, gooseberries and coffee, all of which add irritation to an already inflamed bladder.

Drink ample fluids: chamomile tea is excellent with its soothing and healing effect on the body while you have an infection. Rest and keep warm, especially your feet.

David Foley
MNIMH, MRCHM
Medical Herbalist