Cystitis -- Urinary Tract infections

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Who gets cystitis?

Because of anatomical differences, cystitis is a problem that nearly always affects women. It's estimated that up to 20% of all women have at least one bout of cystitis a year and, at any one time, nearly 5% of all women show high levels of bacteria in their urine meaning that they have a current infection.

Urine is normally completely sterile until it exits the bladder into the tube that goes to the outside, the ‘urethra’. Bacteria get into the bladder by growing on and climbing up the urethral tube. Serious problems can develop when urinary tract infections don’t resolve as the infection can spread further up the urinary tract all the way to the kidneys.

The bad bugs

The bacterium that, by far, is the most common cause of cystitis is Escherichia coli, or E. coli. Everyone has some E. coli in their system; an infection with it is more a matter of where it has got to and how much of it there is. Other bacteria that are commonly identified in urinary tract infections include Proteus species, Klebsiella and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

Antibiotics are routinely given for cystitis but they seem to be ineffective for a growing number of people and there is increasing concern that some strains of E.coli etc. are becoming increasingly resistant to more and more antibiotics.

Whether a woman has been trying antibiotics without success, or whether she cannot or does not want to take drugs, it is reassuring to know that there are several remedies within Nature that have an excellent track-record in this area that are highly likely to help.

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Clinical experience - what works?

Many women have come in over the years with recurrent and resistant urinary tract infections and, so long as we carefully follow the two steps described below, we almost always get excellent results

UT Tea

60gms Uva-Ursi leaf (Bearberry)                                
30gms Elder flowers      
30gms Golden Rod leaf & flower         
20gms Corn Silk       

The amounts described above give a good-sized jar and also give you the proportions of the herbs. These are dried, cut herbs (not powders) and the dosage is 3-4 heaped tsps in one cup of freshly boiled water. Cover and allow the tea to steep for at least 10 minutes (not more than 15) then strain and drink (ok to add honey).

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This tea has been used many hundreds of times with much success in the treatment of cystitis and can be recommended to anyone. For the first few days, until things are much improved, make and drink a fresh cup 3 times a day. As soon as things are significantly better you can reduce to just once a day but you should then keep taking this daily dose for quite some time to support healing and prevent recurrence.

If you are not noticing a marked reduction in pain or burning after one day or 3 cups of the tea, then start taking a small tsp of baking soda mixed in a little water each time you take a cup of the tea. The baking soda will rapidly alkalise your urine and can sometimes be a necessary step to get the full antibiotic action of the Uva-ursi.

You may like to read further about Uva-ursi, why it is the main herb in the tea and why it deserves your trying it with an open mind even if antibiotics have failed you in the past, more about it here.


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (the key herb in the UT tea)

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Drink water & alkalise your diet

The second key step is to drink plenty of water and eat an alkaline diet. Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the severity of an infection and to help prevent a recurrence of the cystitis. How much to drink can be gauged by how often you need to go the toilet. More than once an hour is too much, less than once in two hours is too little.

An alkaline diet will reduce the symptoms of cystitis and help prevent the recurrence of future infections. The main thing to know is that you can rapidly alkalise your diet by simply eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. For more information, the guidelines written up in the cleansing diet point further in this direction, it's written up here.

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Is your immune system healthy?

Unless the cystitis is just a one-off infection as a result of getting with a new partner or some other distinct life event then you may need to carefully consider the overall health of your immune system.

The immune system is exactly like having an active army, navy and air-force inside the borders of your own body. You need those forces to repel invaders from the outside such as viruses and bacteria and likewise to deal with dangerous elements on the inside, such as toxins or mutated cells,

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If the immune system is out of balance then begin by looking at the key factors that provide rhythm and stability in our health -- especially the diet and the work/life balance. Your answers to the following questions may show where the attention needs to go:

1) Do I eat a healthy diet and would score myself at least 7 out of 10 for good nutrition?

2) Do I have signs of food intolerance such as a bloated belly and dark rings under my eyes?

3) Am I getting enough rest and relaxation or do I have too much stress and tension?

Diet & Immunity

For many people, there is an abundantly clear correlation between how healthy their diet is and how balanced and healthy their immune systems are. A good diet matters for everyone, the older you get the more it matters.

There is a lot of conflicting and even crazy advice out on diet but there is also some practical and dependable knowledge about nutrition that will not change with the next fad or fashion. If you would score yourself less than 7 out of 10 for the health of your diet then you need to put some energy into this vital subject, the key points to know are written up here.

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Food Allergy

Only some people who suffer from cystitis will have food allergies or intolerances but it must be considered as a strong possibility if there is any earlier history of eczema or asthma. Also note that if you frequently suffer from a bloated, uncomfortable belly or have a lot of allergic 'shiners', i.e. dark rings under your eyes, that you should also consider food allergies or intolerances as being a possible issue

Food allergy and intolerance is an important subject that needs a careful approach. If you need to explore this area further then start here.

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Stress & Immunity

There is no doubt that excess stress and tension can impact adversely on the immune system. Some women I have met with chronic cystitis straight away volunteer their own belief that their problems are caused by stress or at least made worse by it because they can see how they began at the exact same time as some other stressful event was happening in their lives.

If you think that this may be the case for you then never believe that it will be too big a problem to deal with. The detailed article on anxiety and tension here on the website has a number of practical tools that have been seen to be successful every time a person applies themselves to doing the work, it's here.

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Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general as well as helping you to treat and prevent cystitis.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences, there is a brief introduction to the subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd