A bladder infection, also called cystitis, is a type of urinary tract infection that affects the lower urinary system where the bladder is located.
This is very different than the second type called an upper urinary tract infection or pyelonephritis which involves the kidneys. The acronym UTI often refers to acute cases of a lower urinary tract infection.
Typically, the process of urination flushes out any harmful bacteria before it can infect the bladder. However, in certain situations, these microbes can attach to the inner walls of the urinary tract and form a biofilm resistant to natural immune responses. Uropathogenic bowel bacteria found in human stool are frequently the culprit.
The female reproductive anatomy and shorter urethra make women more susceptible to bladder infections than men.
Symptoms often include painful urination, urge to urinate with and empty bladder, cloudy urine and potential discomfort in this region. And, in fact, sometimes no symptoms are present even though a urine test may indicate a positive result.
Regardless, it is a health issue that needs immediate attention by a qualified health professional or by using natural home remedies when approved by your physician. Conveniently, self-testing kits are available online for those who tend to be asymptomatic.
While antibiotics are typically prescribed to get rid of a lower urinary tract infection, if taken repeatedly over a 6-month period immune response can weaken and the bacteria involved (commonly E. coli) can increase resistance, leaving one vulnerable to future episodes.
That's where some natural remedies might also come in handy to have in your arsenal of choices. Here is our list of superfoods in the form of foods, drinks, herbs and vitamins that you may wish to supplement with as a preventative as well as during the healing process.
D-MANNOSE, a simple sugar found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables, is one of the most well-known supplements utilized in the holistic health community as an effective aid in acute cystitis management.
Because it protects against initial infection, we personally always have it on hand as a type of first aid item when symptoms of a UTI begin to appear. The powder or encapsulated supplement is also a good one to take as a preventative if you tend to get them easily, especially after intercourse.
The recommended dose amounts are 2g/day as a preventative and 3g/day when active. It is often recommended to keep taking 1g a day for a week after symptoms have gone.
Cranberry juice has long been reputed to protect against UTIs, particularly those caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria which accounts for about 80–85% of the cases.
The main tannic compounds known as A-TYPE PROANTHOCYANIDINS in cranberries have been shown to prevent adhesion or sticking of uropathogenic bacteria to the urinary tract lining inhibiting colonization.
Pure unsweetened cranberry juice is best consumed as a preemptive approach to help decrease the risk of getting a UTI.
Since women are more prone to recurrent UTIs, females may benefit the most from cranberry juice or powdered concentrate supplementation.
After a bladder infection has occurred, cranberry-derived antioxidant polyphenols like URSOLIC ACID can provide relief with an anti-inflammatory influence on the urinary system.
Some health experts recommend spacing out one quart of unsweetened cranberry juice a day for a UTI, but less can be consumed as a preventative course of action.
Long before antibiotics, uva ursi and manzanita leaf tea or tinctures were a valued herbal remedy for UTIs. Taken as soon as symptoms are noticeable, both these herbs work interchangeably (from the same genus Arctostaphylos) to combat urinary bacteria.
These leaves contain an antiseptic and diuretic compound known as ARBUTIN, which is thought to be the main component responsible. Antiseptic herbs cleanse the system while diuretic properties help to increase urinary flow beneficial for removing these microbes.
Strained tea decoctions are believed to benefit urinary mucous membranes and soothe inflammation in this region. Teas, tinctures or extracts are recommended for periodic use, only during recovery.
When you have a bladder infection or UTI, the bladder is typically inflamed. Ayurvedically speaking, this is a Pitta condition causing excess heat, which is why there is usually a burning sensation upon urination.
Cucumbers are known for their energetically cooling nature, hence the popular phrase "cool as a cucumber."
The cooling bitter quality comes from the CUCURBITACINS, particularly Cucurbitacin C, which is found in the fruit but especially in the thick dark green peel.
Juicing cucumber with its peel is a great way to concentrate these medicinally cooling compounds and create a soothing therapeutic juice for the urinary system and inflamed cystitis.
Another exceptionally cooling mucilaginous food to consume when a UTI strikes is aloe vera gel. This is a good time to pick up one of those fresh aloe leaves you might have seen at your local produce market.
While they might be a bit more work, in our opinion, nothing beats freshly filleted aloe.
This gel can be added to smoothies or blended up with mentioned cranberry and cucumber juice for a bladder infection healing drink.
While generally, you want to avoid heating foods, garlic can be an exception to this rule. That's because of its powerful antimicrobial qualities long valued medicinally throughout many healing systems of the world.
As one of the top natural antibiotics known to humankind, fresh pressed garlic can be a potent household medicinal particularly known to be of benefit for sparking immune functions and clearing out unwanted bacteria.
If you are sensitive to raw garlic, garlic extracts like Kyolic might be another alternative that's less heating to the body.
Adding lots of freshly chopped parsley to your meals can be beneficial when you're healing from a UTI. Parsley leaves are a natural diuretic and cleanser that will help to flush out the infection.
In traditional European or Western herbalism, parsley leaves, juice and tea broths have historically been utilized for their supportive influence on the kidneys especially "to remove congestion."
This is partly due to its actions as a DIURETIC which encourages healthy fluid regulation and elimination.
Hibiscus tea is known for its cooling anti-inflammatory influence on humans who consume it and can therefore help to cool a burning urinary tract infection.
Also called "roselle drink", hibiscus tea was observed to lower the incidence of UTIs in long-term care facilities.
To make it add dried hibiscus flowers to hot water. It is beneficial to drink either hot or cold. It's a good way to get more liquids into the body and it's also a source of vitamin C preserved within the tea infusion. Vitamin C is often on the list of nutrients recommended for a lower urinary tract infection.
The oil in oregano leaves contains potent antimicrobial substances known as CARVACROL and THYMOL and might be one to consider adding to your herbal apothecary should the need arise.
In some research, it is shown to be one of the most effective bladder infection home remedies, especially when it's caused by E. coli bacteria.
Purchasing a quality "oil of oregano" product is often safer than trying to make your own diluted with drops of the pure essential oil as it can be harmful if you take too much.
Frequently dietary supplements are blended with other ingredients and/or diluted with olive oil. Pure oregano essential oil is a clear color and should never be consumed directly.
Most people are aware that when you have a lower urinary tract infection you need to drink lots of pure water.
Top among the bladder infection home remedies, grapefruit seed extract is an easy one to drop into the 2 or more quarts of daily recommended water intake.
Also known as GSE or citrus seed extract, it is a dietary supplement, in the form or drops or tablets, that’s produced from the seeds of the grapefruit species.
GSE contains citric acid, ascorbic acid and powerful ANTIMICROBIAL compounds like LIMONIN, NARINGIN and FURANOCOUMARIN.
One of our favorite herbalists Rosemary Gladstar has always emphasized the use of dandelion for fostering overall health of the kidneys. Although its typically thought of as a liver herb, dandelion leaves and root decoctions can be a nourishing ally to these two organs.
Since they are part of the urinary system and potentially effected by bladder issues, like cystitis, raw greens and root teas can be healthful for their bitter cooling energy and cleansing diuretic properties.
Unlike pharmaceutical diuretics which can deplete nutrients like potassium from the body, dandelion greens are rich in potassium and other minerals helpful for lessening electrolyte imbalance.
It certainly can't hurt to dose up on probiotics during a UTI, either through one's diet or as a probiotic supplement. Raw sauerkraut is a great cultured choice that's also very high in vitamin C as well as beneficial bacteria.
Because a healthy gut microbiome plays an important role in the human immune defense system, it is essential to provide proper nourishment throughout our lifetime.
Probiotic supplements with strains of Lactobacillus or Acidophilus can be used DURING a UTI, but also AFTER to protect against recurrence. This likewise helps reestablish friendly flora when antibiotics are needed.
Boil uva ursi leaf in a pot for 10 minutes then infuse other herbs.
Strain and drink 1/4C every half hour until symptoms pass or a test result for a UTI is negative.
SUGAR - Immediately stop eating all sweet foods, especially those high in refined sugar. This includes all sugary food, soda and alcohol. All these foods and drinks tend to aggravate the situation. Even sweet fruits can feed these urinary bacteria and prolong the healing process.
CAFFEINE - It is best to avoid caffeinated beverages during the course of the infection or at least drink a limited amount. If you must have some caffeine, go for green tea over coffee.
SALT and HOT SPICY FOODS - It's a good idea to reduce sodium intake at this time as well as stay away from very hot spice seasonings or chili peppers.
Water - One of the first things often prescribed is to simply drink more pure filtered water, some recommend at least a quart or two a day. This strategically helps to increase one's flow of urine and subsequently helps to filter out bacteria.
Simplify Diet - The diet should consist of mainly simple whole foods you prepare yourself. Include plenty of fresh herbs like thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro and rosemary. Parsely intake, as we mentioned, is also excellent for flushing out the urinary system. Review our list of other drinks and foods to include throughout the day.
Reduce Stress - Stress compromises the immune system and makes one vulnerable to future infections. So, you might want to consider some stress-reducing therapies such as meditation or deep breathing techniques.
Exercise - While a painful UTI can make it difficult to comfortably move the body, some people find that brisk walking to sweat and move the lymph and get the blood circulating can be very helpful.
General Hygiene - For those susceptible to getting bladder infections, females should remember to "wipe from front to back" as they say. Also, taking a shower and going to the bathroom before and after intercourse is often recommended to clean off the genitalia of possible bacteria.