Bladder infections are usually caused by bacteria (mainly E.coli) getting into the Urethra and/or Bladder, resulting in cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder lining. If left untreated, cystitis can lead to a kidney infection which can cause damage to the kidney's. Because in women the urethra is very close to the vagina and the anus, bacteria can much more easily travel to the urethra resulting in an infection.
Symptoms and Causes of Cystitis
Symptoms of a bladder infection include a constant desire to empty the bladder, painful urination (dysuria), an inability to empty the bladder, frequent urination and pain or pressure in the lower back or abdomen. The urine may be cloudy and have an unpleasant smell. Blood in the urine warrants urgent medical attention.
The cause of Cystitis can vary, but one of the main reasons is the presence of E.Coli in the urethra. This can be caused by carrying the E.Coli from the anus to the entrance of the urethra. In women it is important that you wipe from front to back to help eliminate this from happening.
Sexual intercourse can also be a contributor due to the natural build up of bacteria in the genital region in both men and women. Urinating after sexual intercourse can help to flush out bacteria transfered during intercourse. Anal sex can also lead to Cystitis. The use of the condom is highly recommended to help avoid this.
Oral contraceptives and antibiotics tend to wipe out alot of the good bacteria in our body. Our good bacteria in our body helps to keep everything balanced, and when an imbalance occurs the change of infection is higher. It is highly recommended to take a probiotic during and after antibiotic use to help keep the balance in the body.
Stress and diet may also have a part to play in developing cystitis. Stress can cause an acidic enviroment in the body that bad bacteria thrives on, and a diet high in sugar, yeast and fermented foods can feed the bad bacteria in the body. This can inturn create an unfriendly, acidic enviroment.
What can I do if I get a Bladder Infection?
There are lots of products on the market that can help with a Bladder or Urinary Tract Infection, but these are a combination of our preferred products.
Probiotics are also very important, as they help to "kill" the bad bacteria and repopulate the good bacteria. Ethical Nutrients have brought out a probiotic called Candex. Candex contain specific forms of probiotics that have been clinically trialed to show that they can support a healthy bacteria/flora balance. This probiotic can be taken orally, or inserted for faster adherance.
Ethical Nutrients also have a product called Urinary Tract Support. This product contains 3 Chinese herbs traditionally used for the symptomatic relief of Cystitis. Rosa laevigata is known for its astringent, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Japanese Climbing Fern helps with painful urinary disfunction and infection and with blood or "sand" in the urine. It can also help with filtration through the kidneys. China Root has been used traditionally to treat STD's like syphilis and gonorrhoea. It helps to promote the elimination of waste through the liver and kidneys and improves kidney function. It can also help as an anti-microbial, antiseptic and antipruritic (relieves itch)².
Artemis Kidney Cleanse Tea helps your kidneys and bladder to function at their optimal level. It's flushing action is the equivalent of taking an "internal shower". Especially useful for flushing urinary pathogens and irritants in cystitis, bladder leakages and oedema as well as inflammatory by-products in arthritis and gout. At the same time it alkalises your body and provides essential minerals to assist in the detoxification process.
Malcolm Harker fans will also know about his tonic Bladder Support (formally known as Urinurse). This formua is a traditional blend of herbs to help support a healthy fluid balance and cool, cleanse and revitalise tissues under stress. It contains a combination of herbs that have natural antiseptic and cleansing properties, for a healthy urinary tract. It is also suitable for both male and female urogenital health.
Most people would have heard about having Cranberry Juice. This can help, but due to the sugar content that is in most juices including Cranberry Juice, you must air on the side of caution about drinking litres of juice. D-Mannose, which is found in most fruit like peaches, pineapples, apples, oranges, blueberries and most commenly known, cranberries, can be purchsed in concentrated products, and can be taken as a powder, which eliminates the side effects from ingesting large quanitites of fruit.
What is D-Mannose and How Does It Work?
The “cell walls” of each E. coli are covered with tiny fingerlike projections. The very tips of these projections are an amino acid-sugar complex, a “glycoprotein” also called a “lectin”. E. coli “lectins” have the unfortunate (for us) capability of “sticking” the bacteria to the inside walls of our bladders and urinary tracts, so they can’t be rinsed out by urination.
Unfortunately for the E. coli, D-mannose “sticks” to E. coli lectins even better than E. coli lectins “stick” to human cells. When we take a large quantity of D-mannose, almost all of it spills into the urine through our kidneys, literally “coating” any E.coli present so they can no longer “stick” to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract. The E. coli are literally rinsed away with normal urination!¹
What can I do nutritionally?
An acid environment in the body can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Following an alkalising diet can help to keep the body in balance and encourage the growth of good bacteria. View our suggestions for an alkalising diet here.
Candida albicans can cause an unfriendly environment in our body and can contribute to urinary discomfort in some people. Avoiding yeast, sugar and fermented foods can help. You can read more information about Candida, how it affects our bodies and dietary changes that can help reduce a candida overgrowth in our body here.
It is important at all times to drink an adequate amount of water, to help your kidneys to flush out toxins. Drink 3 litres of water a day during the acute attack, and ensure that you are drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water a day at other times (including at additional 750ml for every hour of exercise).
As E.coli is one of the main causes of bladder infections, making sure that you wipe from front to back when emptying the bowel and bladder to deter the transport of bacteria into the urethra.
Avoid the use of douches, bubble baths and perfumed soaps as these can further irritate the area. Wear white cotton underwear, avoid nylon and wear loose fitting pants while acute to avoid irritation.
In men, bladder infections may signal a more serious problem such as prostatitis.
Bladder and Urinary infections are not to be taken lightly. Ensure that you contact your healthcare professional at the first sign of symptoms. If at any time blood is present in the urine, contact your healthcare professional immediately.
Nutritional Almanac, Gayla and John Kirschmann
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, James and Phyllis Balch
The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition, Henry Osiecki
¹ - Excerpt taken from http://tahomaclinic.com/2011/01/d-mannose-for-bladder-and-kidney-infections/
² - Information gained from Ethical Nutrients Technical Data Manual "Chinese Herbal Support for Urinary Disturbances"