Urinary tract infections, also known as UTIs, are the most common bacterial infections in people of all ages. There are 3 common types of infections of the urinary tract. Cystitis (infection of the bladder), pyelitis (infection of the kidneys), and urethritis (infection of the urethra – the tube that leads from the bladder to the exterior of the body). Most UTIs affect the bladder only.
UTIs are usually caused by bacteria that enter the body through the urethra and occur much more often in women than men. Women have a shorter urethra than do men and the anus and vagina openings are close to the urethra opening, which allows bacteria easy access to the urethra. In men, bacteria can reach the bladder either by moving up through the urethra or by migrating from an infected prostate gland.
The bacteria (which reside in the intestinal tract) that most often cause bladder and kidney infections are E. coli. The sexually transmitted bacteria; mycoplasma and chlamydia, can also cause bladder infections.
A daily mutivitamin-mineral supplement is recommended to compensate for the essential fluid intake that can flush water-soluble vitamins and minerals out of the system.
Allergic reactions and yeast infections sometimes simulate UTI symptoms; other instigators are sexual contact, infected urine sent from the kidneys to the bladder, and, in men, an infected or enlarged prostate gland.
– Chills, fever and achy feelings – especially in the back.
– Frequent urination, sometimes repeatedly during the night.
– Sudden and severe urge to urinate.
– Pain or burning sensation during urination.
– Smaller volume of urine than usual.
– Blood or pus in the urine.
– Urine may be cloudy with an unpleasant odor.
All problems of the urinary system should be diagnosed by a physician; particularly if there is abdominal pain, blood in the urine, vomiting or if a fever is present.
Although UTIs cause discomfort, they can usually be easily treated with a short course of antibiotics. The following supplements may be taken as complimentary medicine when taking a prescription antibiotic or to help prevent infections of the urinary tract.
Acidophilus restores the population of “friendly” bacteria in the intestinal tract. Take 2 capsules three times daily.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Take one to two doses of odorless garlic daily until symptoms subside.
Cranberry juice prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls. Instead, they are washed out of the body in the urine. The berries contain the chemical arbutin that has both antibiotic and diuretic actions that are useful in combating UTIs. Drink 1 quart of cranberry juice daily. Purchase pure, unsweetened juice or if preferred, cranberry capsules can be substituted. Take as directed on label.
Colloidal silver is a natural antibiotic. It destroys bacteria, viruses and fungi, and promotes healing. Take as directed on label.
Vitamin A in the form of Beta carotene assists healing and maintains the health of the urinary tract. Take 25,000 IU daily.
Vitamin B complex is necessary if antibiotics are used. Take 50 to 100 milligrams twice daily with meals.
Vitamin C acidifies the urine, which helps eliminate the bacteria. Take 1,500 or 3,000 milligrams daily in divided doses. NOTE: If you are taking an antibiotic, check with your doctor before taking vitamin C, as it may interfere with the effectiveness of the antibiotic.
Vitamin E combats infecting bacteria. Take 600 IU daily.
Potassium is needed to replace the potassium lost as a result of frequent urination. Take 99 milligrams daily.
Diuretics help to cleanse the system by promoting the release of fluids from the tissues and help to relieve the false sensations of urgency that are characteristics of bladder infection.
The herbs birch leaves, dandelion root and hydrangea in combination, are often most effective in flushing the kidneys and aiding in reducing the urgent need to urinate.
Birch leaves are a natural diuretic and reduce some of the pain associated with bladder infections.
Dandelion root is a diuretic and liver cleanser, which aids in relieving bladder discomfort.
Hydrangea is good for stimulating the kidneys and flushing them clean.
Buchu leaf helps to relieve irritation of the bladder, kidneys and urethra, it is a urinary disinfectant traditionally used to flush out and cleanse the entire urinary tract system.
Goldenseal prevents bacteria from adhering to the intestinal walls. It is good for bladder infections if there is bleeding. It is most effective as an herbal antimicrobial agent. Take 200 to 500 milligrams of standardized root in capsules or tablets 3 times daily. NOTE: Use only under a doctor’s supervision.
Juniper berry has been used in America for a couple of hundred years as a urinary antiseptic.
Other herbs that may benefit those with urinary tract infections include: angelica, blue cohosh, burdock, chaparral, cinnamon, horsetail, licorice, saw palmetto, shepherd’s purse and stinging nettle.