Cystitis, bladder infections, and urinary problems affect millions of people every year. These infections can be severe or mild. Symptoms include edema (swelling), painful urination, frequent urination, cloudy urine, fever, blood in the urine, backache, discharge, a burning sensation, nausea, and itching.
When antibiotics just don't seem to work, medicinal herbs and home remedies can help! Herbal remedies for urinary infections usually include an antiseptic herb to reduce bacteria, soothing herbs to reduce painful inflammation, and diuretic herbs to increase urine flow. Increasing urine flow is especially important during the last stages of healing -- to flush out toxins and to expel dead bacteria. Increasing urine flow is also important when treating edema. To avoid dehydration, always drink plenty of water when taking diuretic herbs.
Causes of bladder and urinary tract infections range from poor hygiene to overuse of antibiotics. Eighty-five percent of bladder infections are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacteria is spread from the rectal area when wiping the wrong way with toilet paper. Always wipe from front to back. When this bacteria passes through the urethra (the narrow canal that connects the bladder to the outside), it causes a bladder infection.
Reoccurring urinary infections can be a nightmare and sometimes bacteria is not the culprit (it could be yeast overgrowth in your bladder). When antibiotics seem to offer little relief (they don't kill yeast), try herbal remedies. Herbal remedies have been time-tested over centuries and usually have no side effects when used properly.
Use sandalwood essential oil , juniper essential oil, cypress essential oil, thyme essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, or lavender essential oil diluted with olive or almond oil as a carrier and gently massage stomach area. These essential oils can also be used in the bath. For associated back pain try applying a hot comfrey compress across the lower back.
The urinary system is made up of two kidneys, two ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. Urinary disorders include everything from bed wetting to bladder cancer. Bladder infections, kidney infections, cystitis, urinary stones, and incontinence account for millions of doctor visits every year.
Many times bladder infections and yeast overgrowths develop after taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can weaken the immune system which is then unable to fight off infections. When taking antibiotics, always supplement diet with immune building herbs.
Bladder infections may reoccur when the immune system is weak. Antibiotics do not usually help in these cases and may actually attack the bladder lining. Try taking astragalus on a regular basis to build immunity before infection strikes. Over use of antibiotics can also cause yeast overgrowth -- known as candidiasis -- in the urinary system, especiailly the bladder. Symptoms are a lot like a bladder infection but since yeast is more like a fungus, antibiotics just make it worse.
Venereal disease, endometriosis, stress, contraceptives, kidney malfunction, food allergens, aluminum cookware, constipation, yeast overgrowth, and female deodorant products can all cause urinary problems. Bladder infections can also be caused by waiting too long to urinate. The bladder is a muscle that stretches when full and shrinks when empty. “Holding it” can cause the bladder to stretch past its capacity, eventually trapping old urine in the bladder resulting in bacterial growth. To keep the bladder healthy, keep the urethra area clean and allow air to flow freely whenever possible. Do you have access to a private patio or deck? Baring it all to the sunshine for a few minutes can help keep things healthy.
Many urinary disorders can be treated with herbal remedies. Various herbs are chosen according to their ability to reduce inflammation, soothe pain, repair damage, and flush out toxins. Yellowroot tea is especially suited for treating the whole urinary system.
At the first sign of a urinary or bladder problem, drink yellowroot or echinacea tea and increase your urine flow by drinking lots of water. Chamomile tea, corn silk tea, dandelion tea, nettle tea, and fennel seed can help increase urine flow and reduce the risk of edema (swelling due to water retention). Add flax seed oil, blueberries, watermelon, green drinks, carrots, beets, cucumbers, and yogurt to the diet.
Urinary stones in the bladder call for gravel root (Joe Pye Weed), parsley, corn silk, cleavers, and couch grass. In extreme cases, or when there is lots of pain or high fever, seek emergency care. Stones can also develop in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain that usually comes in waves that last up to an hour and then stop. In cases of tumors or cysts there may not be any early symptoms if flow of urine is not blocked.
Cranberry juice prevents most bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls. Cranberry juice contains natural antibiotics and is an effective diuretic. Be sure not to buy anything labeled “cocktail” as it contains lots of sugar and apple juice or other additives. Try shopping at a health food store and reading food labels to find pure cranberry juice. Avoid any juice with high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Pure cranberry juice can help heal and prevent urinary tract disorders. Drink 16 ounces spread throughout the day for best results.
Also try D-Mannose for bladder and urinary infections. It can be purchased in capsule form at health food stores. Follow directions on package. D-Mannose works when other supplements, herbs, and prescription pills don't.
Cranberries only contain small amounts of citric acid. Acidic fruit juices, such as orange and grapefruit juice, should be avoided because they can irritate the whole urinary system. Sugar, carbonated drinks, concentrated starches, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, salty foods, pasteurized dairy products, and red meat all aggravate bladder problems. Yeast products should be avoided during healing stages of bladder infections. A little lemon or lime is OK but don't overdo.
Cranberries have lots of benzoic acid. Apples have malic acid. Grapes have tartaric acid. These acids prevent reoccurring bladder infections by keeping the urine too acidic for bacteria like E. coli to survive. These acids do not irritate the urinary system. Eat more plums and blueberries to increase acidity. Also add garlic, nasturtium leaves, rose hips, papaya, and carrots to the diet.
To protect against urinary infection, add more celery and celery seed to the diet. Organic celery only costs a little more and is well worth the price. Celery tincture is also available in health food stores. For best results also drink bearberry, juniper berry , chamomile, or yarrow tea.
Other herbs to try include wild carrot, ura-ursi, horsetail, watermelon seeds, barley grass, alfalfa, marshmallow, stinging nettle, goldenrod, slippery elm, oregon grape root, and hydrangea.
An old remedy for bladder infection is to immediately take one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water followed by 8 to 10 more glasses of water throughout the day. White wine at night is also considered beneficial.
To avoid bladder infections, urinate as soon as possible after sexual intercourse -- even just a few drops pushes out harmful bacteria. Never use colored toilet paper and beware most bubble baths which can have questionable ingredients.
To reduce the chance of a bladder infection, always urinate as soon as possible when you have the need to go. Drink eight glasses of water every day. Do not douche. Wipe from front to back. Do not take bubble baths. Is your bladder infection causing itching? Itching can be relieved with an application of olive oil, rosemary essential oil, and tea tree oil. Add lavender essential oil for added benefits.
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Do you pee when you laugh? Home remedies can help!
When pelvic muscles are weak, urinary incontinence may become a problem. Symptoms include leakage when laughing, coughing, sneezing, or lifting. In men, these symptoms can also indicate a prostate problem. Try exercising regularly to strengthen pelvic muscles. Exercising can really can help - try just squeezing upper thigh and pelvic muscles while driving or sitting at a desk several times a day. Exercise can really help stop embarrassing incidents. Other things such as loosing weight, good diet, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding constipation can help. Older adults are especially plagued with bladder problems. The National Institute of Aging has some helpful tips for keeping the bladder healthy as we age.
Changes that occur as we age can have an impact on the health of our bladder. See video below.
Forget bubble baths! Instead add sandalwood, tea tree, and chamomile essential oils to your bath water along with two cups of vinegar.
Bed wetting is not always a urinary disorder. Many different things can cause bed wetting -- in children and in adults. First, make sure the bladder is not irritated from drinking too many soft drinks or acidic fruit juices. Do not drink a lot of fluids after dinner and only a sip or two before bed.
Traditional Chinese medicine calls for suoquan and acupuncture. Suoquan, also known as Suo Quan Wan, has been used to treat lower urinary infections and bed wetting for centuries. Read more about Suoquan and bed wetting at the National Library of Medicine.
Persistent edema can be linked to kidney, liver, bladder, or circulatory problems.If you have edema, better known as water retention, your ankles may swell or you may feel bloated. The best remedy is to cut out added salt. Edema is a problem often caused by eating too much salt and not drinking enough water.
Parsley, dandelion, lavender, hawthorn, bilberry, echinacea, burdock, corn silk, and juniper are herbs that help get rid of excess fluid. There are many herbal remedies that help relieve occasional fluid retention. Parsley leaves, dandelion root, and lavender essential oil are very helpful. Other herbs to try include hawthorn, bilberry, burdock, and juniper. These herbs may be used in tea or purchased as extracts. Bloating is usually caused by gas and can be relieved by taking a spoonful of fennel seeds.
Edema can be caused by kidney and bladder infections, heart problems, oral contraceptives, hypothyroidism, adrenal exhaustion, protein and B vitamin deficiencies, hormonal changes, climate changes, allergies, poor circulation, potassium depletion, drug reactions, obesity, constipation, or lack of exercise. Medicinal herbs can help get rid of excess fluid and help heal underlying problems.
Symptoms include swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, and stomach. (Edema is actually a symptom of underlying causes and is not considered a disease.) Edema may be a symptom of many serious conditions including congestive heart failure.
Causes of edema must be addressed before considering any herbal treatment. This is especially important if you experience sudden swelling, swelling in just one leg, or pitting (after pressing on the area it remains indented). In these cases please seek professional advice as soon as possible or even consider a visit to the emergency room.
If you have edema, cut out the extra salt. Do not eat that whole bag of pretzels!
Corn silk tea is a powerful diuretic. All diuretics can cause imbalances in the body affecting the available salts and minerals required for good health. Never use strong diuretics if you have heart problems unless advised to do so by your healthcare professional.
A simple recipe for corn silk tea is as follows: Steep 1 tablespoon of dried silks in a cup of just boiled water for 5 minutes. Take three times a day but not before bedtime or you will be getting up throughout the night.
An excellent herbal blend consists of 2 teaspoons of dandelion root, ½ teaspoon of nettle leaf, ½ teaspoon of oat straw, ½ teaspoon of fennel seed, and ½ teaspoon of dried corn silks. Add to one pint of boiling water, turn off heat, and steep for 20 minutes. Drink up to two cups per day to relieve occasional fluid retention.
There are many ways to help edema. Adding fresh salads with cucumbers, parsley, celery, and alfalfa sprouts to the diet is a great way to improve symptoms of water retention. Avoid caffeine and drink eight glasses of water a day. Potassium supplements may be required.
Water retention may also be relieved by taking 20 minute saunas. Saunas help rid the body of toxins. They also help increase metabolism which improves circulation. Other things to try include getting some form of daily exercise (swimming is perfect), elevating the head and shoulders when sleeping, and elevating the legs when resting.
The urinary system is aggravated by sitting for long periods, standing too long in one place, and tight, restricting clothing. Always take time to stretch and exercise leg muscles throughout the day. When sitting, get up and move around every hour!
* Do not use uva-ursi for more than two weeks. Do not use uva-ursi if you have kidney disease. Avoid remedies containing dandelion if taking blood pressure or heart medicine. Always consult with a health care professional before taking any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
** Most of the articles in this online herbal encyclopedia were first published by the North Georgia News in a weekly column titled Every Green Herb (by Janice Boling).
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