UTI’s (urinary tract infections) also referred to as cystitis, result from a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the bladder or urethra, causing symptoms such as frequent urges to urinate with pain on urination, and dark and unusual smelling pee. If left untreated it can lead to kidney infections at which point a fever is likely.
Females are most commonly affected, but it affects men as well. Normally when urine is excreted from the kidneys, it’s free from bacteria and it flushes out any small amount of bacteria that may be in the urethra as it’s passed. However, sometimes bacteria in the urinary tract overwhelm the body’s defenses and multiply, causing infection.
Other causes may be ignoring the urge to urinate, pregnancy, or a lack of personal hygiene. A condition called honeymoon cystitis can be another cause and as the name suggests, is the result of frequent sexual activity. There are plenty of herbs, foods and drinks that can help prevent UTI’s, such as the ones listed below.
A wonderful, natural medicine, immunity-boosting garlic helps to eliminate the E-coli bacteria, along with others indicated in cystitis. Raw garlic is much more effective than cooked, so chop it finely and sprinkle it over salads or into dressings; or eat whole cloves if you can bear it. Alternatively, take garlic as a supplement.
To help kill off the bad bacteria of a UTI and help restore the balance in your system eat organic, live plain yogurt, as it contains beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that help to recolonize your system with good flora. This is especially important if you’ve been taking antibiotics.
Asparagus is beneficial for urinary tract infections as it is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production, which helps flush harmful bacteria from the urinary tract. It’s also been shown to inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria and has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the inflammation of the urinary tract.
Broccoli is a good choice for helping to prevent UTIs as it’s very high in immune-boosting vitamin C and is alkalizing to the body, which helps deter the bacteria that produce UTIs as they find it difficult to thrive in an alkaline environment. Broccoli contains a myriad of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients that that make it beneficial for helping to prevent or treat UTIs.
Coconut oil is beneficial for UTIs as it has potent anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to being a rich source of vitamins and minerals that assist the repair of damaged tissue. Use liberally as cooking oil, mixed into smoothies, or as an alternative to butter.
As one of the most powerful probiotics, kefir benefits urinary tract infections as it helps eliminate the bacteria that cause infection while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, thus helping to boost the body’s immune system. Kefir is thought to contain more strains of good bacteria than yogurt! Kefir can be made at home using kefir ‘grains’ (a fermentation starter, containing yeasts and bacteria) and either milk, coconut water or fruit juice.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in oily fish such as mackerel. Fish oils are known to help reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system, both helpful to reduce the inflammation and eliminate the bacteria that cause UTIs. Try to eat oily fish 2-3 times a week as part of your nutrition plan to help prevent or manage UTIs.
Celery seeds contain a pungent volatile oil known as apiol which is a phenolic ether. Apiol is an effective urinary antiseptic and diuretic. It is valuable in the treatment of any urinary or kidney based infections and will target the root cause of the infection in addition to encouraging diuresis and expulsion of any congested toxicity through the urine. Apiol is also effective in treating muscular spasms, such as those associated with menstrual cramping and pain common in musculoskeletal conditions.
Vitamin C is an important vitamin in all cases of infection, and it also helps to boost immune activity. Many studies have shown that vitamin C helps to increase immune function. In the case of cystitis, vitamin C has been shown particularly to inhibit the growth of E. coli. Buy the vitamin C in an ascorbate alkaline form (the label will read magnesium ascorbate). If the label says ‘ascorbic acid’, it will be too acidic for cystitis sufferers.
In order to fight off infections without the need for antibiotics, and to prevent further infections causing cystitis, you will need to strengthen your immune system. Echinacea is the herb of choice here, as it has been shown to increase the white blood cell count and activity in order to effectively engulf bacteria and viruses. Echinacea appears to be more effective when taken on and off. I suggest taking it for 10 days, then taking a break of three days before repeating for another 10 days. CAUTION: You should not take any of the recommended herbs if you are taking, The Pill, Fertility drugs, HRT or any other hormonal treatment or other medication unless they are recommended by a registered, experienced practitioner.
Zinc is an important mineral for the immune system and it needs to be taken both when an infection is present and to prevent a recurrence. It is recognised for it anti-infectious properties (in other words, it can help to prevent an infection from taking hold).