Managing and Preventing UTI’s Naturally
Although highly unpublicized urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are the most common form of bacterial infection in the United States, accounting for more than 7 million office visits, one million emergency room visits, over 100,000 hospitalizations every year , costing over 1.6 billion dollars annually. --Dr. Betsy Foxman, Ph.D, University of Michigan
When you read the caption above two question come to mind. The first is, why does a disorder of this magnitude seem so surprising, and secondly, why isn’t it publicized more?
The answer here may be in the fact that this malady isn’t as threating as the big killers like cancer and heart disease and as cited by Dr. Betsy Foxman at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Michigan urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are not reportable diseases. However, upon closer examination, this disorder which in many cases becomes a chronic condition for a large segment of the female population, it has some disturbing and life altering symptoms and in some cases can lead to kidney failure. In fact, research from a number of studies reveals that all one third of all women here in the United States (US) will contract a UTI by the age of 24 and afterwards the risk of reoccurring infections will increase by 20%. Kidney failure can occur when harmful bacteria like e. coli and staphylococcus travel up the urethra ( the long tubing urine flows through) and lodges itself there, ultimately making its way down into the kidneys. This sometimes this silent non-disruptive event can manifest into a complicated disorder called pyelonephritis and infect the kidneys. Despite the name of this disorder, urinary tract infection, this contamination itself can occur anywhere within the urinary system. The urinary system comprises the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. While the majority of infections do occur in the lower urinary tract, the urethra and the bladder, known as cystitis, infections occurring in the bladder can be very painful. While these infections are usually caused by bacteria and treated medically with antibiotics, they can disrupt normal lifestyle routines and habits. While the signs and symptoms can vary, some common signs of this disorder are:
Intense burning and pain while urinating.
Continual need to urinate.
Bacteria present in the urine.
Bloody or cloudy urine, with a heightened robust, pungent smell.
Other signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and pelvic pressure. Long term chronic inflammation from pyelonephritis can poison body tissues and the bloodstream which can have fatal consequences known as sepsis.
Silence Isn’t Always Golden
One of the major underlining problems here is the fact that sometimes these symptomatic signals are very faint, in which case the fire alarm never goes off , hence the expression of dangerous complications. While the components of the urinary systems as listed above are designed to eliminate and reduce toxins, bacteria at times that enter the urinary system can multiply. When these irritants multiply faster than they are eliminated, painful UTI’s can occur. Despite the conventional use of antibiotics to treat this condition, they pose the threat of questionable long-term positive outcomes by generating problematic syndromes in the aftermath such as: increasing the likelihood of additional outbreaks ,repeated yeast infections, as a result of the destruction and imbalance of good intestinal flora, and in some cases severe digestive disorders like colitis. The other insidious fact here is that with each subsequent treatment with antibiotics due to reoccurring UTI’s and newly formed yeast infections , this promotes the development of strains of bacteria that can become antibiotic resistant . In fact, up to 39% of E. coli bacteria today are resistant to medication in community(public) acquired UTI’s. Because of the mounting problem of antibiotic resistance within medical circles many holistic health practitioners today maintain that the best course of action to best manage the myriad of established symptoms when treating UTI’s is in the administration of products and or substances that will prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract and colonizing in the first place. The renowned clinical nutritionist and Chief Science Officer at Inergetics , Carl Germano states that considering all of the factors associated with UTI development and its symptoms that a holistic multi- faceted approach is needed to properly manage this disorder. He suggest a etiquette that focuses on dietary nutrients and food proprieties that decrease adhesion of bacteria and acidify the urine, balance micro-flora, and have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Based on a wealth of past, present and emerging research there are a number of natural supplements and alternative protocols that are very effective in managing and preventing the incidence and re-manifestation of urinary tract infections cited below.
Some Natural Dietary Supplements
Early studies had attributed cranberry juice’s ability to neutralize bacteria that causes UTI’s was due to its high content of a substance known as benzoic acid. However, the general consensus today centers on cranberries ability to inhibit the adhesion of infecting bacteria to the urinary tract. Researchers now attribute the presence of fructose and a variety of phyto-nutrients like proanthocyanidins within cranberries that inhibit the adherence of the E. coli bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract. In fact, researchers at McGill University in Montreal Canada, reported that the most significant inhibition of bacterial adhesion in their studies were seen when bacteria surfaces were coated with proanthocyanidins. Conversely, researchers at Rutgers University Marucci Center of Blueberry and Cranberry Research , reported similar findings. Proanthocyanidins are powerful flavonoids that have the ability to act as and re-cycle antioxidant activity of various nutrients. Antioxidants protect cellular structures and tissues by reducing what scientists refer to as oxidative damage. This damage can be compared to taking a bit out of a apple and leaving it out on the kitchen table. When you finally return to the kitchen the exposed spot is now brown like a rust color. Eventually the entire apple will spoil. Nature gives the bright colors to fruits and vegetables to give them a way of having antioxidant protection from the sun and other natural pro-oxidants. Furthermore in a new study appearing in The Journal of Medicinal Foods scientists reported that cranberry definitively promotes the process of bacteriostasis in which colonized units of bacteria within the lining of the urinary are quickly flushed away during normal cycles of urination.
The herb dandelion is known to have a mild laxative effect and stimulates the production of bile, a digestive fluid that is manufactured and released by the liver to breakdown fats into fatty acids. This process enhances the livers functional ability to neutralize toxins and in turn taking some of the pressure off of the kidneys. Dandelion also has a mild diuretic affect thus increasing urine flow helping to rid the bladder of harmful contaminants. Dandelion also has anti-bacterial properties and is a rich source of the mineral potassium, which is lost during increased urination. Potassium is essential to maintaining proper water balance and minimizes episodes of cramping and reduces urinary tract inflammation.
The bacteria Escherichia coli that invade and adhere to the bladder wall and cause UTI’s are disabled by the natural simple sugar D-Mannose that passes through the intestinal unmetabolized ( unchanged). Based on current research data D-Mannose appears to be more effective than cranberries at dislodging E coli bacteria from the uterine walls as bacteria is attracted to sugar . However once absorbed D-Mannose heads directly to the kidney and harmful bacteria like E. coli will leave the confinds of a warm uniary tract to chow down on D-mannose. By filling the tiny protrusions or finger-like projectors called lectins, this prohibits bacteria from attaching to these sites and facilitates the removal of bacteria during urination. This is why it is important to drink plenty of water. New emerging data indicates that D-Mannose also has the ability to inhibit the entrance of annexing (invading ) bacteria into a urinary tract already under siege by harmful bacteria.
This herb has a long history of use as a diuretic and for the treatment of urinary tract infections due to its ability to reduce elevated levels of uric acid. Uva Ursi also soothes irritated and inflamed tissues as a result of the high content of a alkaloid ( naturally occurring compounds ) found in the herb known as arbutin. When arbutin is introduced to urine it is activated and forms an antibacterial agent called hydroquinone. This herbal remedy also reduces water retention and neutralizes the acidic ph of urine. In Germany Uva Ursi is an approved treatment by the Commission E, an agency similar to the Food and Drug Administration here in the U.S., to treat inflammatory conditions associated with the urinary tract.
Probiotics and The Yeast Connection
Over the last several decades the early research asserting the benefits of the maintenance of natural gut flora and its imbalance that have been associated with the manifestation of a myriad of diseases and functional disorders has been well documented. However, due to the early inquiries of Elie Metchnikoff a prominent Russian biologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris concerning the role of gut flora and immunity, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1908. He had discovered that pathogenic bacteria couldn’t survive in milk laced with the bacteria lactobacillus. It was lactobacillus the main bacteria in yogurt that transformed lactose into lactic acid, which generated a acidic environment that killed off harmful bacterial. Today, probiotics which are live microbial feed supplements that nourish, replenish and improve the actions and balance of intestinal microbial flora have been associated with improving a number of negative health ailments such as: acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, lactose intolerance, ph imbalances, diarrhea, reduced immune function to eradicating candida (yeast) and UTI infections . As a point of clarification here researchers at the Candida Wellness Center in Provo, Utah have linked over 80 specific conditions associated with the overgrowth of the microscopic yeast organism candida albicans. Minor dysfunctions such as gas/ bloating, indigestion, to chronic fatigue, mood swings, loss of sex drive, headaches/migraines, to depression, adrenal and hormonal dysfunction to a weak immune response, considered a classic sign of continual yeast infections are linked to imbalanced gut flora or friendly bacteria. Beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus, the primary probiotic in the small intestine, along with bifidobacterium ,the most prevalent in the large intestine, stops and prevents the progression of these mischiefs miscreants.
A Little Help From Some Friends
While the above supplements are probably the most well-known and widely used in managing and preventing UTI disturbances, other herbal supplements like: golden seal, garlic, parsely, rose hips (Vit C), blueberries, marshmallow, buchu, marshmallow, juniper berries, oregano, neem and olive leaf, and manzanita (a close relative of uva ursi) are also widely used. As cited in the iconic masterpiece concerning the medicinal capabilities of herbal alkaloids Back to Eden, these herbs all have varying anti-septic, anti -inflammatory, diuretic and a host of urinary infection fighting properties.
As a final point, one herbal substance gaining notoriety found in Africa and Asia is Hibiscus sabdariffa. Loaded with polyphenols ( healthy compounds found naturally in plants ) such as , flavonoids, sambubiosides, proanthocyanidins and flavonoidgossypetin, these composites have shown the ability to neutralize the ill- effects of a number of harmful bacteria that precipitate UTI’s like E.coli, staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa. Forget the scientific jargon here and remember the facts. For example ,in a six month investigational trail of 59 women with a history of frequent reoccurring UTI’s hibiscus sabdariffa had a 77% reduction in UTI infections. Researchers are excited about these results as this synergistic combination of alkaloids found in hibiscu’s appears to exert comparable antimicrobial actions similar to the antibiotic drug chloramphenicol, however without any side effects ( diarrhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting and possible fatal blood disorders).
Reduce and Avoid
To reduce the pain and burning associated with UTI’s blend the following green vegetables, cucumber, celery and parsley into a juice. This vegetable mixture cools and reenergizes the kidneys having both a strong detoxifying and diuretic effect. Drink this vegetable tonic judiciously throughout the day. During an episode, try avoiding high protein foods for several days, as they are acidic and focus on consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables that are alkaline and can reduce acidity, and harmful levels of uric acid. Uric acid is a waste product and can damage your kidneys. Also, drink plenty of fresh clean water at least 2 to 3 quarters daily and urinate as soon as the urge to do so occurs. Dr Nabet G. Kasabian, MD, FACS, a urologist at Cooper University Hospital in Camden NJ suggest that women take more showers instead of baths and use mild unscented soaps. He also recommends wiping genitals from the front to the back, and avoiding the use of scented sprays and lotions in the vaginal area to avoid contracting UTI’s. Additionally, avoid sugar and sweets as much as possible and make sure any juices you drink are sugar free or unsweetened, as the sugar will only serve as a breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. Dr. Cass Ingram the world wide famous author of Natural Cures For Killer Germs, who serves as a consultant to The World Health Organization on natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs also concurs with the nutritional assessment above. He maintains that it is critical to change the diet and eliminate refined sugars, simple carbohydrates and consume more fresh fruits and vegetables. He also suggest eliminating pesticide and steroid harvested meats and to switch to a diet that utilizes natural or organically raised meat products as well as organic milk and egg products.
Urinary tract infections should be treated and not left unattended. If the infection reaches the kidneys and infects these organs, this can become very serious. At the first signs or symptoms of this disorder consult with your healthcare provider. The most advantageous thing you can do to prevent the manifestation and return of this disorder is to make the necessary lifestyle changes outlined here and or in other holistic orientated research and treatment forums and or settings.
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Dr. George Redmon
Urinary tract infections should be treated and not left unattended. If the infection reaches the kidneys and infects these organs, this can become very serious.