The true golden rule
“Make sure you wipe from the front to the back”, my mother called out to me when she discovered I had ventured off to the toilet on my own for the first time. And, because she knew I was one of those inquisitive (annoying) kids that always had to know ‘why’ things were done a particular way, she told me: “Otherwise you’ll get the bugs from your poo up your fanny”! I literally stopped dead in my tracks and thought: now, that would have been a valuable piece of information to know going in…
We women have some serious short-comings
Not only do we have short urethras (compared to men) but our vaginas are far too close to our bottoms. This makes it very easy for the faecal bugs to migrate there. We can also transfer critters from our anus to our vaginas through having sex. (To minimise this problem, make sure you urinate straight after engaging in this activity.)
Once inside our vaginas, faecal bacteria may ascend the urethra – causing infection (urethritis). This bacteria can also climb higher and set up camp in our bladder – causing bladder infection (cystitis). The fear then is that the bacteria will climb even higher to our kidneys, causing kidney infection (pyelitis or pyelonephritis). This is a serious health concern, and if not treated appropriately, the kidneys can be severely damaged.
There’s a first time for everything
I am proud to say that I have solemnly adhered to the ‘golden rule’ ever since mama said. However, I did get my first ever UTI earlier this year – in my fourth decade on the planet! At first I struggled to believe that moi would have such an infection; considering my impeccable toilet hygiene habits. I also wondered – if I wasn’t a Naturopath, would I have known exactly what was occurring ‘down there’?
Note: You are more susceptible to infections if you are under long-term stress and/or your immune system is compromised.
Here’s what you can expect with a UTI
- Urinary urgency
- Urinary frequency
- Painful urination
- Fever (not always)
- Strong or foul smelling urine
- Lower abdominal discomfort
- Blood-tinged, cloudy or dark urine (sometimes)
Note: If there is kidney involvement, you will experience deep lower-back pain + fever. You may also experience a severe headache.
She won’t be right, mate!
At the first ‘whiff’ of an UTI, get yourself onto a good herbal formula. A good formula will contain a number of herbs to treat your UTI holistically. It will contain herbs such as:
- Echinacea, Andrographis and/or Holy Basil – to enhance general immunity (to fight infection)
- Buchu + Bearberry/Uva Ursi, Couch Grass and Golden Seal – to act as urinary tract antiseptics. Cranberry is also a powerful urinary tract antiseptic (used as a supplement; in a capsule, liquid or powdered form).
- Bladderwrack, Couch Grass, Corn Silk, Marshmallow and/or Licorice – to act as urinary demulcents (to soothe the tissues)
- Craetaeva – to strengthen the bladder (to improve bladder emptying)
Note: Having residual urine in the bladder, from incomplete voiding, can be the underlying cause of recurrent UTIs.
Additionally, you can support your immune system by doing the following:
- Slow down and rest often (sleep if possible)
- Drink between 1.5-3.0L of filtered water over the course of the day to increase urinary flow
- Reduce your food intake to approx. one half – two thirds of what you would normally eat
- Eliminate all sugar (including juices + honey)
- Take a good quality Multi-vitamin + Vitamin C
Note: Treating long-term bladder infections requires determining the underlying cause.
IMPORTANT: In most cases, a bladder infection is not a serious health complaint. However, there is the threat of this type of infection reaching your kidneys. In an acute infection (abrupt onset) rather than a chronic infection (long-term issue), it is always advised that if you do not achieve significant results within 12-24 hours of taking your natural remedies, if your symptoms worsen, or if you experience kidney pain you should seek medical help.
Lisa Fitzgibbon, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist
Lisa Fitzgibbon is a qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath + Medical Herbalist. She draws on her professional training + experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice. Lisa writes the popular health blog: www.lisasaid.so.
BioBalance Cranberry Herbal Complex is a unique formula combining six urinary tonic herbs designed to support the natural protection and balanced ecology of a bladder and urinary tract. BioBalance Cranberry Cleanse Powder is a tasty blend of 100% certified organic cranberry and beetroot powders providing support for urinary and bladder health. You can buy them now from our secure online shop.
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Do you suffer from urinary tract discomfort? What natural health remedies do you find working for you?