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Bladder Infections - by Susun Weed

“If you let that fiery wise blood just sit there in your belly, great granddaughter,” admonishes Grandmother Growth, “you'll get the urge to quench that heat. You'll get a tickle, a twinge, an urgent call. But you won't have the moisture you need. It's boiled away. It's gone up in steam.

 

“So I'll say it once more: circulate your wise blood, granddaughter. Spiral it around and up to your crown. Take action on your anger. Pleasure yourself. And you'll be one of those old crones, like me, whose eyes sparkle with mirth and flash with intention.”

 

Step 1:       Collect Information

 

Bladder infections are also known as cystitis, urethritis, and UTIs (urinary tract infections). When bacteria grow in the bladder, the resulting infection usually causes symptoms such as: a burning sensation during voiding, overwhelming urgency, frequent but minuscule urinations, incontinence, bloody urine, and pelvic pain. Up to 25 percent of bladder infections in post- menopausal women are silent or symptomless.

 

Bacteria enter the bladder in three primary ways: when feces are spread to the bladder opening (such as wiping from back to front after toileting), when the tube leading to the bladder is irritated or bruised (as from use of a diaphragm, pelvic surgery, or prolonged/vigorous vaginal penetration), or when there is an in-dwelling catheter.

 

The thinning and shrinking of reproductive and bladder tissues that may occur in the post- menopausal years contributes to bladder infections in older women, as does lessening of vaginal acidity.

 

Sometimes tiny ulcerations appear in the wall of the bladder; this is called interstitial cystitis (IC). Some of the remedies in this section are contraindicated for women with interstitial cystitis.

 

These remedies are substantially the same ones that delighted and aided the readers of my first book: Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

 

Step 2:       Engage the Energy

 

  • Flow, flow, flow. Head off that bladder infection by drinking a glass of water hourly as soon as you feel the first urgency or burning. It is tempting to stint on drinking if you find yourself unexpectedly incontinent, but don't. Bladder infections only make incontinence worse.
  • Urine is ideally neutral to slightly acidic (pH 5.8–pH 7). Very acidic urine (below pH 5.5) encourages infections. An established infection gives rise to alkaline urine (pH 7.5 or higher), which causes stinging and burning. Test your urine with pH paper at any time except first thing in the morning. Cranberry juice lowers pH; vitamin C raises it.
  • Cantharis is a homeopathic remedy for scalding urine.

 

Step 3:       Nourish and Tonify

 

  • Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) contain substances that kill bacteria and make your bladder wall so slippery that any escaping bacteria can't latch on and thrive there. Unsweetened cranberry juice (or concentrate) is the most effective form. (The sugar or corn syrup in cranberry cocktail-type juices and cran-apple juices can feed the infection.)
  • Drink freely, at least a glass a day, up to a quart/liter a day for acute infections unless your urine's pH is already low.
  • Pelvic floor exercises help prevent and relieve bladder infections too! Try this one: After urinating, close your eyes, relax, breathe out, and see if you can squeeze out an extra dribble.
  • An overgrowth of vaginal yeast may be irritating your bladder or urethra. Eat one cup of plain yogurt 4-5 times a week.

 

Step 4:       Stimulate/Sedate

 

  • Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi) is an old favorite for strengthening the bladder and ending chronic silent bladder infections. I prefer a hot water infusion of the dried leaves, but know women who have successfully used cold water infusions, tinctures, even vinegars. A dose is 1 cup/125 ml of infusion; 10-30 drops of tincture; 1 tablespoonful/15 ml of vinegar; 3–6 times a day initially, then 1–3 times a day for 7–10 days. In very chronic cases, eliminate all forms of sugar (even fresh fruit, fruit juice, and honey) for a month as well.
  • Yarrow is a urinary disinfectant with a powerful antibacterial action and an astringent effect. A small cup of the infusion, once or twice a day for 7–10 days, tones up weak, lax bladder tissues. Combines well with uva ursi. Results may be felt within hours.
  • In my experience, Echinacea purpurea and E. augustifolia are as effective as antibiotics in clearing bladder infections and do not contribute to vaginal yeast. (See Step 5b.) A dose is 1 drop echinacea tincture per 2 pounds/1 kilo body weight. (For 150 pound/70 kilo person, use 75 drops or three dropperfuls.) In acute cases, I give the dose every 2 hours. As the infection clears, I lengthen the amount of time between doses until I'm down to 1–2 doses a day, which I continue for another 2–10 weeks.
  • Women who wash their vulva with soap and water are four times more likely to get vaginal and bladder infections. Douches, bubblebaths, tampons, nylon underwear, and pantyhose may also irritate the urethra and contribute to bladder infections.
  • Known bladder irritants include: alcohol, black tea, coffee, sodas, citrus juices, chocolate, cayenne, and hot peppers. (An herbal tincture in an alcohol base won't irritate the bladder if you take it diluted in a glass of water or a cup of herb tea.)
  • Urinating after love play flushes out bacteria and cuts down on UTIs. Urinating before love play increases your risk of a bladder infection.

 

Step 5a:     Use Supplements

 

  • Ascorbic acid wrings the kidneys, flushes the bladder, and raises urinary pH. Try 500 mg hourly for 6–8 hours. CAUTION:  IC sufferers — avoid!
  • Be careful about taking calcium supplements if you are prone to bladder infections. Calcium supplements increase bacterial adherence to the bladder wall, increasing bladder infections.

 

Step 5b:     Use Drugs

 

Antibiotics are the standard medical treatment for women with bladder infections. But taking antibiotics frequently causes vaginal yeast overgrowth (which can lead to bladder infection). One — nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin) — seems to cause microscopic scarring and ulceration of the bladder wall, precipitating IC.

 

Step 6:       Break and Enter

 

Dilation of the urethra is expensive, painful, and causes tiny scars on the urethra, which may lead to interstitial cystitis. I have seen it referred to as “the rape of the female urethra”. No controlled study has shown this procedure to be effective at limiting chronic bladder infections. Do pelvic floor exercises instead.

 



Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health.

 

Visit her site  for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more or contact her at:


Susun Weed

PO Box 64

Woodstock, NY 12498

Fax:  1-845-246-8081


For permission to reprint this article, contact us at:
susunweed@herbshealing.com

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Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material contained herein is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.

 

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Browse the publishing site - Ash Tree Publishing - to learn more about her alternative health books.

 

Venture into the NEW Menopause site to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.

Or Join the Forum! Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Forum - an open space for discussion. Make yourself at home, post a message or start a discussion. This place is for you to share your questions, concerns, and comments with other wise women like you. Take a moment to register and become part of the community. Enjoy!
 

 

Susun Weed’s books include:

 

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year

Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $11.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

 
Healing Wise 

Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $17.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

 

New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD. Foreword by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $16.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on menopause, visit the site.

 
Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations.

Retails for $14.95 Order at: Ash Tree Publishing

For more great info on Breast Health, visit Susun's Breast Health site.



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