Herbs to Keep Your Bladder Healthy

November 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm  •  0 Comments

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A bladder infection is a type urinary tract infection in which bacteria travel from the urethra to the bladder to infect the cells that line the bladder. Urinary tract infections are typically caused by Escherichia Coli or E. Coli. E. Coli is a bacteria that naturally resides in the large intestine which can become transferred from the rectum to the urinary tract with improper wiping techniques after a bowel movement.

To prevent bladder infections it is suggested to always wipe from front to back. Bladder infections can affect both men and women. However, women are 3 times more likely to have had a urinary tract infection than men. This could be due to women having an anatomically shorter urethra than men. A shorter urethra means that the bacteria have a short distance to travel to reach the bladder. Conventionally, bladder infections are treated with antibiotics and medications to help reduce the pain.

There are herbs and supplements that may be helpful to prevent and treat urinary tract infections.

Cranberry and Blueberry

Cranberry and blueberry contain compounds that may be helpful to prevent urinary tract infections. Scientific studies have suggested that the compounds, fructose and proanthocyanidin within both fruit, prevent E. Coli from sticking to the urinary tract walls and multiplying. Therefore, for people who are prone to urinary tract infections, including these fruit juices as part of a healthy diet, may be helpful.

As a naturopathic doctor, when I make recommendations to patients regarding cranberry or blueberry juice, I recommend plain, unsweetened juice. It is important to avoid the extra sugar whenever possible as sugar on its own can suppress the activity of your white blood cells, important components of your immune system. Cranberry extract is also available in capsule form.

Echinacea

Echinacea has a long history of use in North America and Germany. Due to its anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing properties, it is often recommended by herbalists and naturopathic doctors for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections. Echinacea is available over the counter in many forms including liquid extract, tea and capsule. However, as with any herbal remedy, it is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner with knowledge of herb quality to ensure that the product you purchase is pure and actually contains the active ingredients and the correct species of Echinacea.

Echinacea is usually dosed multiple times a day with food. However, the dosing recommendations will depend on the case.

Uva Ursi

This evergreen shrub, known for its bright red berries, is one of the most popular herbs used for the treatment of urinary tract infections. Scientists believe that the tannin and hydroquinone component of the herb help to strengthen the mucous membranes that line the urinary tract and to reduce the inflammation associated with infection. As with most herbal preparations, due to its potential to interact with medications and to cause liver irritation and damage, it is important to speak to a healthcare provider before taking this herb.

Goldenseal

Hydrastis Canadensis or Goldenseal is a perennial herb with a long history of use by Native North Americans for the treatment of infections, skin conditions, upper respiratory disorders and ulcers. Goldenseal contains berberine a plant chemical which exhibits its antibacterial effect similar to cranberry and blueberry; by inhibiting E. Coli from binding to the walls of the bladder. In the large intestine, berberine may also decrease the concentration of E. Coli bacteria which can indirectly reduce the risk of bladder infection by reducing the likelihood of E. Coli spread from the large intestine to the urethra. Goldenseal is available in combination with Echinacea and also on its own as an alcohol extract and in capsule form.

It is always important to check with your doctor before taking herbs and supplements. If you believe you have a urinary tract infection, see your doctor for a test called a urinalysis and to discuss your treatment options. If you are prone to recurring urinary tract infections consider incorporating these herbs into your health regimen.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit - www.oroseND.com