UTI’s or urinary tract infections commonly occur more often in women because of their shorter urethras (vessel running from the bladder to the outside of the body) and it is easier for bacteria to enter the female anatomy. Men have the added advantage of a bacterial growth inhibitor secreted from the prostate glands.
Symptoms can include burning on urination, more frequent urges, cloudy and even blood in the urine. Many women have abdominal pain or cramping on urination too.
I believe the biggest travesty with this syndrome is that it becomes chronic because of its traditional treatment: Antibiotics- repeated antibiotics. And no one explains to the patient that each series will worsen her own self-defence.
So allow me to make this clear.
A very hot topic today is the Human Microbiome. This is the community of bacteria existing, primarily in the gastrointestinal tract (GI) which is our first line of defence against bacterial and viral invasion. It keeps us healthy. Science now knows there is a direct relationship between the strength of our microbiome and our immune system in total. Ingesting antibiotics kills not only the pathogenic or bad bacteria, but the beneficial ones too. More and repeated courses of these drugs lead us further and further down the rabbit hole of poor immune systems and hence repeated infections, of all kinds.
How UTI’s Occur
Over 90% of UTI’s are caused by E. Coli. (Escherichia Coli), which is a normal member of our gut flora. (And it’s not the E. Coli responsible for food poisoning; that is some altered variety.) Problems arise when too much E.Coli is allowed to adhere to the walls of your bladder and tract.
They do this by having particular finger-like projections on the outside of their cells (fimbria) which have a sticky protein-sugar complex called lectin on them and that clings like Velcro to the lining tissues of the bladder, urethra and sometimes working their way up to the kidneys. This is because these linings are full of mannose, also a naturally occurring sugar, which is hugely attractive to lectin.
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The key here is keeping the E. Coli under control and that means an overall good microbiome and immune response, and a little ‘trick’ explained below.
How to Prevent UTI’s
We’ve all heard of drinking cranberry juice to help protect us from these UTI’s but in fact, you need a large amount and that results in greater levels of the sugars used to sweeten the juice to palatability and the fructose, another simple sugar to be avoided, which is inherent in the cranberry itself.. Very counterproductive as this enhances the growth of the very bacteria we’re trying to fight.
The good news is that the effective element in the cranberry has been identified. It’s D-mannose, a naturally occurring sugar which binds to the lectin so the bacteria can’t stick to the urinary tract tissues. While many would ask, “But I thought we were supposed to avoid sugars?”, what one needs to understand is that D-mannose is not regular mannose. It’s a different structure and so is not well absorbed by our bodies.
Because it’s very minimally absorbed, most of it passing through to the kidneys and then to your bladder where it does its great work. It doesn’t produce any negative effects to your blood sugar and, as it isn’t killing bad bacteria, just making it so those bacteria can’t live in your urinary tract. Hence we don’t have to worry about it killing good bacteria, either. Perfect.
So by taking D-mannose, which is sort of an imposter to regular mannose, the bacteria will happily latch onto that, and be flushed into the toilet bowl, harming none. So it’s a bit of a trick on the E. Coli, but very beneficial to you.
Other things to do
- Drink plenty of clean, good quality water
- Don’t wait to urinate, go as soon as you feel the need.
- Avoid any feminine hygiene sprays
- Eat very few, if any processed foods.
It goes without saying that if you’ve taken antibiotics, replenishing your GI microbiome is a must. However, we now know this is more complicated than originally thought. If you’ve taken repeated series of these meds, I’d highly recommend talking to a knowledgeable practitioner about reculturing, but here’s a start for you.
Super dosing of probiotics can, in fact, complicate things in very challenged people who have severe leaky gut or gastrointestinal inflammation in that these ‘good’ guys, which remember are ONLY meant to live in the GI, cross over into your system and result in infections. So be cautious to maintain the recommended doses and I’d stay away from capsules which contain 20 billion units of a strain if you suffer from these associated problems.
It may be much better to take a lower dose capsule and augment with food, which is how mankind kept their flora in good shape throughout the ages. Organic high potency yogurts, buttermilk, kefir, (preferably without fruit added-better to add your own organic berries), and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, homemade pickles and chutneys.
My Favourite Homeopathic Remedies for UTI’s
Cantharis, Belladonna, Sepia, Apis are my top remedies, although as in anything with homeopathic selection, the remedy must match the symptoms. Checking with a homeopath is always a good choice, or if none are available to you, read in a good materia medica to help yourself.
Goldenrod (Solidago), Bearberry Leaf (Uva-Ursi) and Stinging Nettle Leaf: (Urtica Dioica) are my choice of herbal treatments. These are all healing, soothing and help decrease the inflammation of the tissues. Making a tea and drinking it three times per day helps many women. You can also use the tinctures. Dry herbs in capsules are unfortunately not very effective as we as humans lack the enzymes in our digestive systems to effectively extract the active components of the herbs.
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