home remedies for Urinary, bladder and kidney infection

The term Urinary Tract is used to describe the urinary system.  

Image of an ear of corn with its corn silk

UTI usually refers to an infection in the lower urinary tract (ureters and urethra) whereas a bladder infection refers to an infection in the bladder.  In serious infections, the infections of the lower tract and bladder migrate to the kidneys.

E. coli bacteria is a frequent cause of bladder infections but women have other disadvantages, including a shorter urethra (not so far for the bacteria to travel) and the proximity of the vagina to the rectal area (contamination risk).

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • A change in the appearance of urine (may be cloudy or dark)
  • Bloating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Discharge
  • Fever or chills
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain in your mid torso
  • Pelvic pain in women, testicular pain in men
  • Strong odor of urine
  • Urge to urinate with minimal output
  • Vomiting

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Sometimes, antibiotics may be necessary but long-term use will lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and may result in more serious infections.

There is a condition called Vesicoureteral Reflux, which is failure of the ureter valve to close properly.  Fixing that requires surgery.

SELF TREATMENT

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and inflammation. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Blueberries
  • Bone broth
  • Cranberries or unsweetened juice
  • Garlic
  • Vitamin C rich foods
  • Yogurt

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID OR REDUCE

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Colas
  • Fragrances
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking
  • Spicy food
  • Sugars
  • Tea
  • Tomatoes

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in water two times a day for three days
  • A teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water will neutralize the acidity of your urine but don’t drink it too often as too much of this good thing becomes a poison.
  • Chamomile
  • Corn silk
  • Cream of tartar and lemon (1.5 tsp tarter in lemon or lime juice) to make the PH of your urine hostile to bacteria
  • Dandelion
  • Drink parsley water (make a tea by bringing water to a boil, adding parsley and letting it simmer for several minutes, strain and drink. You can use dried parsley but let it steep instead of simmer.
  • Ginger tea (anti-inflammatory)
  • Horsetail
  • Juniper berry
  • Marshmallow root
  • Peppermint

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Buchu is an antiseptic and diuretic.
  • Chew celery seeds (diuretic) or make some celery seed water by bringing water to a boil, adding seeds and allowing it to steep for several minutes.
  • Goldenseal is a natural antibiotic.
  • Horsetail is a diuretic.
  • Indian Gooseberry to inhibit bacteria growth
  • Marshmallow helps control inflammation.
  • Nasturtium is a natural antibiotic.
  • Oregon grape root
  • Uva Ursi, during and beyond infection

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.

  • Bergamot
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea tree oil

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • 1 tsp of grated horseradish daily–contains the antimicrobial compound AITC.
  • Apolactoferrin blocks biofilm formation
  • D-mannose
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • For the 10% or so of cases that are not caused by E. coli, it is recommended to take supplements that disrupt biofilms that attach to the lining of the urogenital tract.  If the biofilm is not completely eliminated it is likely that the infection will recur.  One such biofilm disruptor is InterFase Plus from Klaire Labs, but there are others.
  • Lauricidin for non-E. coli infections (anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial)
  • Nattokinase dissolves biofilms (caution: not safe for people with bleeding disorders or those on blood-thinning drugs).
  • Probiotics
  • Take the herb Uva Ursi (bearberry leaf) for its arbutin during infection and several days beyond.  Available in capsules.
  • Vitamin C supports your immune system and for those who believe bacteria is destroyed by acidic urine, Vitamin C will acidify the urine

HYDRATION

Increase your usual water intake to help flush the system (caution: if you have kidney disease, consult your doctor about how much water it is safe to drink).

Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Some study has shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to need an antibiotic. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

SLEEP

Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of infection-fighting antibodies.  Yes, it’s more difficult to sleep when you are suffering from an infection. Try some of the suggestions for Insomnia and try to get back on track.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Apply heat (heating pad) for pain or take a hot bath.
  • Avoid antibiotics which destroy good bacteria.
  • Have a doctor check for vesicoureteral reflux.
  • Avoid soap in the genital area as well as douching because it can upset the balance of good bacteria.
  • Shower rather than take baths
  • Stay hydrated to encourage frequent urination.
  • Try giving up tampons.
  • Try giving up your diaphragm.
  • Urinate whenever you need; don’t wait (the longer urine stays in your bladder, the more the bacteria multiply; more bacteria, more pain
  • Use fragrance-free personal hygiene products.
  • Wash well and urinate soon after sex.  Wash before, too.
  • Wear cotton underwear for its breathability.
  • Wear loose clothing to allow air circulation in the genital area.
  • Wipe from front to back, ladies.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

CAUTIONS

If you have serious symptoms or blood in your urine, fever or chills, please consult a physician.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Good hygiene

NOTES

There is a lot of confusion about cranberries.  Some say cranberry supplements help them a lot (specifically with E. coli infections), and others say they do not. A 2013 study found no benefits. A 2011 study found that they can make UTI’s worse.  Cranberries contain D-Mannose (a sugar found in cranberries, blueberries, apples et. al.), a compound thought to attach to E. coli bacteria, preventing them from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract which make them more easily eliminated by urination.  Typical dose is 500 mg in capsule or powder-in-water every few hours for five days but no side effects have been reported and it may be beneficial to continue for a while after the infection clears up.  On the negative side, cranberry juice will make the urine more acidic and that is thought to increase growth of negative bacteria.  Others report that bacteria thrive in alkaline urine.  Several people have reported that their UTI’s improved when they gave up the cranberry juice and drank lemonade instead, or used Alka Selzer.

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