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How to treat cystitis and urinary tract infections with herbs

Urinary tract infections (including cystitis) are pretty common, particularly in women. Herbal remedies are a great option to treat them.

Urinary tract infections affect women (and men) all over the world and are responsible for 20% of prescribed antibiotics. These types of infections are the second most common infections after respiratory tract infections (colds and flues). In this article we will discuss how to prevent them by improving habits as well as how to naturally treat them to avoid using antibiotics.

Urinary tract infections and cystitis: a quick explanation and the main causes

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common infections that occur when bacteria from the skin or rectum, travel up the urethra. The most common infections are caused by E.coli

A (very) short anatomy class to make the complicated words more understandable.

The urinary tract includes:

  • Kidneys: where urine is formed
  • Ureterers: transport urine from kidneys to bladder
  • Bladder:where urine is stored
  • Urethra: connecting the bladder to the exterior world. 

Inflections can occur anywhere along the urinary tract. Most common infections occur in the lower urinary tract: bladder (cistitis) and urethra (urethritis) – just as a side note, -itis always means inflammation. 
UTIs are more common in females because the urethras are shorter and closer to the rectum than in men, making it easier for bacteria to enter into the urinary tract.

 The main symptoms of cystitis

  • Pressure and pain on the lower abdomen
  • Urge to urinate
  • Burning sensation when urination
  • Frequent urination in small quantities
  • Cloudy urine
  • Red, pink or cola coloured urine (blood in urine)
  • Strong smell
  • Pelvic pain 

When to see a specialist

  • Fever
  • Lower back pain 

Nausea or vomiting

How to treat urinary tract infections

Empirical antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment. This means that antibiotics are prescribed without real need for them, putting us at risk of other infections or complications (such as alteration of good gut bacteria, candida infection and antibiotic resistance). 
An alternative strategy is to treat symptoms, and if they do not resolve then use antibiotics. Uncomplicated UTIs can be self limiting and resolve within 3-5 days with appropriate support treatment.

How to treat cystitis

  • Using herbal remedies and probiotics are great to restore normal vaginal flora. 
  • Drink plenty of water or green tea
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol and soft drinks which can irritate your bladder
  • Drink cranberry juice
  • Potassium salts reduce dysuria (urinary pain)

How to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

  • Drink plenty of liquid: helps dilute urine and flush bacteria
  • Wipe from the front back 
  • Pee after sex
  • Change wet bathing suits
  • Avoid irritating products (deodorants, sprays, powders) and avoid cleaning products (these will alter the normal bacteria flora, making it a risk for bad bacteria to take over)
  • Change birth control method: diaphragms and condoms with spermicide can contribute to bacterial growth. 
  • Vitamins A and C are good to prevent UTI. 

Natural herbal remedies for cystitis

Medicinal plants are rich in bioactive compounds which can help fight Urinary Tract Infections with less side effects

The diuretic action of nettle (Urtica dioica) and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) increase the urine volume, helping flush the bacteria. Antiseptic plants like bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), juniper (Juniperus) and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) contain antimicrobial compounds which directly kill bacteria. Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), currant (Ribes nigrum) and mallow (Malva sylvestris) have an anti-inflammatory and purifying action. Finally corn silk (Zea mays) helps reduce symptoms and the immune response as well as being urinary antispasmodic. 

The Wilden team has been studying and learning about these plants to create a natural remedy for cistiti. Drinking this delicate infusion will help prevent and treat uncomplicated UTIs while providing an enjoyable experience. With a sweet (sambuco) and spiced (cinnamon and juniper) flavour, this infusion can be drunk anytime of the day.