Natural treatments for recurrent cystitis

by Charlie Rose, Spring 2015

Burning and painful peeing is often due to cystitis. A doctor can confirm this for you and rule out any other problems, so do book an appointment. But what do you do if cystitis keeps on recurring over and over again? There are some herbal homes teas you can make at home to help you get on top of things.

Cystitis, otherwise known as a urinary tract infection, is an inflammatory condition of the bladder caused by bacteria entering through the urethra. Damage or irritation of the urethra could also cause cystitis. Most women will have it at least once in their lives. About 1 in 5 women experience recurrent cystitis - which is defined as three occurrences in a year or two in six months. Cystitis can be caused by a number of things including: a lack of hygiene, pregnancy, the menopause, using a diaphragm and sex. It often clears itself up within three or so days, but if you are experiencing recurrent cystitis supplementation could definitely aid recovery. Also recurrent cystitis can be a sign of a serious underlying issue, therefore be sure to consult your doctor if it is particularly stubborn.

The most recognisable symptom is painful and perhaps frequent urination. You may also experience an urgent need to urinate and find that not much passes. You may see blood in your urine and your urine could be smelly, cloudy or dark in colour. Lower abdominal and lower back pain could also occur. You may experience a fever and lethargy is a common symptom. Dyspareunia (painful intercourse) is also a symptom of cystitis.


Herbs to take

Marshmallow leaf/root is thought to inhibit the growth of bacteria. It can also relax, soothe and coat the inflamed surfaces of the bladder due to its demulcent properties. It is a diuretic (it increases the elimination of urine) which will in turn help to flush out the bacteria. It is also known to help with reducing bladder pain resulting in less painful urination. With its anti-inflammatory properties it will discourage recurrent cystitis.

Slippery elm is known for its soothing (demulcent) properties due to its mucilage that turns into a jelly-like substance when it comes into contact with water. It helps to absorb toxins, heal surfaces and decreases pain and inflammation.

Uva-ursi, bearberry leaf,  is a mild diuretic with antiseptic and antimicrobial actions that discourage bacterial growth and helps strengthen the tissues of the urinary tract making them less prone to infection

Corn silk is a natural diuretic that calms inflammation in the bladder and urethra. It is also known to help children who suffer from bedwetting and elderly people who experience incontinence.

Useful supplements

D-Mannose is a simple sugar found in some fruits and plants including cranberries. It is also referred to as Mannose. It helps to flush out the urinary system completely. The sugars contained in D-Mannose help loosen the bacteria stuck to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract and flush them out when you urinate. It is also beneficial in strengthening the urinary tract, especially after recurring infection.

A high strength garlic supplement will help fight infection. Garlic which is full of antioxidants - helps kill bacteria and strengthens the immune system to aid your body in its recovery. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling and pain. We use AllicinMax capsules when we want a garlic supplement as they are high strength.

The dietary approach

Perhaps the most well known supplement to eliminate cystitis is cranberry juice. However it is not a particularly strong supplement to take. Due to the sugar D-Mannose it contains (as mentioned above), cranberry juice can be effective in encouraging the flushing out of bacteria and toxins from the body. It is incredibly easy to introduce into your day, and is inexpensive so it is worth a try to find out whether it could help you.  

At Napiers, we always recommend a course of herbal tea (our own blend contains uva-ursi, cornsilk and marshmallow leaf) because of its many beneficial properties. Otherwise known as bearberry, uva-ursi encourages a good flow of urine to be released. It is a powerful astringent and it also promotes relaxed muscles and soothes inflamed tissue.

Caffeine should be avoided as it causes the muscles around the bladder to contract and in doing so, become more painful. Decreasing the amount of acidic and spicy foods, fizzy drinks, refined and processed foods and simple sugars will help create a cystitis-free environment. Instead include parsley and celery in your daily diet (they are natural cleansers and diuretics) and drink lots of clean fluids such as bottled water.