Cystitis is inflammation of the urinary bladder. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection but often overlooked is the possibility of viral or yeast infestation. The orthodox world is very swift to supply antibiotics, never considering the possibility that this might make things worse if a yeast is the problem. Also not considered is the possibility that the bladder is inflamed by toxins filtered from the bloodstream by the kidneys. Chemical compounds and specific food intolerances may also cause inflammation.
Infection is usually introduced via the urethra from outside the body. The urethra in the female is short and organisms do not have that far to travel. The male urethra is longer and has the added advantage of the protective effects of seminal fluid that collect in the prostate, which acts as a valve, before organisms can enter the bladder. Dehydration, being sedentary and sexual intercourse all predispose to urinary tract infections. Interestingly, women who do not achieve orgasm easily or frequently tend to have more cystitis, probably due to the fact that pelvic blood congestion occurs without the orgasmic release. (An orgasm is accompanied by blood flow from the pelvis.) One-fifth of women will have a urinary tract infection in any year and most will succumb to this uncomfortable condition at some time in their life. It is rare in men.
The symptoms are generally of pain in the vagina, penis or lower abdomen and this may be an ache or a sharp discomfort. Urination usually makes the pain worse. There is generally increased frequency and the urine may change colour becoming a deeper orange or even red if blood is present. A cloudy urine is not uncommon and particles (pus or bladder wall lining) may be visible.
Cystitis itself is not a pleasant condition but not particularly harmful unless the infection is allowed to travel up the ureters to the kidneys. This occurs in approximately 20 per cent of infections and is characterized by an ache, or worse, in the small of the back. The kidney area may be tender to touch. Renal involvement or recurrence, which may occur because of a general decrease in immunity, obstruction to the outflow or a bladder that has lost some of its sensitivity and therefore does not empty fully, needs to be treated by professionals. Pregnancy may apply pressure to the bladder outflow, as may a full rectum if the individual is constipated.
Four per cent of females carry bacteria in the urine with no symptoms. This is generally a sign of a good immune system. Asymptomatic bacteria increases markedly in pregnancy and anywhere up to 50 per cent of women may, at some time during the pregnancy, carry bacteria without symptoms. As the individual is symptom-free, the discovery of this condition is usually done on routine testing and no treatment need be preferred.
At the first sign of cystitis, increase water intake to at least one pint per foot of height in divided drinks throughout the day. In every second pint add two teaspoonfuls of sodium bicarbonate. These drinks should be at room temperature.
Pass urine as frequently as is required and especially after intercourse.
Unsweetened cranberry juice or juniper extract (one teaspoonful per glass of water) should be added if the sodium bicarbonate does not improve the problem within 12hr.
Eat plenty of garlic with meals or take the maximum recommended dose of any good garlic supplement.
Refer to your preferred homeopathic manual and select a remedy based on the totality of symptoms. Pay special attention to Cantharis, Berberis and Apis. Staphysagria should be considered if symptoms occur predominantly in association with intercourse.
The herbs Uva ursi and Hydrastis can be considered by taking the maximum dose recommended of a proprietary preparation or after consultation with a complementary specialist.
The following supplements should be added into a predominantly vegetable and fruit diet. All should be taken in divided doses with meals in the following amounts per foot of height: beta-carotene, Img; vitamin C, lg; and zinc, 5mg (if this creates any nausea, take the full dose before bedtime).
Assess the possibility of any toxin if the condition is recurrent. Pay attention to foods eaten and if necessary consider food allergy testing. This is a must in any chronic or recurrent condition.
Ensure good hygiene. Vaginal douching sample by letting the first 2sec of urination flow into the pan, collect the urine until nearly completed and then let the rest go into the pan.
Try to avoid antibiotics unless a culture and sensitivity test has been performed on the urine sample to ensure that the correct antibiotic is being used. • Persistent or recurrent infections that are not amenable to complementary specialist treatment may require a urologist’s opinion. Treatment may include dilating any constricted or blocked urethra and in severe cases of cystitis (known as interstitial cystitis) may require partial or total removal of the bladder. This is an extremely rare occurrence and should be avoided.