Tag Archives: Urinary tract infection

Living with bladder pain naturally

My previous blog focused on explaining what bladder/pelvic pain is. After treating a large population of people with pelvic/bladder pain, there are a few natural remedies that I found to be effective.

The problem is that conventional medicine has little to offer patients that are suffering from bladder/pelvic pain. This is the reason that the average individual will have the disease for at least 8 years before it becomes diagnosed. If you are one of those people who does not want to be on the chemical/bladder installation train for the remainder of your life, you are in the right place.

My top 10 recommendations 

1. Identify foods that are your triggers. This can be accomplished by keeping a food diary that chronicles everything you eat and drink over a 24 hour period along with your mood, physical reactions,  bladder and bowel movements. Common foods that are known bladder irritants are: chili/ spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, tea (black, green, white), tomatoes, apples, apple juice, citrus foods, cranberries, cranberry juice, grapes, pineapple, plums, strawberries, alcohol, carbonated drinks, food preservatives, vinegars, vitamins (esp B vitamins) and MSG.

2. If you are a smoker, stop. Smoking may worsen pain conditions.

3. Find a way to deal with your stress. Whether it is tai chi, yoga, mindfulness based meditation, swimming, or walking. You get the idea. Stress makes bladder/pelvic pain worse. Pick an activity that does not aggravate your bladder pain and do it at least 3 times a week.

4. Try hot or cold applications. Most of my patients find that soaking in  a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt for 30 mins helps to relax their pelvic floor and relieve stress. Do not put any bubble bath or bath fizz as these things tend to aggravate pain symptoms. A few drops of almond or coconut oil with some essential oils is usually ok.

5. Do not let yourself get dehydrated. It is very tempting to decrease water intake in an effort to avoid going to the bathroom often. This only makes your urine concentrated and it can make your pain symptoms worse. In addition, you don’t want to set yourself up for a bladder infection. Drink at least half your body weight in oz of water daily.

6. It is important to find a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation. Not all physical therapists are created equal. Find someone who  is familiar with the Wise-Anderson protocol. You DO NOT want to be doing kegel exercises if you have pelvic/bladder pain. This may make your condition worse.

7. Try acupuncture. Acupuncture is good for stress management and it can be a very effective tool in managing pain. I have found a hybrid neuromodulation protocol which is a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine to be very effective.

8. Get a naturopathic physician on board who has experience treating bladder/pelvic pain. There are several herbs/supplements that can be very helpful and much more effective than pharmaceutical meds without the nasty side effects.

9. Take control of your gut health and fix any leaky gut syndrome that you might have. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and bladder pain almost seem to go hand in hand. You cannot truly fix pelvic pain without also addressing GI issues.

10. Get support. Find a support group that is engaging and uplifting. Pain is depressing and depression is painful. It is helpful to be with people who are able to rephrase their experience and not allow this condition to define them.

How have you dealt with your condition naturally?

There is a pain in my bladder.

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is an umbrella terminology for a group of symptoms within the pelvic region and for the most part a complicated condition. IC can be chronic or intermittent, it affects both males and females although females are affected more than males. While the bulk of attention tends to be on the bladder, there are other structures/organs in the pelvic region that are also affected such as bowels, uterus, muscles of the pelvic bowl etc.  Perhaps a more appropriate terminology for IC is Painful Bladder syndrome (PBS) or Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS) since chronic bladder/pelvic pain is one of the hallmarks of IC.

Signs and Symptoms of PBS/IC/CPPS

  • Urinary frequency and urgency
  • Suprapubic pain
  • Feeling of pressure/discomfort
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Vulva pain
  • Pain during urination
  • Perineal pain
  • Reduced urinary stream in men
  • Pain/discomfort in the tip of the penis
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Pain/ache/sensitivity in the testicles
  • Groin pain
  • Incomplete urination
  • Recurrent prostatitis that does not respond to treatment

Possible causes of PBS/IC/CPPS

  • Bladder infection
  • Trauma (surgical, physical, emotional or sexual)
  • Viral illness
  • Spasm in the pelvic region – chronic tension
  • Neurologic inflammation/Neurological windup
  • Hereditary

It is not uncommon for people with PBS/IC/CPPS at one point or another to experience recurrent bladder infections, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation,  vulvodynia, depression and anxiety. It is mostly likely that PBS/IC is an inflammatory condition that is worsened with stress/anxiety. In addition there is a high amount of tension/tightness in the muscles of the pelvic floor which further contributes to the pain/discomfort. In a small percentage of people, there are small pin point ulcerations (Hunner’s ulcers) in the bladder wall. Some individuals have noticed that certain foods can trigger a flare up that takes days to weeks to subdue.

Conventional medicine alone has very little to offer patients that are suffering from this condition because it can involve so many organs/structures. However a combination of modalities in addition to conventional medicine can enable people to lead a more normal life.

What challenges have you encountered with this condition?

Dealing with Recurrent Bladder infections naturally

Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) is a type of bacterial infection that can affect one or more organs of the urinary system (bladder, ureters, kidney). The most common bacterium in UTI’s is E. Coli however this is not the only one. For some women, once they start the UTI cycle it becomes very difficult to break. I have seen women get infections on a monthly basis and this is not healthy.

The standard of care is treatment with antibiotics and this makes matters worse. Repeated antibiotic treatments causes antibiotic resistance and recurrent yeast infections. However, there is hope and I have clinically witness women go from monthly infections to one or two a year.

Signs and symptoms of a bladder infection:

1. Strong urge to urinate frequently and often

2. Painful, burning urination

3. Cloudy, bloody urine with a strong smell

4. Discomfort, pressure or bloating in lower abdomen

5. Pain in pelvic area or back

It is worth noting that some women may have these symptoms and think they have a bladder infection but in reality what they have is Interstitial cystitis (IC)/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS). This topic will be covered in a later blog. As a physician, I always do a dip stick test in addition to a looking under the microscope and doing a culture and sensitivity. This is the best way to distinguish between true recurrent UTI’s and IC/CPPS.

Natural Remedies for recurrent UTI’s

Probiotics: It is important to choose a good quality probiotic. There are many products on the market with little to no live bacteria. While eating yogurt is helpful, it is not enough as a preventative measure.

Cranberry capsules: Cranberry helps to prevent the bacteria from sticking to the inside of the bladder wall. If you have IC, cranberry may make your symptoms worse  so proceed with caution.

Vitamin C: helps to keep the urine more acidic thereby preventing bacterial overgrowth. Some IC patients may find that Vitamin C makes their symptoms worse.

D – Mannose : this is a naturally occurring simple sugar that prevents E. Coli from sticking to the bladder wall. A high dose of D-Mannose can be tried over a 24 hour period prior to using antibiotics.

Hydration: it is important to drink lots of clean filtered water to help flush the bacteria out of the bladder.

Herbal remedies: Oil of oregano, Uva Ursi, Yarrow, Echinacea, Garlic, Goldenthread, Oregon Grape, Barberry and Goldenseal can all be useful for the treatment and prevention of a bladder infection.

Hygiene: since most women tend to have infections after intercourse, it is always a good idea to urinate right after having sex. Avoidance of tight-fitting pants will also help in the prevention of recurrent UTI’s. Choose cotton underwear instead of synthetics. Avoid scented products in your vaginal area. There is no need to make your private smell like a rose-bush. Avoid bath additives  (ie bubble bath, scented oils etc). These products can be highly irritating to the vaginal area thus setting you up for recurrent infections.

The content in this blog is for educational purposes only.  Please consult a naturopathic physician for a treatment plan if you think you have a UTI or if you are getting recurrent UTI’s.