Article By Jill R. Davies for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).
Bladder inflammation can have different causes throughout life. Common causes of urethral and bladder inflammation are friction during sexual intercourse, and unwelcome bacteria flourishing in the area of the urethra. Problems can be exacerbated by hormonal changes, such as the menopause, and so can increase as women get older.
Whatever the cause, the main symptoms are the same: a burning pain when passing urine plus intense urgency and frequency of urination. A chronic pattern of inflammation is easily established in susceptible women. If you are prone to bladder inflammation you need to pay particular attention to nutrition, sleep and warmth.
Nutritional tips to try at home for bladder inflammation
Below are some nutritional tips which you can try for yourself at home.
Cranberries have extraordinary healing and nutritional properties relevant to urinary tract infections. They contain proanthocyanidins that prevent the adherence of bacteria to the mucosal walls of the urinary tract, thus keeping the bacteria from multiplying and infecting the host tissue. Avoid commercial cranberry drinks, which are high in acid-forming added sugar. You can purchase dried cranberry powder to mix with apple juice. Alternatively, soak frozen or fresh cranberries in water or apple juice overnight and enjoy up to 300ml daily (large amounts could possibly cause kidney stones or diarrhoea).
Reducing the acidity levels of urine will minimise the burning pain. Bladder inflammation is aggravated by highly acid-forming food and drinks. Coffee and tea, especially with sugar, alcohol, and soda drinks are all acid-forming and stoke the fire of inflammation, so avoid them.
You want to flush the system through so any attempt to avoid high fluid intake is counterproductive. Instead consume 1-2 litres of alkalising drinks per day, such as fresh lemon juice in spring water.
For another alkalising drink, try 3 tsp of apple cider vinegar in unsweetened apple juice, mixed with 2 litres of water.
Make your own naturopathic lemon barley water incorporating those two superb anti-inflammatory foods: Mix half a cup of whole organic pot barley with 5 cups of water. Simmer for 5 minutes, and leave overnight. Sieve the results and add a pinch of cinnamon powder and the juice of at least 1-2 fresh organic lemons. Keep the liquid in the fridge and drink it throughout the day.
Fresh parsley and fresh dandelion leaf can be beneficial and can be added to salads as well as soups and casseroles.
Raw foods are alkalising and can strengthen your overall immune system and digestion, but they don’t suit all constitutions, especially in colder weather.
Bladder inflammation is not the same thing as bladder infection, in which low grade fever, pain, and visible blood may be present. Because of the risk of the infection spreading to the kidneys, urgent medical attention must be sought.
Men are not immune to bladder and urethral infections and they should have a prostate check when this occurs to exclude possible obstructive causes. Both men and women can suffer with debilitating chronic cystitis, which can also have other obstructive causes such as kidney stones, so make sure they are investigated.
Jill R. Davies is a Herbalist and Naturopath, and a lecturer in Herbal Medicine at CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine) www.naturopathy-uk.com