Here's TMI on UTI's

Here's TMI on UTI's

March 06, 2020

As a holistic health care practitioner and health nut, I’m used to healing my body with “potions” (as my friends call them) and proven natural remedies. That said, all the healing modalities in the world can’t help you if you don’t listen to your bod. This January, I overlooked a few pretty serious warning signs (burning in my urine, fever, extreme pelvic pain) and learned some big lessons — namely, when your body is speaking to you, listen up!

In this particular case, a month-long asymptomatic UTI progressed into a severe kidney infection. Thankfully, we caught it in time and I came out on the other side relatively unscathed (aside from a bruised ego), but the experience was jarring — and, as I’ve learned, not uncommon. If the 200+ messages I received in response to my Instagram story are any indication, this is a widespread issue that people don’t know about until it happens to them (which is far too late in my professional opinion).Today, we shine a spotlight on UTIs — what causes them, who gets them, and how to treat them — so you can take action when your body asks for help.

Causes of UTIs (hint: they’re not just from sex!): 

  • Hormone imbalances
  • Microbiome disruption (often due to antibiotics)  
  • Constipation: This traps bacteria in your body and gives it time to grow
  • Dehydration: Drink a lot of water so that you pee regularly and help flush bacteria
  • Feminine products: Bacteria can grow on dirty pads and tampons
  • Uncomfortable underwear can trap moisture that causes bacteria to grow
  • Diaphragm birth control: This puts pressure on the urethra
  • Pregnancy: The hormonal changes cause the bladder muscle to relax, thus delaying emptying
  • Post-menopause: Decreased circulating estrogen increases the risk of UTIs
  • Blockages in the urinary tract, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate
  • A suppressed immune system (ex: diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders)
  • Being sexually active: If you are, pee afterwards! 

So, what actually is a UTI? 

 A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Urine is made in the kidneys and travels down the uterus to the bladder and out the urethra. When bacteria gets into the urine it can travel up the system. The higher up the infection goes in the tract, the worse it is, so once it gets to the kidneys, it is severe! 

 Things to look out for (besides burning in your pee):

Pelvic area and lower/mid back pain — this is what I ignored. If you have back pain, especially on the right or left side of your spine where your kidneys are, let this be a red flag. Other symptoms include urinating more often, only peeing a few drops, and urine that smells off or is cloudy or discolored.

According to Chinese Medicine, fear is the emotion associated with the kidney. Severe panic attacks, anxiety, and fear may also be signs that your kidney energy is running low or and could be compromised.  

 If you’re just starting to feel or see potential UTI symptoms, you can try a few holistic remedies to try to flush out the bacteria and reduce inflammation before the infection really takes hold.

 Holistic remedies:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: this flushes bacteria from the urinary tract
  • Vitamin C increases the acidity of the urine, thereby killing off the bacteria that cause infection
    • My favorite Vitamin C is Liv on Labs Vitamin C or red peppers, oranges, grapefruit and kiwi also have high Vitamin C content 

  • Unsweetened cranberry juice: cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. You can also try a cranberry extract supplement if you’re not a juice person.
  • Probiotics promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and enhance immune function
    • My favorite probiotics supplement is Theralac or you can try fermented foods, such as kefir and kimchi
  • Good hygiene habits: Don’t hold urine for long, pee after sexual intercourse, wipe from front to back
  • Other natural supplements
    • D-Mannose: prevents E. coli from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract which is what causes the kidney infection

    • Thorne Uristatin: prevents unwanted bacteria from attaching to the bladder and urethra walls

    • Garlic extract: antimicrobial properties may be able to block the growth of bacteria

    • Marshmallow (no, not the fluffy sugar bombs you’re thinking of): is an anti-inflammatory herb that soothes and coat the lining of the urinary tract

    However, if your symptoms last more than a day or start to worsen, go to your nearest pharmacy and get a test kit to see if you have a UTI. It’s important to catch UTIs early so they don’t spread to your kidneys, which are key for sustaining life and maintaining the energy reserve in your body. 

    If it gets to this point, don’t be afraid to go to your doctor and get antibiotics to kill the infection. I can help you rebuild your gut bacteria afterwards. 

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