Cystitis - Natural Remedies
If you've ever had an attack of cystitis, you'll know the main symptom: it burns when you pee - and the awful thing is, you want to pee all the time. A cystitis attack can strike suddenly, and Murphy's Law dictates that it usually happens when the doctor's surgery is closed. The natural treatments below will safely control the infection until you can see a doctor.
Be warned - natural remedies rarely cure cystitis attacks altogether. They can be very effective for preventing infection, and for reducing symptoms, but they can't kill all the bugs - so do see a doctor, even if you start to feel OK.
Just because you no longer feel the sting, that doesn't mean you're cured! The surviving bacteria will quietly multiply again in your bladder - or worse, travel "upstream" to your kidneys, where they can become life-threatening.
Sensible Precautions for Home Treatment
If you are self-treating (either with the regime below, or any other home remedy), please take the following precautions:
- If your home treatment doesn't start giving relief in a few hours, it's not going to - see a professional.
- If you are passing blood (check by drying yourself with a tissue, you will see the blood on it) - see a professional.
- Even if you're confident that your home treatment worked, visit your doctor to have a urine test, just to make sure.
D-Mannose Cystitis Remedy
If you can get it, this is the ultimate cystitis fighter. I used to have chronic cystitis, and it changed my life! Unfortunately, D-Mannoseis not easy to find in stores. You can buy it online at Waterfall D-Mannose or on Amazon or eBay, but it will take time to arrive. If you're a frequent sufferer, it's worth ordering a supply to keep on hand (it's also extremely effective as a preventer).
The treatment is simple - just take one teaspoon of D-Mannose every two hours for four days. Make sure you use a medicine or cookery measure - most modern teaspoons are much smaller than the official "teaspoon". If you don't have a measure, use a rounded or heaped teaspoon.
Note that D-Mannose will work only if the bacteria infecting your bladder is E-coli. Other bacteria aren't affected by it. If you find that D-Mannose isn't effective, try the Cranberry Remedy.
Cranberry by itself will not work. The secret of success is the combination of ingredients you're going to use. Gather everything you need before you start:
- Your preferred painkiller;
- Urinary alkalinizer, or bicarb;
- A caffeinated drink (e.g. coffee, Coke, energy drink);
- Fresh water and other drinks, especially citrus juices;
- A hot water bottle or heat pack
- A timer (optional)
It's a good idea to organize your "drinks station" on your bedside table. Fill a jug with your favourite drink, or set up a selection of bottles.
It's important to follow the sequence carefully:
- Take your urinary alkalinizer or bicarb in a glass of water. These products work AGAINST the effects of cranberry and citrus juices, but they are the quickest way to remove the sting. So it makes sense to take one now, to take the edge off the pain. Take a note of the time.
- Take your painkiller with a large glass of something. Water, cordial, juice, soup - it doesn't matter. DON'T just drink water, because you'll drink a lot more if you drink a variety of different liquids. The only thing not allowed is alcohol. (Don't forget to eat something if your painkiller must be taken with food).
- Have your caffeinated drink. Caffeine will make the liquid move faster through your body - which is what we want. If you don't normally take caffeine, just have this one caffeine drink. Otherwise, have two or three in the course of the day.
- Go to bed with a hot water bottle or heat pack on your tummy. This will soothe the area and reduce the feeling that you need to "go".
- Every 15 minutes (or more often if you like), have a drink - drink as much as you can (not just one glass). If you are going to read a book, watch TV, play Sudoku etc, then set your timer to go off every 15 minutes, in case you get absorbed in what you're doing.
- An hour after you start the treatment, take your cranberry (the recommended dose and frequency stated on your product). If it's juice, have as much as you like.
- If it's time for a meal, make it soup or a smoothie - something with a lot of fluid.
Continue with this routine as long as you need to.
- keep drinking as much as you can
- go to the toilet as often as you feel the need (and completely empty your bladder)
- take your cranberry and painkiller according the recommended dosage
The dilution should make the burning sensation bearable, but if it doesn't, you can take another urinary alkalinizer as needed. Bear in mind, though, that it does work against cranberry, so try to separate the two by at least an hour.
Some naturopaths recommend parsley, garlic and cider vinegar for cystitis. It may help to add them into the mix (maybe in your soup, or as salad dressing, or both), and won't do any harm. Be cautious about adding other herbal remedies, in case they conflict. Be especially cautious with Uva Ursi, which is strong enough to kill some bugs but can also have a very nasty effect on your liver.
Tips for Successful Cystitis Treatment
- Don't try to follow this treatment and "soldier on". If you try to keep working or doing the housework at the same time, you simply won't drink enough. Try to devote a couple of hours to doing this, and just this! If you can, spend at least half a day working on it.
During this treatment, you will be drinking a huge amount of fluid and you will go to the toilet a lot. I know, it's a horrible thought when it hurts, but you'll find that as your urine gets more diluted, it will sting much less. When you go, it's very important that you empty your bladder completely. Again, this is something that cystitis sufferers often don't do, because they subconsciously contract the muscles to avoid the final sting. But it's the leftover stale urine that allows the bacteria to multiply and re-establish, so don't do it. Take your time, and make sure you squeeze out the last drop - every time!
Why This Cystitis Treatment Works!
Even when you've been prescribed drugs for a cystitis attack, the pills alone are not enough. To treat cystitis properly, either medically or at home, we need to do three things:
- Flush the infection out of the bladder.
We do this by drinking lots of fluid, and by encouraging it to move through the body as fast as possible. When you want to rinse something out in the sink, what do you do - turn the tap to a measly trickle, or a gushing torrent? A fast flow will flush away toxins better.
- Kill the bugs or create an environment they can't live in
If you're taking antibiotics, they'll kill the bugs: natural treatments make the urine acidic (so the bugs can't survive) and/or affect the lining of the bladder (so the bugs can't cling to it), or bind with the bugs and carry them out of your system.
- Stop the pain
The quickest way to do this is to make the urine alkaline, which unfortunately deals with the worst symptom, but does NOTHING to kill the infection.
One natural cystitis treatment can't achieve all three objectives - but the simple ingredients in the Combination Treatment can.
As I said before, there are people who swear this particular Combination Treatment can cure cystitis attacks. However, do remember that the bacteria which cause cystitis can be resistant, and there's always a risk they will escape to the kidneys and cause havoc. So it's always best to ask your doctor to check once you're feeling better.
All text copyright Marisa Wright. Mannekin pis photo thanks to Ricardo Martin
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