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Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms
The Menopause Self Help Book
by Susan M. Lark, M.D.,
URINARY TRACT SYMPTOMS
The urinary tract is a particularly vulnerable area during menopausal years and beyond because the lack of hormonal support causes tissues to become more delicate and easily traumatized. Herbs such as goldenseal, uva ursi, blackberry root, and wintergreen have the ability to soothe, relieve irritation and reduce infection in the urinary tract. Research studies suggest that the plant coleus forskohlii also decreases urinary tract pain and discomfort.17
Bladder infections (cystitis, urethritis, UTIs) may often be headed off by drinking a glass of water every hour as soon as burning or urgency is felt.31 Drinking lemon juice in water hourly may also be very effective. Mallows (Althea officinalis, Malva sylvestris, rotundifolia and neglecta); Uva ursi; Yarrow; Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia are effective antibiotics in clearing bladder infections and do not feed vaginal yeast.31
Elimination of all forms of sugars (even fresh fruit, fruit juice and honey) while dealing with chronic cystitis is strongly recommended.
Goldenseal contains berberine, an alkaloid with antibiotic activity.17
Uva ursi contains arbutin, a urinary diuretic and anti-infective agent.17 It is an old favorite for strengthening the bladder and ending chronic silent bladder infections. Hot water infusion of the dried leaves, cold water infusions or tinctures with vodka or vinegar have all been successfully used. A common dosage is 1 cup/250 ml of infusion or 2 teaspoons/10 ml of vinegar or 10 drops of tincture 3-6 times daily initially, then 1-3 times daily for 7-10 days.
Coleus forskohlii contains forskolin, an antispasmodic, which can relieve painful urination as well as menstrual cramps and intestinal colic.17
Cranberry extract has been shown by recent research to inhibit adherence of E. coli to the walls of the urethra and bladder. An important study in 1994, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that cranberry juice was more effective in treating than in preventing urinary bacterial infections. It was also notable for being the first placebo-controlled, large-scale clinical trial to show that cranberry juice does in fact reduce bacteria levels in the urine as well as the attendant influx of white blood cells to fight the infection.23
Recent findings suggest that cranberry juice can affect urine in another way as well. It can lessen the urinary odor of incontinent persons by slowing the activity of bacteria (Escherichia coli in particular) that contribute to the odor. It does this primarily by reducing urines acidity.23
A 6-ounce glass of unsweetened cranberry juice (or consuming high-quality cranberry supplements) may also reduce risk of urinary stone recurrence and relieve symptoms of chronic kidney infection (pyelonephritis), at least according to anecdotal reports.23
Drinking very large amounts of the juice may cause diarrhea and stomach upset. An acute urinary tract infection accompanied by severe burning upon urination will almost always warrant medical treatment with antibiotics and should never be left untreated.23
Cranberry, in capsule or diluted unsweetened juice, may also be used on a preventative daily maintenance basis.
Yarrow is a urinary disinfectant with a powerful antibacterial action and an astringent effect that helps tone weak bladder tissues. Use a small cup of the infusion once or twice a day for 7-10 days, or combine it half-and-half with uva ursi. Results may be felt within several hours. This herb is highly recommended for women with incontinence.31
Echinacea: Dr. Michael Murray writes that Escherichia coli (or E. coli) bacteria are responsible for about 90% of bladder infections. E. purpurea and E. angustifolia have been shown to clear bladder infections without contributing to vaginal yeast proliferation.
Dr. Terry Willard writes: "The plant extract of echinacea (mucopolysaccharide component, echinacin) has a cortisone-like activity which inhibits hyaluronidase enzyme that is associated with inflammation and swelling. This is accomplished by maintaining the structure and integrity of collagen matrix in connective tissue and ground substance. Echinacea also increases the cell growth of fibroblasts, activates macrophages, regenerates new tissue and eliminates infectious organisms". He goes on to say that one of the major components, inulin, promotes solubization of viruses and bacteriolysis, among other things. Echinacea is antiviral due to interferon-like activity and has relatively mild but proven effective antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus, Corynebacterium diptheria and Proteus vulgaris.34 No toxicity was found in literature reviewed.34
Susun Weed agrees that in acute cases it should be taken every 2 hours or so. She calculates dosage as: 1 drop echinacea tincture for each 2 pounds/1 kilo of body weight. This means a 150 pound/70 kilo person would use 75 drops or 3 droppersful.
Water: Normally it is advisable to drink plenty of water, around 810 glasses per day in addition to juices and other fluids, but it should be considered essential during a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Flaxseed oil: 13 tablespoons added to the diet has been found effective in relieving chronic bladder infections.31
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) helps the kidneys, bladder and raises urinary pH. Try 500 mg hourly for 68 hours. Calcium supplements, on the other hand, tend to increase bacterial adhesion to the bladder wall.31
Bladder irritants include alcohol, black tea, coffee, sodas, citrus juices, chocolate, cayenne and hot pepper. Urinating before love play is also an irritant (its wise, however, to urinate after love play).3
Researched and written by Joan McPhee, MH, WT, 2000
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