❑ Drink plenty of liquids, especially cranberry juice. Drink at least one 8-ounce glass of water every hour. This is extremely beneficial for urinary tract infections. Cystitis Recommendations. Steam-distilled water is preferable to tap water.
❑ Include celery, parsley, and watermelon in your diet. These foods act as natural diuretics and cleansers. Celery and parsley juice or extract can be purchased at a health food store or made fresh at home if you have a juicer.
❑ Avoid citrus fruits; these produce alkaline urine that encourages bacterial growth. Increasing the acid content in urine inhibits the growth of bacteria.
❑ Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, coffee, chocolate, refined or processed foods, and simple sugars. Chemicals in food, drugs, and impure water have an adverse effect on the bladder.
❑ Cystitis Recommendations. Perform a one- to three-day cleansing fast.
❑ Take 2 teaspoonfuls of whey powder or 2 acidophilus tablets or capsules with each meal. This is especially important if antibiotic therapy is required.
❑ Take a twenty-minute hot sitz bath twice daily. Hot sitz baths help to relieve the pain associated with cystitis. Batherapy from Queen Helene, a product that can be found in health food stores or online, is excellent. Or you can add one cup of vinegar to a sitz bath (or to shallow bathwater) once a day. Cystitis Recommendations. A woman should position her knees up and apart so that the water can enter the vagina. Alternate this with a bath made with two cloves of crushed garlic or an equivalent amount of garlic juice.
❑ Use acidophilus douches as recommended under Nutrients, above. If cystitis is associated with vaginitis, alternate this with apple cider vinegar douches.
❑ Avoid taking excess zinc and iron supplements until healed. Taking over 100 mg of zinc daily can depress the immune system; bacteria require iron for growth. If a bacterial infection is present, the body stores iron in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow in order to prevent further growth of the bacteria.
❑ Do not delay emptying the bladder. Making sure that you urinate every two to three waking hours—”voiding by the clock”—can help.
❑ Keep the genital and anal areas clean and dry. Women should wipe from front to back after emptying the bladder or bowels, should empty the bladder before and after exercise and sexual intercourse, and should wash the vagina after intercourse. Diaper wipes are soothing, sanitary options to clean oneself.
❑ Wear white cotton underwear; Avoid nylon underwear.
❑ Change into dry clothes as soon as possible after swimming; avoid sitting around in a wet bathing suit.
❑ Do not use “feminine hygiene sprays,” packaged douches, bubble baths, tampons, sanitary pads, or toilet paper containing fragrance. The chemicals these products contain are potentially irritating.
❑ If you suffer from frequent urinary tract infections, use sanitary pads rather than tampons.
❑ If urination is painful but harmful bacteria cannot be found, discontinue use of all types of soaps and use only water to cleanse the vaginal area. Cystitis Recommendations. Some people are sensitive to soap; an all-natural soap from a health food store is recommended.
❑ If there is blood in the urine, consult your health care provider. This can be a sign of a more serious problem that warrants medical attention.
❑ Optimal immune function is important in both fighting and preventing all bacterial disorders.
❑ Caffeine causes the muscles around the bladder neck to contract, and can produce painful bladder spasms.
❑ Habitually retaining the urine in the bladder for long periods increases a woman’s risk of urinary tract infection, and may increase the risk of bladder cancer.
❑ Shrinkage of urethral and vaginal membranes, which most commonly occurs after menopause as a result of a reduction in the amount of estrogen in the body, can increase the tendency to develop bladder infections. Urethral dilation helps stretch a contracted urethra.
❑ Food allergies often cause symptoms that mimic bladder infections. Food allergy testing can determine which foods are causing the allergic reaction.
❑ Using aluminum cookware may cause cystitis symptoms.
❑ Cadmium, a toxic metal, may cause urinary problems.
❑ If you suffer from inconsistent bladder control, consider sacral nerve stimulation, a new implant designed to treat bladder problems. This small device sends electronic signals to the nerves connected to the bladder, which helps prevent incontinence and dramatically improves quality of life.
❑ Women who suffer from frequent urinary tract infections be forced to stay on a continued regimen of low-dose antibiotics to prevent recurrence. Researchers from the University of Michigan announced in 2009 that they had developed the first effective vaccine to prevent urinary tract infection (UTIs). Those who would benefit from a vaccine are people who are resistant to antibiotics, those who are allergic to antibiotics, or those who experience side effects that preclude them from using antibiotics for UTIs.
❑ Antibiotics and analgesics may be necessary treatments for cystitis, especially for persistent and/or painful infections. Beware of resorting to them too often, however.
Antibiotics disturb the normal internal flora, and may actually promote recurrent infections by promoting the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. In fact, because antibiotics have been widely prescribed over many years, there are many types of bacteria (estimates run from 50 to 80 percent) that are now resistant to common antibiotics, such as sulfa drugs and tetracycline. This forces doctors to resort to more powerful and potentially more dangerous antibiotics that pose a greater risk of adverse reactions and side effects. For most bladder infections, a natural approach to treatment is often effective, but if a severe condition persists beyond a day or two, consult your health care provider.
❑ Recurrent cystitis may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as bladder cancer, an anatomical anomaly, or immune deficiency. Cystoscopy, a simple visual examination of the bladder, is indicated.
❑ An oral medication, pentosan (Elmiron), is the only oral drug accept by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for interstitial cystitis (IC).
❑ In one study, one gram of quercetin improved symptoms of interstitial cystitis. In another study, 300 mg of quercetin helped women feel better and they scored better on a standardized test of symptoms. Both studies of quercetin used a blend of quercetin, condroitin sulfate, and sodium hyaluronate.