By Jan de Vries, originally published Summer 2005
Cystitis is a very common problem and it has been estimates that over 20% of women will have an attack at least once a year. Most cases of cystitis are due to an infection travelling up from the vagina into the bladder. Flare ups often occur after sexual intercourse when the bugs are re-introduced into the bladder from the exterior surface of the vagina where they have been multiplying and just waiting for the opportunity to visit the bladder. Attempting to urinate after intercourse may prevent the bacteria from reaching the bladder itself.
Women who are affected by recurrent bouts of cystitis tend to carry larger amounts of disease causing bacteria for longer periods of time, perhaps due to a local disruption of the defence mechanisms which allows bacteria to colonise on the vagina in abnormally large numbers.
Cystitis in men is not uncommon and is usually associated with an enlarged prostate gland. If the prostate is the cause, a recurrent history of infections and clear spells just after treatment is a common complaint since most treatments disinfect the bladder but have no effect on the prostate infection which soon re-infects the bladder again.
Step 1: Increase your fluid intake
Very few people drink enough water to keep themselves adequately hydrated. We all lose about 1.5 litres of water daily from our breath, sweat, urine and faeces so just to remain in balance you need to drink 1.5 litres daily. This does not take into account activity levels which cause us to sweat more, such as body type, environmental temperature, food consumption, stress levels to mention a few. As a general rule 2 litres of water (preferably still bottled water) are recommended as a daily flush-through.
Step 2: Drink unsweetened cranberry juice
Try to locate an unsweetened cranberry juice and drink a couple of tumblers daily. Sweetened drinks simply increases your sugar intake and will just encourage excessive bacterial growth in the bladder; you could not provide better living conditions for a bacteria than a warm, dark and sweet place like a bladder full of sugary fluid, so it’s always good to take the unsweetened brands.
To boost your intake try taking cranberry capsules, such as A.Vogel’s Cranberry Complex Tablets or, or in more severe cases the concentrated cranberry powders. The normal dose for powders would be 1 teaspoon taken morning and evening dissolved in water or 2 capsules taken twice daily.
Cranberry juice or extract contains a special substance called alpha-D-mannopyranoside which attaches itself to the sticky outer coat of the bacteria. This prevents it from getting a strong foothold on the lining of the bladder. This firm attachment to the bladder is what makes cystitis such a problem to treat. Conventional treatments merely disinfect the bladder contents and leave the bacteria hanging to the bladder wall. Cranberry juice actually helps pull them off the wall and stops them re-attaching.
Step 3: Increase your general health to boost your immunity
A.Vogel offer an Echinacea tincture, Echinaforce, which is brilliant for supporting and strengthening your immune system!
It is advisable to check that your diet is balanced and contains the correct balance of foods.
Taking Coneflower extract (Echinacea purpura) alongside Uva-Ursi has been shown to elevate white blood cell activity and stimulate the immune response. Echinacea can be taken as a liquid extract at a dose of 25-30 drops taken twice a day or as a capsule at a dose of 2 capsules taken twice a day.
Step 4: Personal Hygiene
Pay special attention to personal hygiene and use a local application of a lactobacillus acidophilus cream. This will encourage the re-population of friendly bacteria and re-balance the local micro-ecology.
If these simple measures fail to help you should seek professional advice.
From the Jan de Vries archives
Cystitis can be a very unpleasant experience but hopefully Jan has managed to shed some light on the problem for you. As he has mentioned, cranberry juice is often a go-to remedy but finding a source that is unsweetened can be difficult which is why we often refer our customers to Biotta’s Wild Mountain Cranberry Juice.
All of Biotta’s organic juices are completely free of any unwanted extras and contain premium-quality cranberries, alongside birch leaf tea and agave syrup. Delicious and ideal for gently increasing your daily intake of cranberries, this is one of our newer products her at Jan de Vries but we’re happy to recommend it!
One of our more staple remedies though is A.Vogel’s Uva-ursi Complex, combining extracts of Echinacea with Uva-ursi. One of renowned naturopath Alfred Vogel’s very first herbal products, this tincture is wonderful for helping with bladder symptoms when cystitis strikes.