Categories > Chinese Herbal Medicine
Join Dr. Kirti Deol in celebrating Naturopathic Week at our free open house dedicated to helping you learn more about Naturopathic Medicine and how it can help your health! (more…)
There are times when stress is completely unavoidable, such as a high demanding job, training for a competitive sport event, dispute with your partner or friends, or caring for a sick parent, etc. (more…)
Our team just got home from the 2016 Integrative Fertility Symposium and wanted to share some highlights. (more…)
If you’re a woman, your chance of getting a urinary tract infection is extremely high and many can lead into chronic infections that are recurrent, sometimes for years. There are two types are UTIs, bladder infections (BIs) and kidney infections (KIs). I will be specifically chatting about BIs, since KIs should be treated promptly with antibiotics.
UTIs are bacterial infections that are not to be taken lightly. If you have had the joy of experiencing one…you know how incredibly debilitating they are. Common symptoms of a UTI are:
- Frequent and/or intense urge to urinate
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Pain or pressure in the lower back or abdomen
- Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strange-smelling urine
- Symptoms of shaky or feeling tired
- Fever or chills, nausea and vomiting (likely a sign that the infection has gone to the kidneys)
If you suspect you have a UTI, it is imperative that you head to the medical doctor to get a urine sample to confirm. In younger, sexually active women, sudden onset of painful urination can also be due to chlamydia infection or gonorrhea (rarely), so getting a urine culture as well is beneficial. The majority of UTIs are bacterial in origin so medical doctor’s prescribe antibiotics during an acute episode. Some women who have chronic BIs are given long-term antibiotics for preventative measures. However, frequent antibiotic use, especially in women with chronic BIs, has been shown to alter intestinal and vaginal flora and increase the rate of antibiotic resistance.
Naturopathic approaches should be strongly considered in cases where chronic BIs are still a problem. Naturopathic doctors can treat acute, single episodes of BIs, but you want to be under the supervision of a doctor since these infections can quickly develop into kidney infections, which are very dangerous and can only be treated with antibiotics.
Housekeeping Rules for your lady parts:
- If you were ever told to wipe from front to back after using the washroom, listen! This is a key factor in preventing recurrent BIs. Since the urethra (where you pee) is located close to the anus in women, bacteria from the large intestine are in perfect position to escape the anus and invade the urethra. Some women have shorter urethras allowing bacteria to ascend more easily to the bladder, making them more prone to BIs.
- Another housekeeping tip is to urinate after sex. Having sex can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract, again causing an infection in the urethra.
- Avoid vaginal hygiene products (ie. douches), which can be irritating to the urethral area and alter the vaginal flora.
- Research has shown that wearing cotton underwear can reduce the chance of UTIs since it is more breathable.
- Increase your intake of water to ensure you are peeing regularly to flush out bacteria and prevent their adherence to the urethra.
- Add in some UNSWEETENED PURE cranberry juice (not the Welch’s cranberry or any “cranberry cocktail” drinks). It is a known anti-adhesion agent, meaning it can prevent the bacteria from setting up shop in your urethra. It can be found in different forms: juice, tablets or capsules. You want to be drinking about 250-300ml/day, which you can dilute in some water since the pure cranberry juice can be quite tart. Cranberry juice is also safe and effective for the prevention of UTI’s in pregnancy, which is important since they tend to be more common.
- Your GUT and VAGINAL flora are key players in preventing recurrent BIs, therefore keep your diet low in sugar and high in fiber, specifically from dark leafy greens.
- To reduce the susceptibility to bladder infections it may be necessary to address and remove food sensitivities.
- Probiotics: can help keep the vaginal and gut flora balanced. You want to make sure the probiotics specifically contain the Lactobacillus species. One of my favorites is the UltraFlora’s Women’s by Metagenics that contains a 50:50 blend of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri, once/day. This targets healthy vaginal flora by increasing the number of beneficial lactobacilli. Lactobacillus generates an acidic vaginal pH and interferes with the adhesion of common urinary bacteria. Vaginal probiotic suppositories have been used weekly and shown to reduce the incidence of UTIs after 12 months.
- D-Mannose: a simple sugar that acts similarly to cranberry in that is prevents the adherence of bacteria. It can be used for treating acute BIs and for prophylaxis in women prone to recurrent infections. It has been shown to be more or just as effective as antibiotics when used for chronic BIs but with a much lower incidence of side effects. A general dose is around 2 grams of powder/day during an acute infection.
- A healthy immune system can help the body resist infections. Specific vitamins I recommend are Vitamin C. Studies have shown that it increases the release of nitric oxide in the urine, which acts as a bacterial killing agent against the most common bacteria that causes UTIs, E.Coli. General dose is around 1-2grams/day. Vitamin A and Zinc are other common recommendations for supporting the immune system.
- For acute bladder infections, berberine extracts (found in various plants – Hydrastis Canadensis and Berberis vulgaris) have significant antimicrobial activity. It inhibits the growth of several bacteria, including resistant E.Coli (common in chronic BI patients). Berberine can also act as an antimicrobial to treat dysbiosis (altered bacterial flora in the gut), which can indirectly reduce the occurrence of BIs since dysbiosis can increase the incidence of BIs.
- Other great anti-septics used in acute cases are: Uva Ursi and Yarrow. Can be done as an infusion/tea so they can be flushed through the urinary tract. The addition of marshmallow root can be added if symptoms of burning are present. These preparations can also be taken in capsule form.
- If stress is associated with your chronic BI, it is beneficial to incorporate herbs that specifically work at supporting your stress response while ensuring your immune system stays in check.
- Just a note: recurrent bladder infections are common in postmenopausal women due to the decrease in estrogen and its role in maintaining healthy vaginal flora and mucosa. There are many herbal recommendations that can help support this hormone imbalance and important to address these changes to reduce the reoccurrence of UTIs.
This information given is not to discourage antibiotic use, since in some cases it is absolutely necessary. It is to provide you with more preventative strategies and other naturopathic alternatives for treating chronic UTIs, all of which have much lower side effects compared to long-term antibiotics.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment at Whole Family Health, please contact us today!
I know it may seem hard to believe but I am not always the most calm and collected individual, anxiety can hit me like a ton of bricks and trust me it can be hard to come out of. Here are some strategies that I’ve learned to help me cope:
- Regular Exercise
This helps me to expel that extra pent up energy that can often turn into anxious type feelings. I’m not saying that you have to run five miles a day, but scheduling at least 30-60 min three times a week of moderate to intermediate physical activity will quell over whelming feelings of anxiety and stress. Plus getting the blood pumping and body moving enhances the release of endorphins which helps us feel happy. Exercise also, benefits self-esteem by seeing physical results that may include less body fat, increased stamina, and muscle tone.
- Proper Eating Habits
I know that if I let myself get too hungry I am not a happy camper (some people call it hangry) Therefore, it is important to be eating regular meals everyday in order to stabilize blood sugar. When blood sugar becomes too low it causes stress to the brain and can lead to anxiety becoming worse. This is because the body is not getting nutrients into the blood stream.
The types of food that you put into your body also have an effect on anxiety. Feel good meals should include:
-Foods high in Tryptophan (precursor to serotonin): Turkey, chicken, banana, oats, cheese, soy, nuts, and sesame seeds.
– Vitamin B rich foods/supplements: Beef, chicken, pork, eggs, leafy greens, legumes, rice, oranges/citrus fruits, nuts, and whole grains
-Omega 3 rich foods/supplements: Chia seeds, flax seeds/oil, salmon, tuna, lake trout, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies
– Foods high in Protein (stimulates production of norepinephrine and dopamine): Greek yogurt, lentils, beans, soy, nuts, cheese, eggs, and meat
Foods that should be avoided that increase anxiety include:
-Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks: both lead to dehydration, which increases chances of anxiety. Caffeine also suppresses brain serotonin and as we know this is a feel good hormone.
-Foods high in sugar: The initial reaction to sugar may feel good at first but as the body releases insulin to counter balance that rush the body and mind are left feeling tired and in a low mood.
-Processed foods (meats, high fat dairy, fried foods) A UK study found that people who consumed processed foods regularly were more prone to anxiety and depression (source).
- Breathing Exercises
Sometimes I let my day get away from me and realize that I have not been taking full breaths and wonder why all of a sudden I’m feeling overwhelmed? Therefore I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths every 30 min to help my mind and body feel more at ease. Deep breathing gets more oxygen into our body that stimulates our calm at rest state of being also known as the Parasympathetic nervous system. Shallow breaths stimulate our fight or flight response or our sympathetic nervous system thus making us feel anxious and overwhelmed.
One particularly easy breathing technique I like and can be done anywhere at anytime is called “Equal Breathing” Start by inhaling through your nose and count to four and be conscious that you are moving the air all the way down (your abdomen should inflate if you are doing it right) and then exhale through your nose for a count of four. I like to do this 2-3 times in a row to really get myself in a calmer state.
- Me Time
Schedule at least thirty minutes to an hour to your own downtime every week is also important when managing anxiety and stress. Relishing in the things you like to do will help you to feel happy and grounded. These things can be as simple as taking a bath, reading a book, or listening to your favourite music. Invest time in yourself, because you are worth it!
As stated in my previous blogs regarding anxiety, acupuncture helps to reduce stress hormones in the body. This is essential for the body to get to its state of rest and relaxation by inducing the parasympathetic nervous system to go into action. Another added bonus to acupuncture is that it can be counted as me time! How often do we get to just lay back and relax for 45 minutes without the world buzzing around us? When coming in for anxiety treatments, I suggest starting off with weekly appointments to monitor how you are coping and if things are going well then we taper the treatments off to twice a month then to once a month.
I’m sure you know someone who has suffered from a concussion at some point in time. Concussions are unfortunately relatively common, with an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occurring each year in the United States.
Why is gluten such a problem now??
To put it simply, we’re no longer eating the wheat that our parents ate. (more…)