Avoiding Urinary "Diseases"
By Judy Josiah

More info on the subject can be found here.

The urinary system is a complex and intricate system consisting of the kidneys, urethra, bladder and ureter A well-functioning urinary system is essential for good health. Although we tend to equate the urinary system simply with elimination, it is actually an amazingly complex filtering system that minute-by -minute determines what to excrete and what to retain in the body. In fact, over 95 percent of the water and most of the nutrients we take in, are reabsorbed.

The kidneys, located near the lower ribs on either side of the spine,  filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine. Our kidneys produce enzymes and hormones which interact with other compounds and help us maintain our blood pressure. They regulate the proper fluid balance in our bodies and help maintain the proper acid and alkali balance. Kidney failure is a life-threatening situation. If the kidneys cannot filter toxins from the blood and move them out of the body, these waste toxins accumulate in the blood and contaminate the entire system.

Signs of possible urinary problems include either high or low blood pressure, itchy ears, skin rashes, depression or mood swings, ear or eye irritation, insomnia or restlessness, dark, puffy circles under the eyes, allergies or hay fever, rashes, PMS, pain felt in the side or back around the hips, pain around the pubic bones, painful urination and water retention.

While one or two of these symptoms are probably not cause for alarm, if you find yourself manifesting numerous symptoms, you might want to investigate what is happening.

Let's look at some common problems that we may experience with our urinary system. One common complaint, especially with women is water retention. When retaining water, our first response is to drink less liquid. The problem with water retention is not that we are drinking too much water but that the kidneys fail to properly filter and eliminate toxins from our bodies. Drinking at least one quart of water and herb tea daily will dilute the toxins and aid in good functioning kidneys. Also, if experiencing water retention, one should replace salt with salt free herb seasonings

Being physically active also promotes kidney health. Exercise gets your blood circulating. Sitting for long periods of time, whether at a desk or at the wheel of a car, puts stress on our kidneys. If you do have to sit for long periods, remember to sit up straight and take frequent stretching and walking breaks.

Urinary Maintenance is considered an all-around corrective for urinary tract problems and one of the best for improving hot conditions in the urinary tract.

Cystitis
Cystitis, or an infection of the bladder, is a problem few of us have escaped. The symptoms are painfully obvious: feeling the need to urinate
frequently but passing little urine, painful urination that feels like your urine has been passed though a bed of hot coals, cloudy or even bloody urine and pain In the lower abdomen.

Bladder infections may be caused by either a bacterial infection or by abrasions from tiny calcium phosphate crystals in the urine. According to Hoffmann, urinary tract infections are about 20 times more common in women than men because the urethra is much shorter in women than in men which gives bacteria easy access to the bladder. Bladder infections can become a chronic problem, so begin treatment at the first sign of a problem. Most people opt for a course of antibiotics to treat cystitis. Antibiotics destroy the healthy bacteria as well as the harmful ones and do not treat the underlying imbalance that caused the infection. But if you do decide to use antibiotics, be sure to consume bifidophilus daily.

To treat cystitis eat a simple, easy-to-digest diet of steamed grains vegetable soups and unsweetened cranberry juice I usually freeze bags of fresh cranberries when they are plentiful around the holidays and juice them myself although most health food stores stock unsweetened cranberry juice. The problem with regular cranberry juice is that it contains lots of sugar, and sugar aggravates cystitis. I try to drink unsweetened cranberry juice periodically whether I have an infection or not. Because the juice is so sour, I add a little Xylitol to sweeten it.

Note from Four Winds Nutrition: If you do not want or have no time to follow the above suggestion, simply take Cranberry & Buchu and follow directions of the label.

You want your urine to be more acidic when you have cystitis, so avoid foods that are alkaline forming including dairy products, sodas and citrus juices. Alcohol, black tea, chocolate and coffee tend to irritate the bladder, so avoid these. There is some evidence that ascorbic acid is a bladder irritant, so if you take vitamins, take Vitamin C in the form of calcium abscorbate (which is buffered). To help flush out bacteria, increase your liquid consumption to 12 glasses per day. Some of this should be in the form of herbal teas (see formulas). Women should avoid anything that irritates the vaginal area including tampons, diaphragms and deodorant soaps.
Also urinate immediately after sexual intercourse. It may not be romantic, but It does help clear out bacteria.

Although most of us continue full steam ahead when suffering from cystitis, it's important to recognize that the urinary system is under attack and to rest in bed. A hot bath with a soothing herb like lavender and using a warm ginger poultice or a hot water bottle over the kidney area is a wonderful treat for your urinary system. Herbs such as golden seal, ginger, marshmallow, uva ursi, cranberry & buchu, yarrow , chickweed, horsetail and cornsilk are all good herbs to use for cystitis.


Prostatitis
The prostate is the site of most male urinary problems. Irritation of the bladder often cause irritability in the prostate gland. Prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate gland and the ureter. Located between the anus and scrotum, the prostate needs to be treated to herbal tonics to keep it healthy. Prostatitis has a variety of causes including stress, venereal disease and other infections.

The symptoms of prostatitis may come on slowly or suddenly. Early warning signs include a low grade fever and urinating frequently (including having to get up during the night). Sharp pains in the prostate area, scalding urine, blood in the urine, chills and fever are all signs of prostatitis.
The treatment for prostatitis is similar to that for cystitis. It is important to avoid all alcohol during the attack, as it is extremely irritating to the prostate. Miso soup, steamed asparagus, steamed grains, apples, cherries and cranberries are good food choices.

Echinacea, golden seal, myrrh and ginger are herbs of choice in treating prostatitis. This is not a tasty combination, so they might best be taken encapsulated. Hot Siltz baths taken several times a day can also be helpful. Rosemary Gladstar recommends avoiding any herbs that stimulate the prostate including sarsaparilla, ginseng and saw palmetto. Even after the symptoms have passed, it is good to continue the treatment for two more weeks. Again, don't hesitate to consult a medical practitioner if symptoms continue.

Four Winds Nutrition recommend: Men's formula taken with Equolibrium.

 

Incontinence
Incontinence is another problem that herbs have successfully helped to treat. Although doctors don't understand all of the dynamics that cause this problem, loss of tone in the sphincter muscle, chronic infections or a genetic defect can play a part.
One of the best ways to strengthen the sphincter muscle and to tone the urinary system is to do Kegel exercises. The nice thing about Kegels is that you can do them anytime, anywhere - gardening, driving, standing in line, etc. To perform Kegels tighten the muscles around the anus and pull them
in tightly toward your belly button. Hold for a few seconds and release. Increase the number of times you can do them until you can control your urine flow by flexing this muscle.

If suffering from Incontinence some good herbal choices include horsetail, cornsilk. A delicious vegetable dish can be made by steaming fresh, organically grown cornsilk (or you can eat it raw).



Kidney Stones
Passing a kidney stone has been likened to the pains of childbirth. According to Hoffmann, approximately 3 percent of all Americans will be plagued by kidney stones at some point. Kidney stones are not only painful but they can also be extremely serious if a stone obstructs the ureter. While herbal remedies can be beneficial in treating stones, it is best to work with a well-trained herbalist; however, many of us live in areas with little availability of holistic health practitioners. If you decide to to to treat yourself, gather as much information as you can and don t hesitate to ask for help from a medical doctor.

Kidney stones can be grain-sized or as large as a pecan. The most common types are calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate or uric acid kidney stones. According to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, there are many theories on what causes stones. Some accepted causes include: the excretion of bone calcium into the urinary system during a long illness where the patient must be confined to the bed for long periods; faulty calcium metabolism; urine staying in the system too long; urinary infections ; eating too much insoluble calcium; and imbalances of the thyroid or parathyroid gland.

Debilitating pain often comes on suddenly and is experienced as waves of pain focused around the lower abdomen and even into the upper thigh.
There may or may not be blood in the urine, but the person may experience heavy sweating, nausea and vomiting. Once the stone has passed, which may take a few minutes or a few days, the pain subsides, but keep in mind that you may have more than one stone. Some people develop fevers probably caused by an infection that forms in the stagnant urine. If you pass a stone at home, it's a good idea to take it into a lab for analysis.

Preventing kidney stones requires doing as much research as you can on the makeup of the type of stones to which you are prone. It is vital that you drink ample fluids (three quarts daily is not overdoing it) Drink teas made from urinary demulcents including cornsilk, marshmallow, chickweed and eat lots of dandelion leaves. Exercise can be helpful as it keeps a continuous flow of fresh blood moving through the kidneys.

If your stones are of the uric acid variety , you need to eat an alkaline diet. Potatoes, vegetables and non-citrus fruits are good choices. Avoid excess protein. Foods containing oxalates should be avoided if you are prone to calcium oxalate stones. These Include yellow dock, wood sorrel, spinach, rhubarb, beets and chocolate. Drink mineral waters rich in magnesium as these will increase the solubility of calcium.
Calcium phosphate stones tend to form when there is a urinary infection. Since urine is alkaline, eat foods that will acidify the urine including eggs, meat and fish. Avoid dairy products.

Preventing stones is the painless way “to go”. Plenty of water keeps the blood thin and the urine diluted so that mineral or chemical compounds do not precipitate into stones. Another preventative is to take enough Calcium with Magnesium and vitamin B6. 

Eating too much meat raises the stone-forming oxalates and calcium in the urine. In addition, natural fiber in the diet helps sop up excess fat and toxic materials. Products like Psyllium HullsNature’s Three should help. Increase your dietary intake of natural, whole foods.

There can be three causes of kidney stones
* too much acid in the kidneys
* chronic diarrhea and 
* too much animal protein. 
But a diet too high in fat and sugar, and lacking in natural fiber, magnesium or B6 can also lead to problems. For those suffering from stones, be very cautious. Unless you fully understand your condition, and know precisely what to do, self-treatment is not safe. Using ultra sound to break up stones can cause high blood pressure if they damage the kidneys.

The ripe berries are used. They can be eaten raw (hard to do because they are so strong), made into a tea, or dried carefully to maintain the aromatic oils and encapsulated. They are effective against a uric acid buildup in the blood, which can settle out in the toes as gout. The berries also settle the stomach and help prevent flatulence. 

Four Winds Nutrition Recommends... 
If you suffer with kidney stonesHydrangea 

Kidney and prostate power (Hydrangea arboresceny) 
Hydrangea is a diuretic that has the reputation for dissolving kidney stones and relieving kidney-related backache. 
It is also used where there is a prostate problem including non-specific urethritis and other general inflammations of the urinary system in the aged. 
Hydrangea is recommended for removing calcium deposits and relieving arthritis swelling over time. 
One source says that too much may cause vertigo and chest congestion.

Call us for quantities, times per day etc. 407-740-8084 (E.S.T.)