Natural Support for the Urinary System & related problems
Sunshine Sharing Vol. 14 No1.

Edema or Water Retention
UTIs (Urinary Tact Infection)
Cysttitis, Urethritis, Urinary Inflammation
Incontinence
Bed-wetting and Urinating at night
Kidney Stones
Kidney weakness
Prostatitis (prostate problems) and BPH
Gout



Our bodies are composed of up to 60% water, and the urinary system manages all of it. This makes the kidneys, which process water-soluble wastes, especially vital to our overall health. Even the liver (which processes fat-soluble wastes) is dependent on the kidneys because some of its detoxification processes convert fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins which must then be eliminated with the urine through the kidneys and bladder.

Our two kidneys, each the size of a large fist, are carefully protected between the spine and other abdominal organs. Although only one kidney is required, we are provided with a "spare." They are connected to the circulatory system with generous artery and vein connections. Inside each kidney there are about a million filter structures called nephrons. (Thus kidney inflammation is called "nephritis.")
But the kidneys are much more than filters. By selectively reabsorbing water, mineral salts, and glucose back into the blood stream, the kidneys help control the circulating levels of these substances. Too much water can produce high blood pressure or water retention. Too little water can cause fainting or dehydration. The circulating salts of electrolyte minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) are needed continuously by every cell in the body. This is so vital that these minerals will be taken out of storage in bones (including teeth) if needed to maintain balanced amounts in the blood.

A vital key the healthy function of this entire system is to drink plenty of clean water. The acidic wastes of normal metabolism will irritate tissues throughout the body if they are not eliminated promptly. The problem is even worse if we eat too much meat (the liver makes extra urea/uric acid while processing the nitrogen in the excess protein). If we use too much salt, cells throughout the body are chemically imbalanced so that they hold onto too much water. Plenty of clean water allows these acids to be adequately diluted and effectively eliminated.

Inside this issue, we discuss some of the many things that can go wrong with the urinary system and natural therapies to help with these problems. The topics covered include urinary tract infections, water retention, kidney stones, gout and the "-itis" family of diseases: nephritis, cystitis and prostatitis.

 
 
 
 
 


Signs of possible urinary problems

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.



Basic Urinary Health

• Symptoms of Kidney Problems
Some back pain (the kidneys are behind the lower ribs in the back), stiffness in the neck and between the shoulder blades, headaches, and weak knees or ankles are common when the kidneys are not functioning efficiently. If the kidneys do not adequately remove acid wastes, these toxins will irritate tissues throughout the body, producing structural weakness and inflammation including arthritis, bursitis, etc. To better understand different classes of kidney problems see Energetic Differentiation and Kidney Chi Deficiency (see below).

• Do You Drink Enough Clean Water?
Surprisingly, water can be the best diuretic. When you don't get enough water, the body will begin trying to conserve it, which allows waste acids to build-up. Adequate amounts of clean water provide the medium needed to dissolve, dilute and discharge these wastes. Soda pop will not substitute for good water; it contains both unwanted salts and acids.
Evian water has a good pH (above7) and is good for most people.

• Do You Eat Enough Leafy Greens?
The kidneys are designed for a diet that rich in plant material (providing potassium) but scarce in salt (providing sodium). The kidneys are made to manage this mineral balance by excreting potassium. However, in our modern civilization, our diet is the reverse; salt is over-used to enhance flavor. Did you know that MSG is a sodium substance? We eat too few fruits and very little of the dark green leafy vegetables.

• Do You Sweat It Out of Your System?
The skin is sometimes called "the third kidney." Keeping the sweat glands open can take stress off the kidneys. Sweat baths or saunas can help remove toxins through the skin and relieve stress on the kidneys.

• Don't Mess With Stress
The adrenal glands sit directly on top of each kidney and have a strong effect on kidney and urinary tract function. If you are suddenly frightened, the immediate release of adrenaline can produce an uncontrollable urge to urinate. The adrenal glands are under the direction of the pituitary master gland in the brain and is dramatically affected by our reaction to stress. Adrenal Support provides important nutrients for times when these glands are stressed or even exhausted.



Kidney Weakness - Energetic Differentiation and Kidney Chi Deficiency

In the urinary system, "hot" conditions typically involve scant, dark urine, kidney and bladder inflammation, and/or burning or scalding urination. These hot conditions are treated by drinking more pure water and by using urinary remedies that soothe and cool irritated tissues, like cornsilk, marshmallow, asparagus and goldenseal.

Water retention is a "cold and damp" condition of the body where the kidneys are allowing too much water to remain in the system. Urine may be scanty or it may be copious and clear. This is treated with warming or stimulating diuretics that cause the kidneys to pull more fluid from the blood and eliminate it, such as juniper berries, buchu and uva ursi.

A "cold and dry" condition reflects chronic kidney weakness. It is called "deficient kidney chi" in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where the kidneys and bones are considered together. This is appropriate because the kidneys regulate the level of mineral salts in the blood stream, while the bones store those minerals in their structural matrix. In TCM, a deficiency of the chi or energy of the kidneys results in a weakening of the structural system. Arthritis, osteoporosis, low back pain and weakness in the lower extremities are all signs of kidney chi deficiency.

KB-C tcm is ideal for building kidney chi; especially in older persons whose bones are becoming more fragile. Morinda has a long tradition as a structural system builder and is used in this TCM formula for kidney chi deficiency. The Noni capsules are the best choice for this purpose. Horsetail is a mineral-rich herb that strengthens tissues throughout the body and is especially recommended for improving the function of the tiny filtering nephrons in the kidneys.

Urinary Tract Irritations

When the kidneys and bladder are overloaded with too many irritants and too little water to wash them out, they may become irritated, inflamed, and painful. The urine will be dark from being concentrated and may cause a burning sensation as it is passed.
The condition is named according to the tissue that is inflamed:

Nepritis: the kidneys.
Cystitis: the urinary bladder.
Prostatitis: the prostate gland in men. Both Cornsilk and Marshmallow are demulcent or cooling and soothing herbs. They are used to remove inflammatory heat from a wide range of tissues including the urinary tract. IF-C is a Chinese formula for inflammation that is used in the same way.

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.

Urinary tract irritation leads to tissue inflammation which makes these tissues more susceptible to infections.



Edema-Water Retention

One of the main problems that can arise from a lack of kidney function is water retention, also called edema. The usual effects of edema are fairly obvious: swollen ankles, feet, and hands. If the skin, when pressed, stays white for more than a couple of seconds, there may be some deficiency of kidney function.

Diuretic herbs can increase the rate of urine production.
Juniper Berries, Parsley and Dandelion are all classic diuretic herbs. In season, dandelions from a chemical-free lawn or field are an excellent resource. Dandelion root is more activating to the liver, while the leaf is more activating to the kidneys. Both Kidney Activator (K) and Chinese Kidney Activator (K-C) belong in this class of herbal diuretics as well.
JP-X is probably the gentlest acting of NSP's stimulating diuretic herbal formulas.
Many drug diuretics can deplete potassium as a side effect Too-little potassium leaves an imbalance with sodium in the body. Happily, many herbal diuretics are rich in potassium.

Kidney Drainage (liquid) is a diuretic formula that can enhance kidney function. It has a more nourishing effect on sluggish kidneys. It contains asparagus, goldenrod and plantain, which have a tonic effect on the urinary system. It also contains juniper berries, which stimulate sluggish kidney function. This product is very suitable for children and the elderly.



KidneysUrinary Tract Infection (UTIs)

Infections of the tissues in the urinary tract usually involve bacteria such as E. coli but may include fungal infections such as Candida albicans. There may be a sensation of warmth in the small of the back. Recurrent urinary tract infections can scar the lining of the bladder and become a serious health risk.

Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice or taking Cranberry and Buchu combination daily can help to prevent infections. Cranberry is not helpful, however, for getting rid of an active infection in the urinary tract.
If you have a UTI, drink lots of water and take an herbal diuretic formula to flush the urinary passages. JP-X is a good diuretic formula for UTIs because it contains uva ursi and goldenseal, two herbs that help to fight infection in the urinary tract, although KidneyActivator and Chinese KidneyActivator can also be used.

Along with the herbal diuretic, take a good infection-fighting remedy like Echinacea and Goldenseal, Olive Leaf Extract or Silver Shield. Uva ursi is a very good single herb for disinfecting the urinary tract, especially when made into a tea.

Drink plenty of water to flush the irritants and infectious agents out of the system. Some diuretics work by stimulating or irritating the kidneys; these should be avoided. Cooling, soothing herbs such as Marshmallow and Cornsilk promote healing. Also, herbs that are both diuretic and antiseptic are especially good for UTIs

Oregon Grape, and Uva Ursi are directly antiseptic.

Probiotic supplements are live bacteria, which are healthful in the body. Not only will they help to displace the unhealthy infectious bacteria, but if antibiotics are used, probiotics can be used to replace or "replant" the healthful bacteria that were killed along with the bad. Failing to take probiotics after a round of antibiotics is a common cause of a vicious circle of reinfections. Bifidophilus Flora Force is a potent probiotic supplement that contains multiple strains.



Urinary Incontinence

Incontinence can be caused by a very wide range of contributing factors. These can range from emotional stress, nerve damage from diabetes, to tissue weakness due to pregnancy or poor nutrition. The underlying causes will help determine the therapies that are selected.

Some people find that eliminating caffeine, alcohol, sugar and sugar substitutes is helpful.
Mineral-rich herbs such as Horsetail or combination Herbal Trace Minerals may help strengthen tissues, as will C Citrus Bioflavanoids and Zinc.

For men, prostate enlargement can squeeze the urinary tract and cause dribbling and incomplete emptying of the bladder. Saw Palmetto Concentrate and Zinc are often gradually helpful for this problem.

Other remedies that may be beneficial include KB-C and Urinary Maintenance



Kidney Stones

Most (80%) of kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate and are the result of minerals solidifying out of too-concentrated urine. They obstruct the flow of urine and are very painful to pass.

People in primitive societies rarely develop kidney stones. Why should we?
Drinking plenty of clean water will help to keep minerals in solution. Avoid foods that increase urinary oxalate significantly including nuts, chocolate, tea, and peanuts. Caffeine, carbonated beverages, salt, and animal protein all increase the risk of forming kidney stones.

A good-quality calcium supplement will actually help bind oxalate in the gut. Magnesium Complex and Vitamin B6 help the body to convert oxalate into other substances. People who consume plenty of fiber and potassium have a lower risk of forming kidney stones. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and potassium.

Hydrangea and lemon water help to dissolve the rough edges from stones when they are being passed. Marshmallow soothes urinary membranes and may also be helpful.



Gout

Gout is another example of material becoming too concentrated so that it accumulates as a solid instead of staying dissolved and being eliminated in the urine.

The liver creates uric acid while processing excess nitrogen waste from dietary protein. Uric acid circulates in the blood until it is excreted by the kidneys. If uric acid becomes too concentrated, it will form crystals; especially in the toes causing a great deal of pain.

A juice fast can help alkalize the body. In fact, a reliable treatment for gout is to eat about a pound of cherries every day.

The most obvious solution is to eat less meat (this is called a "low purine diet") and drink more clean water. For some people, yeast/fungal infections in the bowel contribute to the load of uric acid in their systems.

Joint Support
(JNT-A) helps reduce circulating acids and heal damaged joints. Joint-Health also fits in this category. Diuretic herbs, which are listed under Edema (above) may also be helpful. Tei Fu Oil can give some topical pain relief






Bed-wetting and Urinating at Night


Young children also have trouble controlling urination because the sphincter muscle is not fully developed. This problem normally resolves itself as they grow older. When adults get stressed or have blood sugar imbalances they may have to wake up several times a night to urinate, but children who tend to sleep deeper will just wet the bed.

Nervous Fatigue Formula or Adrenal Support helps adults and children reduce the urge to urinate at night by balancing blood sugar, reducing stress and supporting adrenal function.

With young children, use Licorice Root extract to build the adrenals and balance blood sugar. It also helps the body hold onto water. Magnesium Complex may also help.

When the problem is blood sugar (children...) related, it may also be helpful to eat a small protein snack before bedtime. Good choices include a couple of ounces of almond butter, organic cheese or cottage cheese.
It may also help to drink plenty of water during the day and less water at bedtime. A diuretic, taken during the day, will also help encourage urination during the day. Cornsilk is a good choice for young children, Chinese Kidney Activator is a good remedy for older children and adults.



Prostatitis and BPH

In the male"plumbing" system, the prostate sits just under the urinary bladder, surrounding the urethra. If the prostate becomes inflamed, it will swell, making urination difficult, a condition known as prostatitis. The prostate can also enlarge due to overstimulation of estrogens, a condition is known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).
Remedies that reduce prostate swelling or help to shrink the prostate can improve urinary function in men. These include PS II, a good remedy for prostatitis, and Men's Formula, which helps BPH.
For more information about solving urinary problems, talk to the person who gave you this newsletter.


Cystitis, Urethritis and Urinary Inflammation

Cystitis is inflammation ofthe urinary bladder and urethritis is inflammation of the urethra, the tube that drains the urine from the bladder. The kidneys and bladder can also become inflamed. While this is often due to infection, it can also be caused by toxins being flushed through the urinary system.
When inflammation is present in the urinary system, it can cause burning or scalding pain. It can also cause the need for frequent urination because the toxins in the urine are so strong they irritate the bladder. Unfortunately, the frequent urge to urinate prompts many people to drink less water, when what is really needed is more water to dilute the toxins.

Taking soothing urinary remedies like cornsilk and marshmallow will help, but other herbal diuretics should usually be avoided.


An Important Word of Caution
Urinary tract problems may become life-threatening and require medical intervention. Dialysis and kidney failure patients require medical supervision and have special needs and risks not discussed here.